Applying for Jobs and Managing your Expectations

Applying for jobs can be demoralising, especially when you invest a lot of time into the applications and see little success in return. When applying for jobs, it is important that you manage your expectations to avoid losing motivation and finding yourself in a slump.

Applying for Jobs:


One of the most important elements that you will hear over and over for successful job applications is the need to have a relevant and up-to-date CV. Many of us are guilty of not updating our CV when starting a new position at work, completing new training, or developing new skills. It is also important to tailor your CV to make it relevant to the specific role you are applying for.

Employers look for reliable, loyal staff. This lets recruiters know why your employment was so short. Particularly important for those with an extensive work history from temporary roles.

We recommend tailoring your CV for each submission you make highlighting your key skills and experiences that are relevant to the role you are applying for. For example, your CV would generally highlight your analytical and digital creative skills for a marketing-related role. You can then edit this tailoring it for each role you apply for. Pull keywords from the job description relevant to your skills and expertise, ensuring to mention your proficiency and experience with software within your personal statement and skills section.

The more your CV matches the requirements of the role, the more likely it is you will be selected for interview.

Most job boards and recruitment agency software use Applicant Tracking Sytems (ATS). These systems scan numerous CV applications for keywords and filters out those which do not match the job requirements and description. This means without the right language on your CV you will likely not pass this first stage in the screening process. You will be deemed unsuccessful by the system before having your application seen by employers or recruiters! This is why it is important to tailor your CV for each role. Ensuring it is rich with the keywords from the job description.

Job Boards:

Recruiters can also filter and look through any CVs and profiles made on the job boards. This means updating your job board profiles frequently is equally as important as updating your CV. You also need to be more realistic when doing so. Your desired salary and role should be realistic of your current skill set. For example, if you are a graduate with no field experience you should not have senior-level roles and salaries as your desirable at this stage. You should be focusing on entry-level work. This enables recruiters to find you as they filter their candidate search by these categories to match their job specifications. They can then match you more easily and contact you if you meet their requirements. As you progress within your career, you can then update your desirables to match the expectations of your next career stage.

As well as salary and role expectations, you should be realistic with your commuting distance. How realistic would a 30 minute or more commute be? Would you enjoy the commute? Would it fit around other commitments?


Maintaining professionalism throughout your application process and whilst enrolled at work is very important to recruiters and businesses. This includes maintaining a professional social media presence. LinkedIn is the social media site that recruiters will look at the most to grasp an idea of who you are as a professional. Keeping this up to date with work history, skills and endorsements will always be beneficial. You may want to start actively engaging on the platform as this helps build connections and grow your professional network. This can help you to build relationships with possible future colleagues, managers, and top people within the field.

When ringing or answering the phone to any prospective recruiter remember to be polite and professional. Often, especially with COVID19, recruiters pre-screen candidates over the phone. If you are contacted at a time when it is not appropriate to talk, such as at work or whilst driving, it is perfectly fine and encouraged to disclose that you are unable to talk and will return the call at a more convenient time. Not only is this polite, but it also gives recruiters the idea that you are still interested. If you simply ignore their attempts to contact you, it appears as though you may not be interested. Returning calls at your earliest convenience, even if it is to confirm you are no longer looking for work, is a professional and polite thing to do.

Tracking Applications:

Keeping a record of all your job applications is essential as you will likely apply for many roles. This prevents you from applying for the same role twice and confusing your workloads. It also means that if you are called regarding a role, you can quickly identify which one without letting on that you have made multiple applications. You can also keep track of all the feedback you receive to help better your future applications. It can also help you to identify where you may not have been successful for roles that state they will contact you within so many days if you are successful.

To help manage your job applications we have created a tracking table within Excel. This allows you to log all the important information on your applications. It includes the following:

  • The title of the role you are applying for.
  • The company it is with and their contact information. If they contact you via telephone you can answer confidently knowing who they are and what role it is for.
  • Date of your application.
  • Whether or not someone has been in contact regarding application.
  • If you have an interview.
  • If you have received an offer.
  • Feedback received during the process, either from the application, CV, or interview stage.

There is a PDF version of the template for those without Excel.

Managing Expectations:

Application Stage:

When applying for jobs, you should remain realistic with your expectations and chances of success. If you do not meet the essential minimum requirements or fit the job spec, you will likely be unsuccessful. If you are applying for similar jobs you can begin to look at what they expect of you and use this to your advantage. For example, if you notice that a specific skill requirement keeps coming up across the roles you are applying for and you do not possess this skill, you can spend time developing this to strengthen your application. For certain jobs, there are free courses online that offer training on particular software and applications. This may not be the case for certain advanced jobs, technical courses may incur a fee. It is worth considering whether it is worthwhile to undertake the course if it will dramatically affect your chances of success.

Reed has thousands of online courses available which provide you with essential skills and certifications required for various jobs. They offer a range of courses from university courses to webinars and paid skills courses. They currently have huge discounts on a lot of their courses making it more inclusive. To view their discounted courses, click here.

Spending more time on fewer applications and not churning out numerous generic applications also works in your favor. It allows for more detailed and thorough applications. You could always research the company and job role before applying to help have a strong application. Consider how you would fit into the company and its brand, think is the role really for you. With the research completed at this stage, you will be more prepared and ready if called for an interview at short notice. You can then spend some more time on your interview prep and not be rushing around and making yourself nervous.

Interview Stage:

If you are lucky enough to progress into interviews or telephone interviews, you should begin preparing. You can write up notes on yourself as well as the company you are interviewing for. Noting examples of how you have demonstrated the key skills they require in case your nerves get the better of you and you forget to mention these. Practicing interviews with friends or family members to work on issues surrounding nerves. If you are then unsuccessful after the interview, it is worthwhile asking for detailed feedback from the interviewer. You can use the feedback to better your chances at future interviews. Were you pipped to the post by another candidate? Did you not convey your skills efficiently? or was it just personality incompatibility?