Job, schmob – I need a career…

POST #4: U r not the 1 we r looking 4

Call me an old traditionalist, but I do tend to think that texting someone to say they haven’t got the job and leaving it at that isn’t really the done thing. It’s akin to splitting up with someone by text; both show a lack of consideration and respect, and both can – and will – change your life.

It turns out that my A-Team on-hold script ideas weren’t enough to get me through to the second round of interviews for that job. Not that I had the opportunity to relate them, however, but I did make a good go of the exercises I was given. “Very strong” was the comment. I guess that’s something.

I’ve chased up the interviewer by email twice now. Nothing. I’m one of those people who likes to have closure, I’m afraid, so I’m still toying with the idea of pestering this person often enough that it just gets embarrassing. Not rudely – just enough to make a point that, if I am going to spend hours and hours preparing for an interview, the least I expect back is a bit of courtesy. I don’t think a few sentences which can be banged out in about one minute is too much to expect.

Say what you like about the BBC (some people are fans, some aren’t; I’m in the former category) but my recent experience of their feedback process was amazing. I went for an interview for a Content Producer role a few months ago. After being unsuccessful, the main interviewer gave me an hour and a half of his time (ie, double the length of the original interview) to go through every single answer I gave, telling me what I did well and where I could have done better. That’s perfect. I can learn from that and put the advice to good use. In fact, we got on so well that he gave me some other contacts to approach. Admittedly, none of those contacts had anything concrete for me either, but that’s down to circumstances and, dare I say, the economic climate, more than anything else. Contrast that to the text message I’ve just got; what a difference!

Regarding this latest interview, I did wonder when I first arrived whether I was a bit too mainstream for what was clearly a funky agency. I had toned down the suited interview look to “nice shirt, nice trousers, nice shoes” but given that my interviewer was wearing Converse All-Stars, I wonder whether she took one look at me and thought, “no, doesn’t fit the brand. Too clean.”

Again, call me an old traditionalist, but am I wrong to look like I’ve made an effort with my interview attire? Surely not. But then I’m usually better dressed than my interviewers and I’ve had a total of, er…one very successful interview (ie, the job I’m currently trying to leave). So maybe I need to be more hip and happening. I appreciate that it’s very much dependent on what sort of job one is going for. A city banker is hardly going to turn up in jeans any more than a fitness trainer is going to turn up in a suit. But what is the ideal middle ground which I seem to be getting wrong? Are jeans actually acceptable these days? Maybe for a funky creative agency, that’s exactly what I should have worn. Ah, but then, which brand? Paul Smith over Levi’s, I would guess.

Luckily, I have both.


November 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

POST #3: Press 1 to speak to someone earning less than you…

So, do you want the good news or the bad news? Let’s start with the bad. End on a high and all that…

I didn’t get accepted for the BBC’s Journalism Training Scheme. Nope, they just didn’t want me. No explanation, but I guess they must get thousands of applicants per year and they can’t analyse every single application…I suppose…

I am, nonetheless, a bit disappointed. I did feel that I’d nailed that “mother” of an application form. It’s funny – with both the jobs I’ve successfully got in the past I’ve almost half-heartedly sent off my CV with a cursory covering letter (because I was just plain worn out by all the other massive application forms) and it’s those that proved to be successful. But surely that can’t be the way forward, can it? Surely employers want me to go through the job spec and say, “I can do that, I can do that, I can do that”. Tick, tick, tick. No?

But anyway, I’ve got a good strategy for this next interview. It’s an interesting role as a “creative and copywriter” in quite a niche market. Essentially, this company provides corporate branded scripts. Scripts for adverts, “on hold” telephone messages and brand-savvy corporate literature. I know I’m going to be tested when I get there, so my guess is it’s going to be something to do with writing a short script. Like most people, I tend to find being on hold rather boring. All that “I’m sorry, but all our operators are busy at the moment. Please continue to hold and we’ll deal with your enquiry as soon as an operator becomes available.” Blurgh! I’ve always thought that if these messages make you laugh, you’re more likely to hold. Agree? The same goes for those automated messages: “Press 1 to check your balance, press 2 for details of your latest payments…” Yawn!  It would depend on the brand, of course. No point in Natwest saying, “Press 1 if you wanna get da low-down on your cashish situation, bro” or “to chat with a brother, slip me some skin on button number 2”. That wouldn’t work, obviously.

That said, say you were phoning up, I don’t know, an insurance company. They’re notoriously bad for keeping people on hold and giving you a billion options. But if that genuinely is necessary, wouldn’t you rather hear something like this? …


Hi, thanks for calling Random Insurance Company. Grab a pen, cos it’ll be helpful to have one once you’ve chosen from the list of following options. But don’t hang up if you don’t happen to have one to hand – you’ll manage.

Press 1 to do such-and-such. Press 2 to do this-and-that. Press 3 to speak to someone rather than listen to any more options.

..Great, thanks for choosing that option. Feel good about it? You should – it was a great choice. Here’s where the pen comes in. Clench it between your teeth, smile broadly and say, “I love it when a plan comes together” like Hannibal from the A-Team. And if you don’t have a pen, turn to the person nearest to you, or find your reflection somewhere, and say “I pity the foo’ who ain’t got no pen!” like Mr T. If you’ve never watched the A-Team, go watch it. Now, let’s get on with it…

Wouldn’t you rather be kept on hold listening to that sort of thing than Greensleeves or Simply The Best? I would. Well, I guess we’ll see how I get on after the test, won’t we?!

PS: You may have spotted that here was no good news. Sorry for building up your hopes – but that’s kinda how I feel after submitting what I consider to be a killer job application. Welcome to my world.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments