Speedy Applications Critical This Year

Last year, it became obvious that opening dates for recruitment were more important than closing dates. It looks like this trend is continuing, so what does this mean if you’re about to start searching for a job? Here are some of the things to look out for:

No closing date on a vacancy or recruitment scheme
This generally means as soon as the recruiter finds an applicant who looks like a good fit, they’ll stop looking at any new applications.

This used to be quite common for one-off jobs, but now often applies to large scale graduate recruitment programmes as well. Recruiters know that jobs are in short supply so they’re more likely to receive good quality applications from motivated candidates at the start of their recruitment campaign.

In previous years, they would often leave some interview slots unfilled until late in the campaign. Partly this was good recruitment practice, to compare all candidates and give every applicant a fair chance of being considered. They would also often hold out, hoping to attract late applications from high quality candidates (who knew they had the pick of the jobs), maybe after talking to them at a campus based event. I doubt this will be happening much this year.

Early closing dates
I think this year it’s going to be a case of “blink and you’ll miss it”. We’ve seen examples of shortening recruitment rounds in the public sector already.

The Government Economic Service which recruits postgrads as Assistant Economists has shortened its timescales for the first round of recruitment this year by a third.

There’s normally a second round of recruitment in April, with no hint of that being cut … yet. I’d get in for the first round just to be on the safe side.

Although last year the public sector kept job hopes alive for lots of postgrads, this year, it’s very different. However, not all recruitment has been cut and some sections of the Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment are still going ahead, with an opening date of 20th September being advertised – but no closing date known yet.

Early opening dates?
Some major recruiters now have all year round recruitment or open their recruitment programmes well before the start of the academic year. For example, TeachFirst have opened their recruitment for all subjects, but History and Citizenship are already full for 2011 entry.

Offset against this is the continuing uncertainty about how many graduates and postgraduates organisations will want to recruit this year. Although all the talk is of cuts in the public sector, a lot of graduates also go into private sector jobs which rely on public sector work, such as consultancy, construction, infrastructure and so on.

I’d stick my neck out and predict that we’ll see some lightening recruitment campaigns this year, with recruitment numbers being decided quite late (maybe even after the October budget?). However, as soon as employers advertise, I suspect they’ll get flooded with applications and close their vacancies very quickly.

Time to move fast
The message can only be, keep your eyes peeled, and start drafting that application as soon as you see the job you want advertised. Burning the midnight oil to get your application in just before the deadline is probably just a waste of fuel.