Graduate Blog

Job Applications Room 101


I am yet to find a worse aspect to job-hunting than the seemingly obligatory thus omnipresent application form.

I understand that employers need to see specificity to know that you are the ideal candidate for a position but sometimes there are questions that really take the biscuit, unreasonably precise requests that make me want to use the sheets as toilet paper, such is my impossibility of fulfilling the person specification.

This article is my opportunity to banish my pet hates into that increasingly tired format,  Room 101 . An idea based on an institutional British  TV show that, in turn, is based on an Orwellian concept. I won’t patronise you by explaining the idea but if you don’t know it already, Google it and pretend you did.

1. Do you have a full British driving licence?

I have never understood how, nor why my having (or not having) a driving licence warrants its place on such a document. It is not any employers’ concern as long as Britain has buses, trains and trams.

Unless of course the position itself requires a car. If I were applying for a role as, say, a mobile hairdresser, then it ceases being a question and becomes a sub-header at the top.

Unless you own a car, don’t bother applying.

At the risk of sounding like I have some sort of debilitating inferiority complex, such a query skews the whole questionnaire away from younger applicants. As a young  male learner driver, I was quoted over five hundred pounds a month (five grand a year)  to be put on my Mum’s insurance. And how many young people can afford that?

Perhaps if we stood a fighting chance of being hired, we would earn enough money to be able to own and run our cars. Perhaps if we could afford being able to maintain a car, we’d stand more chance of being hired.

2. Please quote your last three jobs.

Surely, at the age of 21, being able to write down three previous employers would make me unbelievably unemployable? It would demonstrate a lack of drive in studying, a lack of focus in my career plans and display an inability to hold down any one job at any one time.

Surely most of a young person’s experience would, too, be largely irrelevant? Neither having a newspaper round, nor being a campus tour guide will sway a firm’s interest in me.

The alternative, however, is to leave three big, blank boxes, and no-one needs to tell me how off-putting that is.

Again, it is another example of this middle age bias. Make the youth look as unattractive as possible so we don’t have to hire them.

3. Small (too few) qualification boxes.

Due to not having the requisite history that potential employers usually ask for, I like to think that the qualifications section is my time to shine.

Unless, of course, the form instructs you to list only your ‘most relevant’ ten awards (see, NHS Careers), or gives you the most microscopic table available from Microsoft Word.

Despite the opinions of those in charge, I am proud of my earned qualifications, and the only people who continue to devalue them are, ironically, those who spout that they are being devalued.

I achieved a lot in school, because I worked hard, because I was told that if I worked hard then I would stand a better chance of acquiring a role within my field of choice.

That was wrong though, because, apparently, companies prefer practical, occupational experience .

4. Other relevant skills.

Finally, I’d like to banish the ‘other relevant skills’ section to Room 101, mainly because I never really know what to write in it.

I liken it to being on a date and your opposite number asking you what music you like – anything and everything is always your reply because you’re too embarrassed to admit you like bubblegum pop/ death metal/ obscure trance.

I know I have other skills, but they are never relevant nor certified, but the only other alternative – again – is to leave the box blank, white, unmarked.

You might as well just rip the form up yourself.


About the Author

Thomas Bell Thomas Bell

Graduate of Film Studies at the University of Warwick. Currently snatching every opportunity as a freelance writer. My advice on here always comes from personal experience; I've been to the places, done the things and worn the T-shirts you'd rather not. Let me be a warning to you. Regurgitates Morrissey lyrics (just like everybody else does) and supports Morecambe F.C. (because nobody else will).

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