Thursday, 7 April 2011


I have some big interviews coming up. And I am anxious.

I don't mean anxious about the interviews themselves. That is passé and in my case false. It is a broader anxiety. There is a possiblity that none of these applications come to anything. An interview followed by a rejection can be taken as a lesson. You can analyse where you need to improve, perhaps pinning your failure down to interview technique rather than anything more chronic. However, multiple rejections would surely indicate that there is something fundamentally lacking in the applicant.

As it happens I have only had one rejection so far. I have reason to be encouraged - the majority of the firms I have applied to have expressed interest, and I have so far been offered three interviews (two of which are coming up very soon). The first interview resulted in failure.

Of course I understand these are very competitive positions I am applying for. That in itself doesn't daunt me. It's a fact. Nor do I have any doubt that I'll get a position eventually. Different firms look for different things in their candidates, and rejection from one firm does not mean rejection from the profession as a whole. But if interview after interview results in failure, then failure can not simply be put down to 'interview technique'. Indeed, I felt my last interview went well, but I was rejected all the same. Sometimes you have to realise that even if you're a 'good' candidate there will be several other applicants who are 'very good'. And that, essentially, 'good' isn't good enough.

Which begs the question - what is 'good enough'? Well, that's not an easy question as different candidates may be attractive for different reasons. But the point is, they are attractive. They have established a good life-narrative and fulfil the relevant competencies. Sure they will have worked hard for this, and sure they too will have had to have milked their skills and acheivements dry. But they are milking a bigger cow than I, a cow that has walked many pastures. Their milk is fatter and fuller.

Luckily I have a Plan B. It's actually just a longer route to Plan A, but would involve fulfilling many of the apparent gaps in my résumé. I know exactly how I would go about this plan and it is very likely to succeed. I won't tell you the specifics - there's no point. It's elegant and efficient and perhaps utterly neccessary. It would involve hard work, but varied work and work with a common purpose. Other aspects of my life will suffer, but they're suffering already. May as well suffer for something worth suffering for rather than simply walking in a circle with one foot chained to the floor. And that's been the problem - each time I write an application at the moment I have no idea what the chances are of its succeeding. And that's OK for, say, the first two months of applications (god, it's been that long. I have been doing other stuff though, although maybe that's part of the problem). But when I set out on my applications I expected that I would have an offer by April or May. Of course there's still time to go, but if these two current big ones fail then suddenly I'm back where I started. Now, sticking to your guns is one thing. But what if you're simply firing blanks? I'm shooting at the right target, that I know. But who's to say my shots are getting through the armour? Perhaps my pistol isn't good enough.

Analogies aside: the point is, if several applications fail at interview stage then the common denominator is me. And if I continue applying and find myself in mid-June with nothing in the pipeline, I will have wasted an awful lot of time and have nothing to show for it other than experience and some good war stories.

I am tempted to invoke Einstein's definition:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Of course my Plan B does involve hard work. But it will without question improve my employability. I feel rather ashamed that I hadn't thought of something like this before. But now I have, hurray!

I don't mind working hard. Not at all. But only so long as I know where the work is heading and it is a goal which is both worthy and plausible. I've been hiding from the world too long

I would also like to make the point that I do not blame anyone for what I perceive to be my own long-term apathy and lack of ambition.

I also don't really care if I alientate people in the process. I've never spent enough time trying to fulfil my ambitions and now I am definitively trying to rectify that, and though I have already barred myself from a number of time/energy/cash-consuming pleasures (chiefly visiting friends in other parts of the country - I have only left Brighton once since February and that was for an interview) I shall bar myself from more still if I have to.

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