In the past three weeks I’ve been turned down for three separate jobs. That is, to say the least, disheartening. At least two of the four I was 100% qualified for and would have been amazing at. The third was a little more iffy, but it was nothing that I didn’t have at least some experience with, so could have still done an amazing job.
That’s a pretty tight timespan and has, quite frankly, impacted my usually sunny disposition. Without naming any names, here’s what happened in all three situations.
Job 1: Freelance Writer and Editor
This came in through a recruitment firm I receive regular emails from. After I responded with my qualifications the firm set up a time for me to talk to the company itself. I had two interviews with them in one day where I heard about the job, shared my experience and background and expressed a strong interest in working with them. It wasn’t a full-time hire but a 40-hour/week freelance gig but the opportunity to work with this company and be involved in story discovery, editorial planning and more was very alluring.
It was about a week after those two interviews that I heard through the recruitment firm that they’d selected someone else. The news shouldn’t have been that big a deal, but it came right in the middle of one of my part-time retail shifts and so it hit me a bit harder than it otherwise would have. The narrative my internal voices filled in was that no, you’re not good enough and you were silly for believing otherwise. I’ll be honest, it was a couple days before I shook that one off and moved on.
Job 2: Content Editor
This was a position I applied for directly myself. One of my stated goals in the last year and a half has been to work for or with a Chicago company since I haven’t done so since 2005, when I left Bacon’s Information for MWW Group. This would have given me the opportunity to do just that and be in an exciting field with lots of room for growth. I’d be managing a nationwide team of writers and, again, doing story discovery while balancing an overall editorial calendar. Once more, I had two interviews – this time over the course of a couple weeks – and submitted both a writing and editing sample, both of which I felt I nailed.
Last week I got the form email saying the company had selected someone else. This one came in while I was shoulder-deep in a couple other freelance projects so the news was received much better. Maybe not positively, but it didn’t send me down into the Pit of Despair. I was actively engaged in something else and so took the attitude of “OK, well, on to the next thing.”
JOB 3: Growth Manager
Again, this came to my attention through a recruitment firm, but just because the recruiter felt I’d be a good match for it, not after I responded to a listing. The company was looking for someone to manage paid ads and do content editing. That meant the Venn Diagram of what they were looking for and what my experience/skillset is overlapped to the least extent of the three possible gigs. Still, nothing I couldn’t handle. This one didn’t even make it to the interview stage as I was sent a link to a survey to fill out where I answered two sets of questions: What personality traits did I feel best described me and which ones did I feel were most applicable to the job in question. The same ~40 traits were listed on each page, though the order was mixed up.
Yesterday I received word from the recruiter that the company would not be bringing me in for an interview. It seems my answers had revealed a personality that was too “methodical” while the hiring personnel were seeking someone more prone to “risk-taking.”
This is perhaps the least useful feedback I’ve ever received. The decision was made by calculating the value of a few dozen checked boxes, not after getting to know me or hearing about my experience and mindset. The other two, at least, resulted from a decent amount of both quantitative and qualitative information. It’s the kind of test that should tell you what sort of job you’re qualified for, not whether or not you qualify for a job.
Of course I’m disappointed that I didn’t get any of these three positions. With a bit of perspective, it may be more signs from above that freelancing from home is where the good Lord wants me to be at the moment. At least the first two I can feel came after I was able to present a fully-rounded picture of myself and my talents. If I wasn’t who they were looking for, OK, I’ll accept that. All I ask is the opportunity to do just that, not be judged solely on the basis of a test I didn’t know I was taking.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.