Alexandra Rucki is a recent MA Print Journalism graduate at the University of Sheffield. She won an NCTJ journalism diversity fund bursary to fund her postgraduate study. She has started working as a content manager, writer and web editor for a new travel website launching in October. She tweets here and blogs at sloucher.org and the ruckiblog.
Over the past two months I have had at least one job interview a week. To coincide with this I have also had seven job rejections. It can be rather demoralising for any wannabehack, just inches away from landing that dream job, to then receive the rejection letter in the post. Here is how I learned to deal with being rejected:
1. Ask for feedback
Hearing how badly you performed at an interview does sound like the last thing on earth you want to experience after receiving the dreaded rejection letter. But it is definitely worth getting in touch with your contact and asking for feedback on how you performed. It can be really helpful for future interviews, because you also get feedback on what you did well. The Sun informed me I had not shown enough passion for the brand, so now I spend a good few days researching who the interview is with. Sometimes feedback can act as a reassurance. I thought I had done well at an interview for a local weekly and was surprised when I was rejected. The feedback was complimentary, but said another candidate was from the area and so would have more local knowledge for the job.
2. Use the situation to build contacts
Treat every interview as a way to build more contacts. Even if you do not get the job, you have gained an email address of an editor to add to your contact book who has considered you good enough to work for them. When asking for feedback it is worth asking if there are any opportunities for freelance work. I have got contacts with editors at national newspapers through job rejections who have all said they are open to freelancers if you pitch them ideas.
3. Find out how many applied for the job
Try and find out how many people applied for the job, either when asking for feedback or at some point during the interview process. It can be real boost of confidence when you find out you were knuckled down to the last eight candidates, out of the 700 who applied for the job. You should treat getting to interview stage as an achievement in itself.
4. Chase them up
It took over a month for the agency I had my first interview with to get back to me on whether I was successful. This is somewhat unfair, as it leaves wannabehacks in an awkward situation of whether to continue applying for more jobs or to start preparing for that second interview. I have learned now to start chasing interviewers up and phoning around if I haven’t heard anything over a maximum period of two weeks. Be prepared to be fobbed off though. I have still not heard back from some interviews that took place over a month ago.
5. And most importantly – keep at it
Keep persevering and don’t get down-hearted over being rejected. Continue plugging away and applying for everything that is out there. If you didn’t get the job then it definitely wasn’t for you. In retrospect, I realised that I would not have fitted in to some of the newsrooms that I stepped into. Learn from your mistakes so that you don’t do the same thing again in the next interview. It may be eighth time lucky before you get there, but perseverance pays off in the end.
If you have any other tips on how to avoid job rejections (the Hacks know a bit about it and then some more but could always do with that bit extra..), drop us a tweet at @wannabehacks or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look