The 1st September marks one year since I handed in my dissertation and completed my MA.
Perhaps the title here is misleading – the news is, there is no news.
I had honestly expected to have a job by now – my opening blog in January was optimistic that I would be able to do this, and get a job, and begin making my way in my new career. That’s not quite how it’s gone.
- Applications: 65
- Of which the roles were withdrawn: 2
- Of which I withdrew my application: 2
- Interviews: 19
- Of which were second stage: 4
- Of which were single-stage interviews: 4
So, looking at total interviews vs applications, I am getting roughly 29% return. However, that’s from total number of interviews, not roles. Looking at outcomes for applications vs roles interviewed for, the numbers are less favourable, clocking in at 23%. Less than a quarter of the roles I’ve applied for have invited me for an interview. Taking away the roles that were withdrawn, or from which I withdrew, brings the percentage up to 24.5%. However, the two roles I withdrew my application from were roles which I had interviewed for and found that the job was not suited to me for various reasons, so perhaps those need to be considered in the numbers as I am counting their interviews. This brings us to a total of 15 interviews out of 63 applications, a progression rate of 23.8%.
And an offer rate of 0%.
I did write another blog post about this earlier in the summer, but took it down, trying to regain my positivity and push forwards. In that, I was trying to analyse how I could move forwards, why I wasn’t getting these jobs. This post is more of a ‘State of the Union’. It isn’t about the how and why, but just about what is.
My first job application was sent on 27th July 2017, or thereabouts. From end of July 2017 to end of August 2018, that is approximately 56 weeks, assuming an average of four weeks per month. 65 applications in 56 weeks works out at 1.16 applications per week. 19 interviews across 56 weeks works out at one interview every 2.9 weeks – although it hasn’t worked out quite so cleanly, at one point I had four interviews for four different roles in a seven day period. These bracketed a weekend where I had to travel to Cornwall for a wedding, so to the people who interviewed me towards the end of that week I apologise – you weren’t getting the best ‘me’ by a long shot.
One thing that has come out of this, however, is that I have significantly improved my interview technique. I have historically been appalling at interviews, although one thing I noticed immediately about applying for publishing jobs was that my interview anxiety had already dropped a huge amount because I knew I could do these jobs, and I knew what I was talking about, and I was passionate and ready for it. Long gone were the days of accidentally swearing in an interview, or getting feedback that said “you were better than the girl with the flu”, or saying that learning the names of plants would help with my Latin homework.
Over the years I had developed tricks to help mitigate myself – pre-typing answers to common questions which I could refer to and adapt, annotating the job spec to show how I met each requirement, revising at length information about the company, and bringing it all with me in a binder to the interview. Some of the most valuable feedback I received was when I was in my first job after university. I was lucky enough to work in recruitment, so I was given tips from people who literally hired people for a living.
- The recruiters want you to be the answer to their problem, they want you to do well. You’re there because they already know you can do the job, you just have to show them you’re the best person to do the job.
- It’s not a test – you can take notes in with you to refer to during the interview. I have found saying “I have done some preparation, I hope you don’t mind if I refer to it” at the start is the best way to bring it about.
- If you need time to think about a question, say so. Not everything has to be an instant response – take your time and answer well, rather than quickly.
The feedback I have got has been universally positive. There are areas I have been given to work on, and in taking those on board, and asking for support and advice from people I know and who have been extremely patient with me, I seem to be improving still further. I can’t help but wish that I can get to the point where I’ve improved enough, but that’s another matter.
The Big Picture
I won’t deny that I’m tired. Emotionally and psychologically, but that seems to feel physical too. I have thrown all my free time at trying to get a publishing job. I have used up all my holiday on interviews and had to buy more, as well as working as much overtime as I can to build up Time Off In Lieu that I can use. I have spent so much money on rail fares, so many hours preparing for interviews.
Sometimes I feel regretful that I didn’t get a job at the end of my MA, when I was still on a high and buzzing from all I had done and achieved. I felt like I could do anything. A year later, I’m not in that headspace any more. I have had some mental health difficulties which I have been working to address. Would these have come to the fore had I got a publishing job? Who knows, but I suspect not. The time I spent in publishing energised me, empowered me and had me feeling better than I had in a long time. The commute gave me time to myself to relax, read or pursue my creative interests, whilst the work engaged and challenged me in all the right ways. I was excited about it.
I still am excited about it, underneath the tired. I want this so much, I’ve invested so much into it – the money for the degree and the additional expenses, the time, the applications. Now I just need someone to want me as much as I want them.
So the news is, there is no news. But there’s still a little hope.