Exams ended, celebrations were held, graduation was attended. Time to face the big, wide world and tackle the rejection I’d faced head on with a fresh CV and a new round of job applications!
As previous readers may know, I sent off a whole load of applications – all for publishing internships (not entry level jobs, as it was too early) in April/May, just before revision and finals got under way. Unfortunately, this meant I had to deal with a lot of rejection emails during a period where I needed motivation rather than discouragement. There was one particular day where I’d already been in the library for five hours and 6 emails came through at the same time: all from PRH intern roles I’d applied for, all ‘regretting to inform me’ that I’d been unsuccessful. Some others, I didn’t hear back from at all. I was gutted, particularly about applications that I’d put my heart and soul into, and many, many hours.
But it was naive to think that such sought-after positions would fall so easily and quickly into my hands. These are the big publishing houses and they get thousands of applications for every role, particularly in regards to internships because they only run annually and there are many similarly eager recent grads waiting to apply. However, one good thing which came out of this process was feedback. The PRH application system allows for this, and it gives a really good overview. My applications for these internships had been blindly submitted and too the form of short essay answers to three questions. The person who looked at my answers then marked them, ranging from ‘poor’ to ‘strong’. The feedback page also gave a graphic display of where you sat in comparison to the average for those answers, marking you on qualities such as ‘passion’ and ‘motivation’. The majority of my (18) answers were marked as ‘good’ with a few ‘strong’s and a few ‘weak’s. For me, this was a really helpful thing to see because it made me feel like I wasn’t completely failing, and it alerted me to the fact that companies want to see things like passion, when I’d initially thought they’d just be interested in your experience and skills.
So, after graduation and a few weeks of not thinking about work, I turned my hand to a new round of job applications, going back over my feedback from rejections. I was also being selective with what I was applying to; I found myself umm-ing and ahh-ing over PA roles, and publicity roles, but ultimately decided that I knew I wasn’t right for that job so I shouldn’t waste hours writing covering letters for them when I could use that time finding more suitable roles. Most internships have now closed, but a lot of publishing houses and literary agents still take on work experience placements all year round, not to mention hiring at entry level such as Editorial Assistant. I decided that my best bet was probably to look at smaller companies rather than the Big 5.
Twitter has been my friend this past week – alerting me to some really great opportunities, and I actually feel like it’s a better way to find vacancies than some job sites!
Here are the top 5 things I’ve learnt from this round of applications:
- Be selective. You do not have to apply for everything! In fact, that would be useless because they’d be half-hearted applications and it would show and in the end none of them would work out. Always ask yourself, if I actually got this job, would I want to do it? If the answer is no, don’t waste valuable application time.
- Limit yourself to a couple of hours of job-searching twice a week. When you spend all your time applying and getting nowhere, it can put you into a slump. It shouldn’t be your whole life, but something you set a bit of time aside to do every couple of days or weeks.
- Find out who you should be addressing your covering letter to. Once again, Twitter will help you out with this, as many companies have careers pages, or even just their main page, where you can ask them who to address your application to. It gives a personal touch and shows you’ve taken the time to find out who you are speaking to.
- Think of a way to make your CV or covering letter stand out. Be original. Maybe it could be a photo of yourself at the top of the CV, or a certain way of formatting. Unfortunately for you, I’m not giving away my special trick!
- Read your CV and covering letter and application form like 10 times. It’s boring reading your own words and sometimes cringe-inducing, but just do it. You’ll still find things that on that 10th read that have a typo or mis-phrasing. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage because you can’t be bothered.
So, hopefully some good news on the horizon soon! And I wish anybody else in the same boat good luck!