I recently got picked for a job where the recruiter told me 120 people had applied and only really 5 were suitable. Now, I have done this myself before – and blogged about it – applied for jobs where I don’t obviously fit what they have asked for but – if they’re prepared to be flexible (on age, height, gender or race) I could be good for the role.

What happens with the internet is yes, recruiters are casting their net wider but no, there is no filter to say, hey, you guys should jog on. You’re not AT ALL what we’re looking for.

It wastes the recruiter’s time.

Now, I am on both sides of the fence on this one because – on the one hand – my (acting) agent has got slightly exasperated with me because I have asked her to submit me for roles that she knows I’m not suited for. She’s been in the biz longer than me and can translate the jargon: when they say “any height, any appearance, any gender” they don’t really mean that. “Commercial actor-models” means pretty tall, thin, aspirational, skiing-in-Verbier types. Ditto “corporate beautiful”.

On the other hand – I have applied for roles where they didn’t specify a Caucasian, because they wanted a diverse representation of society, but they liked my video interview so much that they just swapped one of the other roles to a BAME candidate.

Back to my original recruiter: how many people would wade through 120 video applications, some 4-5 minutes long, to make sure they hadn’t missed anyone with real potential? Most would just get to the first 1 or 2 who were pretty good, and then go with them. That’s why many of us, and many of our young people particularly, are missing out when applying for say, student summer internships or their first graduate jobs.

A filter is needed. Yes to algorithms. Yes to recruitment agencies (who remembers the Brook Street Bureau?! ) and headhunters at a higher level. Yes to even recomendations from friends and family, but then we get into accusations of neopotism / cronyism and the new label Nepo or “nepotism baby”. But if someone were to recommend me for a role, I’d be delighted to be considered for it (and I’d only get it if I were any good). And I am always happy to pass on names if someone is really suitable for something, so hit me up. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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