At Southpoint Films we receive hundreds — if not thousands — of emails every year from hopefuls looking to find work at our company. It’s why we’ve dedicated a whole section of our website solely to careers, even though we don’t hire all too often. Receiving as many applications as we do has given us an insight into some of the common mistakes that people make when making a job enquiry with us. We’d like to share these with you in the hopes that you can use this to your advantage when you’re next hunting for a job.
Provide as much information as you think is necessary
All too often we’ll receive a job enquiry via email that asks us to respond if we want to see a copy of the person’s CV, showreel, etc. When we’re inundated with job applications, taking the time to email someone to request this basic information simply isn’t worth our time, especially when there is a hefty pile of CVs that we can sift through without this extra step. Equally, if you don’t give this information to us to look at, we won’t know we want it. The market for jobs in video production is incredibly competitive and we’re not able to spend much time on each application. It’s not that we’re lazy – it’s simply because we receive so many and can only spend so much time dealing with these requests. We’re not a recruitment company, after all!!
Don’t get basic information wrong
This should go without saying, but don’t get basic information wrong. Basic information would include things like the name of the company that you’re emailing, as seen in this example I received a few years ago:
Attention to detail is a highly valued quality in business and, when the job market is so tough, not taking the time to make sure that the email you’re about to send is correct instantly justifies us not spending the time to consider your job enquiry. It’s an instant-deleter, even if it is mildly entertaining for us to see. To be fair to the person in this example, they quickly followed up with an apology and we gave them a day of work experience as sympathy for their embarrassment. (Although I wouldn’t recommend this approach!)
If you want to take this one further, have a look at our advice on what we look for in job applications. Doing a bit of homework on the company you’re contacting goes a long way, even if it’s simply finding out the right person to address your job enquiry to.
Check that any information you’re requesting isn’t available already
We often get careers enquiries that are simply questions about what jobs are available, whether we offer work experience, and so on. As I mentioned at the start of this post, we’ve put a considerable amount of time (and money!) into building a careers section of our website specifically to help job seekers find the information they may be looking for. If you’re emailing us to ask us for information that can easily be found on our website your email will be promptly deleted.
When the information you’re asking for is very readily available, your email shows that you didn’t do any research into our company before contacting us. If we called you in for an interview and, after you took time out of your day to travel and meet with us, it became apparent that we hadn’t so much as read your CV beforehand you’d be a little bit annoyed (and confused). We get the same feeling when people apply for a job at our company and haven’t given any time towards looking into us!
Working for a small business in particular is a big commitment and a major part of the recruitment process is making sure that the job is right for the candidate just as much as the candidate is right for the job.
Make sure you’re submitting your details in the right way
In addition to making sure that you submit the correct details, it’s also important to make sure that you’re submitting the information we’re looking for in the way we want and need it. For example, we have application forms for both specific jobs and for freelancers on our careers page. When people submit their applications through these forms we’re easily able to parse the quantity of responses we receive. The application forms also make sure that every applicant submits all of the information we need so that we don’t have to spend time following up with people, or worse, ignore an applicant who may be perfect for the role but goes overlooked because we didn’t get the right details in the first instance.
While filling in application forms is a tedious and monotonous process while job hunting, it speeds things up massively for businesses like ours and we hope we’ve designed ours well enough that it’s not asking much more than you would tell us anyway. (We don’t need you to conduct a ten page personality test, unlike some employers!)
Be patient with your job enquiry
Although it’s frustrating being on the hunt for a job, it’s important to remain patient. A company like ours receives hundreds of emails each month related to career opportunities and we’re only a small company in the scheme of things; I’m sure companies bigger than us get far more. Your application, no matter how good it is, will be in the pile along with at least a dozen others that need looking at.
An Email we received:
Dear Sir / Madam, I was very disappointed that my son has not heard from you regarding his original message below. I understand that there may not be opportunities at this time for work experience but a reply even if it is to say ‘sorry no’ would not be too much to ask I feel. As a working parent who uses the services of companies such as yours I am not impressed by the complete lack of comunication to a young person seeking specialised work experience in order to make considered judgements about college placements and future training. If by any chance an opportunity is available for the dates below I very much hope to hear from you tomorrow.
While there’s a lot wrong with the email above (in my opinion), the main problem from our perspective was that we received this less than a week after the original job enquiry email was sent. At the end of the day a company like ours is in business because we are here to serve our customers, not to reply to job applications. We don’t have a HR team dedicated to responding to these emails – we have to do it when we have time outside of the day-to-day that keeps the business running.
Most of the time we don’t respond to careers emails because if there’s no work to give out (which is often the case) there’s nothing we can say to you without destroying your hopes in one way, shape or form. We can tell you that you’re great but there are no opportunities here (which is disheartening and is most often the case) or we can tell you that you’re not what we’re looking for and potentially stomp on a flower that is yet to blossom elsewhere. It’s not personal.
My suggestion would be to make a note to come back 6 months later and submit your application or enquiry again, as well as keeping an eye on our website for any new listings. We also have a mailing list specifically for notifying people about careers opportunities here, which you can sign up for here. It may make more sense to sign up for this instead of submitting a job enquiry, then submit an application when a job becomes available.
Looking for job opportunities is incredibly hard, especially in a particularly competitive and difficult market, but we hope that our small insight into what happens on the other side of the curtain helps you get the most out of your next job enquiry.