Editor’s weekly: Patience is a virtue

I’m probably the most impatient person I know. I don’t want answers tomorrow I wanted them yesterday. So when it came to applying for training contracts I was an absolute nightmare.

The minute I posted my applications I would sit by my front door biting my fingernails waiting for that all important letter (unfortunately we didn’t have email then) inviting me for an interview or as was mostly the case telling me I wasn’t successful. But as every day passed without any news the more desperate I became, leaving me no choice but to pick up the phone to find out what had happened to my application.

I didn’t think there was any problem in pursuing my applications. Surely it would make me look really keen? But unfortunately that may not always be the case as there’s a fine balance between acting keen and turning into an application pest.

This is echoed by my graduate recruitment contacts who remind me that some of them receive over 2,000 applications and despite the wonders of technology it takes them a significant amount of time to wade through them.

I would therefore recommend the following tips to ensure you don’t turn into an application pest:

  • Don’t ring firms in advance to tell them that you’re going to apply – it suggests either that you’re worried your form isn’t good enough and therefore needs additional assistance, or conversely that you think it’s better than the average.
 That said, in these troubled economic times it’s perfectly legitimate to call a firm to double check that they are accepting applications if this is unclear from their graduate recruitment website.
  • Don’t try to circumvent the ‘process’. If a firm only accepts an on-line application, then don’t send them a CV and covering letter – for instance saying that you have so much to say that it can’t all fit into the on-line word limit.

  • Does the recruitment information give the time period within which a decision about whether to offer an interview will be made? If so, then don’t even think of chasing before that time period has expired. It will be seen as pushy and/or indicate that you don’t read instructions. Neither is a good sign.
  • When you do chase, be reasonable and polite.
 Don’t ask for individual feedback on forms if you aren’t successful in securing an interview – firms receive thousands a year and it’s not reasonable to expect them to explain to you in detail where you went wrong.
  • If you aren’t successful after your interview you should always ask for feedback. If a firm has a robust interview procedure, then it should be able to give you a clear explanation of the basis for its decision not to offer you a place.
  • If the worst happens and your application is rejected then don’t argue with the person delivering the feedback and under no circumstance ask your parents to complain on your behalf. You may come across the firm in the future so don’t say anything you might regret!


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