With my Masters course at City University London nearing it’s conclusion, I’ve begun the search for a full-time job. Recently I applied for an online trainee role at national newspaper, submitted a carefully tailored CV and a cover email with links to my work on the web.
I was pleased to get through to the next stage, where I was asked to compile a review of the paper’s social media presence, but unfortunately I didn’t make it any further and was kindly informed of the decision that I wouldn’t be asked in for interview.
As was the case after my Telegraph grad scheme rejection, I made a point of asking for feedback on my application. In that instance, I received a courteous call from someone in the careers department informing me that I wasn’t a million miles away while highlighting a few areas of improvement.
On this occasion, though, despite politely making a similar request for constructive feedback, all I got was the following email:
Sorry Ben, I’d love to help but I’d never get any work done.
You can’t have been doing much wrong as you were through to the penultimate stage from a very large field.
Now I know people, and especially journalists, are busy. But I thought this was an inadequate response to what was a simple and well-meaning request. Presumably not everyone who applied for the role asked for feedback? And even if they did would it be so hard to open my CV/review (presumably in the same email thread) and make ONE piece of advice?
All I wanted was one or two sentences on the fact that I hadn’t done the task as requested, that I’d been to critical or not critical enough. Instead I got two sentences that hardly helped at all and, if anything, confused me even further about why I hadn’t progressed to interview. (The vagueness of the reply even made me wonder if my review had even been read..)
The process of asking and being flatly refused feedback got me wondering about news organisations attitude’s towards rejected applicants and whether they believed there was any point in replying to failed applicants like me? What is there for them to gain? And is there any other profession as bad as journalism for providing feedback and passing on wisdom? At times journalism seems the most insular and inward-looking profession, whereby once you are in, you have no requirement to help those who were once like you.
Saying that, I have had some very good experiences with journalists willing to talk to me on the phone and via email on how to progress in the industry. But the specific process of applying for jobs relies on, in my mind, that process of feedback. All employers have to do is spend 5 minutes jogging their memory about the candidate and provide a couple of points to avoid the application ordeal becoming a complete waste of time.
In journalism, with the nature of competition for each job, this process of feedback surely becomes even more important. How else are aspiring journalists meant to improve and learn?
Have you ever asked for feedback on a job application and not heard back? Do you think there is ever any point asking for advice on how to improve? Comment below (and tick the tweet button to automatically notify your followers you have commented on the site) or email us at hacks[at]wannabehacks[dot]co[dot]uk
- Paul Bradshaw: Objectivity has changed – why hasn’t journalism? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAly__wfnT0 Objectivity is one of the key pillars of journalistic...
- The worrying trend of ego in young journalists Paul Bradshaw, in his inaugural lecture at City University London,...
- The Wannabe Hacks nominate their best journalism placement for our top 50 Wannabe Hacks have launched their quest to find the top...
- Ed Oldfield: Times change but good journalism stays the same Ed Oldfield, a production journalist with South West Media Group...
- How to get work experience | part four: chasing up your email/letter and forging contacts So you’ve got it into your head to do work...
After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look