Resilience is everything. You’ll get rejections, but they don’t define you. One day, when you do get an email starting with ‘We’re sorry’ or ‘Unfortunately’, take it as a learning curve. Take the initiative to email back and ask for feedback. Sometimes you’re just not the right fit for their job criteria and there might’ve just been someone better suited on the day. I’ve heard of stories where people have been rejected in their interviews because they didn’t mention a specific word! These things happen. Trying to find out what you could do better from the employer’s perspective, as well as reaffirming what your individual strengths are will make you all the more prepared for the next time you apply for any job.
The creative industry can be an incredibly cut-throat world. No matter what it is you’re trying to achieve, or which corner of the industry it is that you’re trying to infiltrate, one thing that I have come to learn is that contacts are often more important than outright skill. Of course, it’s important to continue to develop and hone your abilities along the way, but often, opportunities will come as a result of knowing the right people. Expand your network in any way you can, whether it be through social media networking or putting yourself out there a little more in person. It can be daunting, but infinitely rewarding.
Before getting into the job market, I wish that I knew a few things. A big thing I wish someone had told me is that rejections are normal; they do not mean you are not intelligent or a hard worker, it just means you are not what the company is looking for right now, or more often than not, that someone else fits what they are looking for better. I wish that I knew that nothing is personal, the company just has to do what is best for them, and they don’t have anything against you personally. Every job you apply for, and every rejection you receive is just adding to your experience, and getting you one step closer to your future job.
First impressions are important, and you need to stand out from the crowd. Jobs in journalism, along with many other fields, are often very competitive and with limited positions available. Unfortunately, the creative industry isn’t like a corporate job where the company has unlimited funds and positions to fill. So, I’ve often found myself competing with hundreds of applicants, likely more qualified than I, all vying for one position. In all cases, but especially ones like these, going out of your way to make a good first impression on the hiring manager can go a long way. Take the time to email the hiring manager after submitting your application; introduce yourself, attach your resume and briefly explain why you are interested in the position. This won’t always guarantee you the job, but it’ll certainly make the hiring manager remember you and make a connection that will almost certainly benefit you later. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and stand out from the crowd.
One of the things I found difficult to get out of my head when I was first applying for jobs was that my career and its successes defined me. First of all, it is great to be passionate about your career, but you have got to allow space for other things. Through thinking in such a career centric way, it was elevating my stress levels every time I applied for a job as getting the job became my only measure of self worth. It is important alongside applying for jobs you feel validated in other areas of your life. Making careers the centre of your life can harm your mental health, so I recommend having other outlets and interests that make you feel good when job rejections come through. Just because you are not progressing as quickly as you would like to does not mean you won’t get there in the end. Prioritise taking care of you throughout this process as well or your applications will not reflect the best of you.
And yes! I really should start taking my own advice.
You’re not going to land your ideal job as soon as you send off a few applications. It takes time and a lot of effort; writing and rewriting your CV, getting feedback on applications and interviews, and expanding your portfolio. It can be incredibly easy to feel overwhelmed and/or demoralised when you’re facing rejection after rejection, but you need to be able to turn it into a positive and take something from it. It can be worth asking why they didn’t think you were the right fit for the position, for example – they may not always reply, but if they do, you’ll have some valuable feedback. Remember to constantly work on networking, too. After all: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. (It’s a cliché for a reason!)