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? …
RANDOM INSURANCE COMPANY:
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.
Well, it’s in: my application for the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme.
Trainee. Hm. I need training. Well, retraining, certainly. There’s something about the word “trainee” that makes me think of apprentices on one of the government’s Yoof Training Schemes, for some reason. I’m no snob, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. That label.
Actually, that’s rubbish. I think maybe I am a bit of an intellectual snob. I do constantly look at people and wonder how the heck they keep their jobs, let alone get them in the first place. Not just anybody, you understand. I mean people who have better jobs than me. For instance, I recently applied to one of the country’s (in fact, world’s) leading academic institutions for a communications role. I won’t name them in case it comes back to bite me on the bottom when I eventually win the Booker Prize. But anyway, the first sentence, from the head of that department, read: “May thanks for your email.” That’s right. “May“. Given that much of the job would have involved proofreading for this person (or at least, this department) I kinda think that he should have practised what he inevitably would have preached and proofread his own emails before sending them out. In a two-sentence email, there were three mistakes. Nothing as forehead-slapping as “should of” or something equally toe-curling, but honestly, sir, if I’m going to spend time asking you for a job, at least have the grace to make just a little bit of an effort when you tell me to sod off.
Applications, as many of you will know (unless you’re lucky enough to be in your dream job already, or ambitionless enough not to care that you aren’t) can be very tiresome and very long. The one for the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme, for example, requires one to write four mini-essays. That’s quite a lot, I thought, as I got down to business. Not only that, but you have to constantly use the lingo of the day which, in my experience, mainly refers to being “passionate” all the time. Passionate about editing. Passionate about new technology. Passionate about being passionate… How anyone can be passionate about auditing or chartered accountancy is beyond me, to be honest. Whilst I like working with words, I hold up my hands and say that I’m actually a lot more passionate about being happy, healthy, enjoying life with my wife, Formula 1, the odd glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate.
But rules is rules and I’ve just made pretty damn sure that I’ve come across as passionate in all four of my application essays. And they’d better bloody believe it; I spent hours on that mother…