Friday, 13 September 2013

How to see the positive side of rejection (aka hurray, I didn't get that job!)

Now, now, who got that job?

Nobody likes rejection, me included. I'm a proactive go-getter so if I work hard on a job application (not only researching the company/organisation involved but also preparing presentations and undergoing various tests if I reach the interview stage), it's a real downer to be told, "We loved your presentation, but we found a candidate closely matching our requirements, bla, bla".  Often I get zero feedback and I wonder, "Why not?". But not for long.

Thanks to the internet it's remarkably easy to find out who gets the job you have been applying for, if the organisation/firm doesn't make an announcement on its website, then you just do a search on LinkedIn. Another way is to work for that organisation in another capacity. More than once, I didn't get the job but I ended up working there through a temping agency. That's how I found out that a couple of jobs I applied for went to internal candidates. Grrr, the internal candidate, what's the point of advertising such a job? I don't see the point, no matter what the law says.

Then there is the annoyance when you find out that the job went to somebody younger, a 'man' (I have nothing against men, I quite like them, I'm just fed up of this gender divide nonsense) or, intriguinglysomebody who is not 'better' than you, like somebody less experienced... Something my partner told me once comes to mind: "In business people hire people they like or they feel comfortable working with". So the winning candidate might not be 'better', but more likeable. Not a compliment, but it's understandable. You can't please everybody.

Women also have another disadvantage over men - it has been proven that women don't tend to bullshit. Sorry for the use of the strong word but there has been research saying that women won't apply for a job unless they can tick all the requirements on the job description. I was ticking away, until my partner advised me to stop. And he was right as I got a few interviews for managerial roles. I didn't get the jobs, but from the feedback I got, it was a question of beating stiff competition, there was nothing wrong with my CV.

There is also another scenario, which happened to me recently. You attend the interview and you get a raft of hostile questions. So you do some verbal fencing while wondering:
  • Have they read my CV?
  • Why in hell have they called me for this interview?
  • Is it some sort of strategy to find an emotionally strong candidate?
  • Why am I here? This job sounds like miles away from the job description.
  • I don't like these people, should I sabotage my interview?
  • Why is this woman in the panel giving me the evil eye while the other is as nice as pie? Is it a game of good cop, bad cop?
Feel free to add more scenarios... I'm starting to realise that interviews are either a competitive sport or a performance theatre play. Most of the jobs I go for are contract jobs, so you'd think they are easier to get than permanent posts, but no, it's actually worse! These jobs are highly attractive because Cambridge has a transient labour market. There are plenty of people after them, even people who don't live in Cambridge but are hoping to move here.

But back to that list of thoughts surfacing in my head while I'm being interviewed... If like me you sat there and had similar thoughts, not getting the job is the best outcome. Always trust your instincts,  I haven't and I should learn to. I once got a job after getting the evil eye treatment and it was not a nice workplace. Luckily I had the option of going back to work from home. 

I'm lucky to have a choice, but I didn't when I graduated in 1993, during an economic recession. I had to do jobs I was overqualified for, work for unpleasant people until I made my escape into journalism. I had a wonderful career for well over a decade. 

Out of London it's a bit different, plus the economic/financial recession of 2008 is still having repercussions, whatever the politicians say. There are less opportunities in "the provinces", but things are picking up in digital marketing. 

I could stay freelance but after several years of homeworking I like the idea of being in an office again. I started doing inhouse jobs in 2011,  a bit hampered by restrictive childcare provisions. Now my daughter is in school and has a place at a afterschool club, it's getting easier. Still I'd like to see more flexible opportunities for mums. 

I couldn't stop working, not even when heavily pregnant, so my only option was to volunteer my skills. I'm still doing some volunteering and it's wonderful work, but at some point everybody needs to earn some money.

We all want a better life-work balance, another reason why it's best not to get certain jobs, especially in the corporate sector, which is not child friendly, whatever they say. And most businesses still believe on bums on seats, like remote technology is something out of sci-fi. Maybe we need an app so employers can breathe on remote employees' necks. 

Finally, if you are a male reader, I wish you luck in finding a way to work and see your children grow. It was a big financial sacrifice for us, but well worth it - after several years of working as a freelance consultant, my partner is back on the career ladder and I'm on my way. Like the French songstress sang: Rien, je ne regrette rien.

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