Outdated Advice For Job Applicants


I was recently asked to look at some advice for new graduates entering the workforce. It was the usual mix of helpful, obvious, and trite. You know the sort - tailor your application to the job specification, make sure your CV is spelled correctly, don't give up, etc.

In the middle of it, was this doozy. "Put your application in a gold coloured envelope so it stands out from the crowd!"

This struck me as… unusual advice. But I checked against the Twitter hive mind.

I remember, during my first job hunt, being told by well-meaning advisers to "walk into the office, ask to speak to the manager, and hand over your CV! Remember a firm handshake!"

Even at the fag-end of the last century (why am I so old?!) this was objectively terrible advice. Most places wanted you to fill in a standardised application form. Sure, there were a handful of small places which would take an unsolicited CV - but they were extremely rare. And, frankly, not the sort of places which would be a springboard for a career.

Today... I can't even remember the last time I posted off a job application. Most of the things I see don't even have a postal address available. It's either "fill in this crappy online form…" or "send an email to…" or "attend this webinar to register…"

I've run dozens of recruitment campaigns - at senior and junior level - and I can't ever remember receiving a physical application form.

Would there be some novelty in receiving a coloured envelope? Sure! But I doubt I'd see it. Assuming the mail reached the right member of staff (who is probably WFH) - they'll be on the HR team. They're not going to care about one envelope - just whether you've put the right keywords to make it past the sift.

Of course, maybe my rarefied tech-industry lifestyle has left me ignorant to what things are like in the "real world". I don't doubt there are some industries where turning up unsolicited with a CV is a good way to get a foot in the door. And I'm sure some businesses run mainly on snail-mail. And having an online-only application discriminates against the digitally excluded.

But giving this sort of outdated advice to new entrants in the job market is just cruel.


3 thoughts on “Outdated Advice For Job Applicants

  1. says:

    @Edent LOL. Definitely outdated advice probably as is the advice to print your resume on linen or other fancy paper material.

  2. Daniel says:

    Most of the HR departments I’ve experienced wouldn’t even accept a ‘non-redacted’ CV being passed outside of their department. In most cases things you’re always told to put on a CV are removed and they only pass to the interviewer your name (sometimes first name only), relevant recent experience and possibly degree info (if highly relevant to the job). Things like photos, hobbies and affiliations are a no-no and everything is standardised to ensure no one candidate sticks out. The idea that anyone would even know you used a gold envelope or scented paper is something out of Legally Blonde!

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