Five Job Applications, Five Rejections. Must Try Harder

       Since the start of the year I have been applying for a few jobs in the hope of a smooth transition into new employment.  I have only three parameters that are important.
  • I want to avoid working long hours, five days per week, unless it is for an internship . I have a lot of new experiences and course I want to fit in and I want time to myself and for my family.
  • I do not want to be a tiny cog in the enormous grinding machinery of large Bank or Corporate.  I want to have a voice and feel that what I am doing is important.
  • I want to enjoy the work I do and believe in the product/business.

Sadly, searching for work that matches all three of these criteria is not easy.  For a start, full-time is very much the norm even in a small company.  Making sure I am passionate about the business also limits the number of applications I have made. To find a niche I have been focussing on the start-up world.

       Luckily, I have planned for a year of earning very little which gives me a degree of freedom I have never had before.  Free as a bird, with a wealth of experience behind me and happy to work for nothing, what could possibly stand in my way?  Well, it appears, a stampede of 24 year olds clutching shiny new degrees might be the first hurdle to get over!
       For my whole working life I have been in the minority.  As a woman working in the City I sometimes faced discrimination and hostility and I worked with some challenging individuals who would rather no women had been allowed at all, but in general I enjoyed being outnumbered, I enjoyed the ‘banter’ and often felt like it could be an advantage to be the only woman in a team of men — it was my USP.
       My USP now seems to be my age which is limiting the number of applications I can make.  In the Corporate world hardly a day goes by without the word ‘Diversity’ appearing in a conversation or an e-mail.  In the start-up world I have yet to see mention of the word.  Job adverts avoid any illegal wording by stating ‘this role would suit a new graduate’ or ‘our ideal candidate would have three years work experience’.  All interesting ways to avoid advertising for someone who is ‘young’!
       But why would you want to close the door to anyone with more experience?
       For most start-up roles you are invited to provide a covering letter and to put your heart and soul into the application to show how passionate you are about their business. I am happy to do this as it gives you a chance to show your personality and what you can bring to the table.  However, it now also seems to be acceptable practice to simply ignore job applicants, or send them a terse auto respond e-mail that says the company will only respond to you if there is a ‘match’.  If you have spent the best part of a day constructing your ‘heart and soul’ covering letter surely you deserve an acknowledgement?
       So, a quick summary of my job application disappointments so far without naming and shaming:
  1. A ‘young dynamic start-up’ who are actually already quite a big company.  Application submitted via Jobvite.  Disappointing experience, impersonal automated e-mail saying they will contact you if there is a match, followed by another automated e-mail 5 weeks later saying they will not be taking my application any further.  2/10 for having a response, all be it automated
  2. Unpaid internship at a well known women’s magazine who also wanted a photo attached to the application (why? A way of filtering out older/uglier people?).  No response, no acknowledgement, nothing. 0/10
  3. Application submitted on spec to a small company saying they have no vacancies but would love to hear from people who think they have something to offer. No response, no acknowledgement, nothing 0/10
  4. Application to a small, local company, advertising on a Mum’s website.  Age no issue here as I actually had an interview (yaaayyy go me).  However, I didn’t hear back until I asked for some feedback two weeks later.  5/10 for the personal touch and some late feedback.
  5. Finally, the application for the internship that I really wanted, at Escape The City.  Applicants were told a closing date, a date when they would hear back, and applications were acknowledged.  I was rejected (but nicely) on the day they said they would, and they took the time to put together a blog post on the 50 applications they had received.  Gutted not to get the role (probably more gutted because they were so nice about it), but 8/10 for treating all applicants like human beings and setting a time frame.
Only Escape The City left me feeling positive towards the company I had applied to, in my eyes it strengthens their brand and makes me want to try again in the future.

So, one interview and 5 rejections so far.  I give myself 2/10, must try harder.  If you are also going through automated job applications I would love to hear how you are getting past the first hurdle and getting interviews!

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