I have been applying for lots and lots and lots of jobs. About fifty so far, and I have many more on the to-do list. My policy is to apply for anything and everything that could conceivably accept me. Now is not the time to be fussy. I know that I'm on the shortlist for one, currently, but I've got fairly used to receiving rejections. I've developed a philosophical attitude towards them - after all, the earthquake has delayed my thesis by at least a month, so it's quite lucky I am not currently expected to be working full-time as well as finishing my thesis.
The problem with my policy is that I feel like I'm getting a little blasé about the whole application process. I spent yesterday afternoon applying for about fifteen jobs. Writing cover letters, rewriting cover letters, making small alterations to my CV, firing through online applications, filing away the job descriptions and the date I applied for them. Quickly quickly quickly, so I can get back to work.
Turns out that in my speed I was not very careful with one of them. I received an email this morning from the HR person in charge of a copywriter/freelance writing vacancy saying "Hello, we received your application, but we are not [Insert Company here] nor do we need a [Insert vacancy here]." Obviously I had managed to forget to alter those crucial words in my cover letter, even though I had changed everything else to suit the position.
I groaned, swallowed my pride, apologised profusely and offered a corrected version. Response: "Well, if you seriously want to work as a copywriter, I'd advise you edit your own cover letter properly. Obviously, I can't accept your application. Sorry. You seem like a nice person."
Ouch. And touché, good point, and all the rest of it.
The pity of it is that I was actually quite excited about that application. That job sounded much more intriguing than the majority of the other things I have been applying for. It would also have allowed me to work from Christchurch, unlike most available jobs at the moment.
I have had other moments of embarrassment. I applied for a job as a proofreader for a magazine publishing company. Not particularly exciting so I haven't lost much sleep over that one. However, only a few hours after applying, I got a phone call from HR, who wanted to talk to me about it. Unfortunately, when they got to the inevitable question - "And what do you think of [Insert name here] magazine?" - I had to admit that I had never laid eyes on this magazine before, and didn't even have a clue what type of magazine it was. Cringe! Not a good look! (It was a lifestyle/home decorating magazine, as it turns out.)
Another experience: I had a phone interview for a local job in a library. I do feel I was slightly unfairly treated here, because they told me beforehand it was just a phone call to check things like the date I would be available, and then they proceeded to ask all the standard interview questions. Including: "Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult experience with a customer?" I was flummoxed. I have NEVER had a bad experience with a customer. And I have worked several customer service jobs. I didn't know what to say, and it showed. (I've come to the conclusion now that I should simply have been honest. I haven't had bad customer service experiences, and that probably shows that I am good at dealing with customers. I shouldn't have to feel like it doesn't.)
I think the problem is that because I am already doing what is basically a full-time job (writing a thesis), a job that is by necessity absolutely consuming, I don't feel like I have time to take job applications seriously. I am also coming from a background of studenthood, in which I have paid people to accept me into their organisation! People in the real world, however, don't have to be fair, or consider everything about your application, or account for your mistakes. They can ring you entirely out of the blue and expect you to know everything about their organisation. They only need to see one single unfavourable thing about you and it will sour your entire application. I'm not complaining - but it's a mental adjustment for me to make. And it's scary!