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How not to apply for a new job: Apply for it on a job site

Watch as I channel my digital Yosser Hughes, violence included

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Gizza job*. I can do that. Go on, giz it.

The time has come, I say, to apply for many things. A job as a shoemaker? Shipbuilder? Fabricant of sealing wax? Cabbages? Kings?

Every now and again, a freelancer feels the urge to seek solace in full-time employment. I am no exception. Even long-term contractors, who experience the daily working life of an employee in all but name, get fed up with endless podiatric scratching and muse the possibilities of professional subservience.

It’s known as The Call of the Tame.

I am being called and it’s my moment to spread my wings and fly… or at least ponder the possibility until I grow bored of the idea, which I will do soon enough. Not that I even need that job, mind – at least not earnestly enough to steal it from a middle-aged punter caught between furlough and early retirement. It’s just a brief passing phase that freelancers have to get through from time to time, as we fantasise what it must be like to receive sick pay and pension contributions, and not to have to buy your own tools for the job. Oh, and to be able to command some other flunky to fix said IT equipment whenever it goes wrong, with a mere flick of a call-log.

Pah, and pigs have wings.

"Huh, as if anyone would employ me," I tell myself, hoping to provoke my inner flatterer into contradicting such blatant false modesty but hearing no reply. Maybe he’s on mute. I am my own worst enemy, I goad, since I am too experienced, too qualified and simply too damn expensive. I suffer from that worst of professional afflictions: being adequately competent across a vast range of capabilities but not sufficiently obsessive on the minutiae within whatever blinkered skillset an employer’s job ad unreasonably insists upon.

I log in to the usual places to see what’s changed in the employment market since the last time I looked a few years ago. Even though nobody is watching me, I feign an air of casual disinterest, like a married man noticing that a long-boarded-up retail unit on the high street has just re-opened as sex shop.

I channel my inner Yosser Hughes* and enter my job preferences. Spread my wings and fly!

Look at that job. Easy. I could do that. Blindfolded, even. Standing on my head. One hand behind my back. Unfortunately, a knife-throwing act isn’t what’s required, so I move on to the next.

Here’s one I could do with very little effort (something I excel at, by the way). As long as I enjoy office hours, am "willing to learn", have a "command of basic literacy" and oh, I dunno, not be dead, the job’s mine. Let’s see, how many others have applied so far? 1,487. OK, let’s keep scrolling.

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Eventually, I end up on LinkedIn. I had put them off until last because they already email me lists of vacancies, several times a day, even though I can’t remember asking them to do so. LinkedIn seems particularly keen for me to apply for jobs in Singapore. I suspect one of my previous colleagues hacked into my LinkedIn Jobs profile for a laugh, or perhaps he was trying to get me to bugger off as far away as possible.

Ooh, there’s a vacancy labelled "Digital Project Manager". That sounds nice. And it’s not asking for all that Scrum bollocks; incredibly for a project manager’s job, it’s asking for practical experience within the industry it relates to.

I click ‘Apply’. It asks me for my email address. Er, I’ve already logged in to LinkedIn: why is it asking for my email? OK, no worries, I type in my email address.

It asks me to create a profile. But I’ve already… ah, I see what’s happening: it’s not LinkedIn, it’s the company advertising the job who’s asking. Possibly some human resources requirement. I can probably project manage my way around this hurdle, eh? So I create a profile and click ‘Apply’ (again).

The page refreshes and I’m looking at a completely different website containing similar jobs to the one I am trying to apply for. Well, not exactly similar, or not remotely similar in fact, but they have similar job titles. I scroll downwards to see if the job I am trying to apply for is in the list. It is. I click ‘Apply’ (again).

This new page asks me to create a new profile. Okaaaay. Why not? I remember most of the exaggerations that I typed into the previous profile, so I should be able to type them in to this new profile. And I’m nearly there because the ‘Apply’ button has been replaced by a ‘Submit’ button. I click on it.

The page refreshes and I am taken back to the original job-poster’s website. It has a slightly different CSS design this time but it’s definitely the same job and page content. There is a differently coloured ‘Apply’ button for me to click on, which is what I do (again).

It’s asking me for my email address. Memory of a goldfish, this company. I type it in.

I am diverted to a third website specialising in not-particularly-related job offers in the digital space. It appears to use some of the same branding as that on the site of the original job-poster, so I assume it’s the same company, right? Funny, though, as this time the job ad does not have an ‘Apply’ or ‘Submit’ button. No button at all, in fact.

While I muse this, I am auto-directed to a fourth website full of digital project management jobs. My job is still there but it’s presented in different fonts and colours. I scroll down to look for an ‘Apply’ button. Or ‘Submit’. To be honest, a ‘Get the fuck on with it’ button will do me nicely.

Instead of a button, there is a line at the end of the job description that reads: Interested? Then contact me directly at

Spread my wings? Now that half a dozen websites have my email and profile, I feel like I’ve spread my arse.

Time to fly.

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Alistair Dabbs
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling tech journalism, training and digital publishing. He has now lost interest in seeking potential full-time employment for the next few years. He appreciates that most people actually in full-time employment have also lost interest in full-time employment. That’s the way it is. More at Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.

* The catchphrase of Yosser Hughes, the lead character of the '80s TV series Boys from the Blackstuff, a role brilliantly played by Bernard Hill - aka King Theoden from the film versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The TV series chronicled the stresses of five unemployed men who would do anything to have a job in then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Britain.

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