Applying for The Ultimate Library’s Barefoot Bookseller: A Second Thought

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I have been thinking a lot about this job selling books in the Maldives as the Ultimate Library’s Barefoot Bookseller. Well, some thinking and some daydreaming. It is a dream job, after all.

It’s been about three weeks since I sent in my application and so far I still remain hopeful that I may be shortlisted. As I described in my previous blog post, these three weeks have not just been spent waiting and praying. Rather, I’ve been actively preparing for the next part of the interview process as well as further developing my site. (More book reviews and even travel guides coming soon!)

The risks of an atypical application

However, although I strongly believe I have a chance at moving on to the next stage, I am having second thoughts that perhaps my chosen format was a little too risky. What are the chances the HR Manager will actually visit my site and go through all the content to assess my suitability? I may have stranded myself, so to speak, by not submitting an easy-to-digest traditional resume, cover letter and writing sample.

Why I started this blog to apply

When I applied I realised that there would be thousands of people around the world who would also be captivated by the idea of spending three (or more) months in a tropical paradise surrounded by books, sharing their passion for literature with resort guests and inspiring them to write. Considering this, I wanted to find a way to stand out and make my application exceptional, memorable and ultimately present myself as a worthy candidate. My solution: build a website. How many other hopefuls would be committed enough to spend so much time creating a site or even purchase a domain name and hosting? I am hoping very few.

Why I am doubtful

But this is where my doubt creeps in. Perhaps my blog is just a little too unconventional. Perhaps my creative approach is just a little too time-consuming for HR to bother with. I really don’t know.

Interviewing a recruitment expert

So, to try and put my mind at ease and get on with my routine of positive thinking, I reached out to my friend and all-round recruitment expert Emma Watts to ask about her experience and get a little more insight into the hiring process. She kind of put my fears to rest but also kind of didn’t.

Standing out from the rest

Emma told me that job postings typically receive between 60 to 70 submissions from job seekers. With a figurative tsunami of applications, this opening is clearly not regular in any way. As such, getting the attention of the hiring manager may be far more difficult than if I were only competing against 65 +/- other candidates.

In that regard, I think my blog was a good approach. I’ve followed the age-old writers’ mantra of “show, don’t tell” and used my site to demonstrate exactly what I’m capable of – quickly building a comprehensive website, successfully using WordPress, developing SEO and writing captivating (I hope) posts. In this way, I believe I’ve made an impactful contribution to the recruitment drive. Moreover, I’ve shown commitment by actually putting considerable time and money into my bid to become the Barefoot Bookseller. So yes, I’m confident that I’ve made the right choice in that respect.

Potential problems with a unique format

But, and this is a big but, because the format is unique, it may be too troublesome for whoever is responsible for shortlisting candidates to read through properly. To move past this concern, I also asked Emma about submitting irregular applications. I wanted to know which way HR’s reactions might lean: positive or negative? Apparently, it could go either way.

“It’s quite refreshing… to see something a little bit different,” she explained. Ok good! That’s what I was aiming for. But then she also mentioned, “Hiring managers only take about less than 20 seconds to first read a CV. Really they look at the companies you’ve worked at, the tenures of those roles and the job title.” Eeep. Technically, I didn’t submit a CV. I took a more holistic approach with my About Me page and provided a link to my LinkedIn profile, which is in no way complete or tailored to this role. I really hope this doesn’t disadvantage me.

The right skills for the job

That said, as Emma put it, ultimately what is most important is to “make sure you actually have the right skills for the job” and to “make sure [your experience] is relevant to the job you’re applying for.” I am certain that my previous roles add up to a well-rounded candidate with all the right attributes to succeed. I mean, I wouldn’t have bothered to apply otherwise. But have I managed to sell myself and my background convincingly? I’m just not sure. I can only hope that The Ultimate Library takes the time to go through Written in Paradise, appreciate how seriously I am taking this opportunity and consequently see me as one of the top applicants for the Barefoot Bookseller.

I guess only time will tell.

Image via Pixabay

Jamie B


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