Rejection... from The Age - Part 1

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Hello readers, thought I would scare you with a little photo of myself and to make a connection with the post below.
Everyone will tell you when applying for jobs: you have to be prepared for rejection.

I have had my fair share of rejection. I've not made the cut for jobs I've applied for at The Geelong AdvertiserQantas MagazineMarketing MagazineThe Adelaide Advertiser, The Echo (Byron Bay), The Herald Sun, Channel 7 and even Cosmopolitan - just to name a few.

Most recently, I received a rejection e-mail for a traineeship at The Age. They were looking for people with both journalism and photographic experience, which I have a lot of (along with a journalism degree and various other experience), so I was hopeful that I would make it to the interview round. I even stretched my contacts far and emailed Caroline Wilson, because my Grandma's hairdresser knows her and said it would be good to get in contact with her. 

Researching some old famous journalists for this blog, I've noticed that many got their good start with a cadetship at The Age, Herald Sun or any other capital city daily newspaper. Knowing that they had received over 400 applications, I rang The Age every second day for two weeks, trying to talk to the HR person so that I could show my interest and beg for an interview. Voice mail seemed to be a common echo as I never actually spoke to the HR person I asked for.

Eventually I spoke to Colin McKinnon, who is the Editor of Training and Development at The Age. He said that, as the email confirming that my resume had been received had said, I would get a response some time in November and we were still in November so I must wait.

Last Thursday the rejection email came through:

"Thank you for your interest and application for the role of Editorial Trainee with The Age. We received many excellent applications. The process of shortlisting and giving each candidate proper consideration is a process that we attach great importance to.

Unfortunately on this occasion your application has not been successful.

We would like to thank you for your interest in Fairfax and take this opportunity to wish you every success in your future career search. Please do not hesitate to apply for any of our future positions that may be of interest to you."

Immediately I felt a rush of motivation (I have a typical left handed person's trait of being quick tempered) that I just must must must call this Colin McKinnon man and try begging for an interview again, ASAP. I really didn't know how to go about this whim and probably went about it the wrong way. When I got through to him I said what first came into my head, something along the lines of how passionate I am for the media, how I've had a lot of experience and love The Age and could I please have an interview even though the rejection email just flew in?

And he said... NO! On this occasion, HR had conducted a thorough examination of the resumes and mine did not make the cut. Try again next time. If I wanted more specific feedback on my resume, call back at the start of December.

So then I tried to tap into my creativity as my mind flew at a million miles per hour. Could I think of a statement right now that could somehow convince him that if I was given an interview, I would prove him wrong? Hmmm... nothing coming to mind. Should I offer to buy him a box of chocolates? He didn't really sound like a chocolate box kind of person. Is there some kind of fantastic lie or truth I can say about myself, like knowing some golden news story information that I could use to trade in for an interview? Hmmm... I am from Essendon but the whole Underbelly scene has been fairly quiet lately and, reality check Sarah, I don't know anything! Do I put on the waterworks and cry? Better not.

Instead, I verbally vomited, "I promise that if I was given an interview and made it to be trainee at The Age, I will be the best trainee you have ever had and work extremely, ridiculously hard and put in huge hours." It was quite possibility one of the worst things I could say as he responded rightly, "Well, yes, I am sure you would but we tend to hear that from a lot of people." He was very right and I felt stupid for saying such a ridiculous thing but I was honestly lost for words.

Does any one else have any ideas of what they think I could have said? Or what they think I should have done?

Nevertheless, what will be will be. Thought I would share that experience with you. There could have been a plenty of reasons why I didn't get an interview. Perhaps more intelligent people applied. Maybe when they went over my resume they psycho-analysed it and thought I wasn't appropriate. There could have been a spelling errors somewhere I didn't know about. Maybe I just wasn't what they were looking for. After all, a piece of paper on a resume is so much different to meeting someone in person - hence why you hear about a lot of CEOs these days tearing up resumes and hiring people based on their instincts. I believe the best thing to do now is just go back to the drawing board and reassess my resume and cover letter, which I will definitely do.

I won't let the rejection bog me down and make me feel terrible. I will get back on my bike and continue to apply for jobs in journalism. Hopefully, time and place will coincide and I will meet a kindred spirit that I will work with in the future.

Part 2 on Rejection will come soon.

Comment (1)

I'm 'planting seeds' (as one of you phrased it in a recent post!) at the moment, but from everything I've read recently, it sounds like journalism/writing are massively competitive these days. I can remember back in 2000 when I was trying to decide between journalism or a generic BA at uni, I gave up on the journalism idea because the TER requirement at the time was only a couple of points below that required to get into law school! I don't know what it's like now, but in terms of actually finding work ... the competition is massive and it seems like so much of it is based on how well you've networked and what connections you have. Which isn't particularly helpful, but it does mean it was probably less about how you look on paper, and more to do with not being connected in the right places?

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