Saturday, December 10, 2011

Congratulations, you didn't get the job.

A couple of weeks ago I went for an interview for the position of Communications Assistant at East Sussex County Council. The role had elements of Public Relations, marketing, internal communications, copy writing and administration. Right up my street. I was delighted to get the interview, imagining there would have been many far more experienced candidates applying.

I did my research, looking into the work of the particular department, the software they use and their internal publications and approached the interview with the attitude that it would be good experience, I was very pleased to have got this far and would be amazed if I got the job, so needn't be downhearted if or when I didn't.

The interview offered me plenty of opportunity to demonstrate the transferable skills that were my main selling point and show what I knew about the role but I struggled a little on my answers to questions about specific marketing techniques and communications within large organisations, leaving me relying on common sense and broad experience. I took examples of press releases I written in the past as well as publicity I'd generated in Taiwan for a charity bike ride and when my touring bike was stolen, and these went down well.

I left the interview feeling that I'd done the best I could given my experience and though I probably hadn't got the job, it had been a worthwhile experience.

A few days later I got the call. The initial wording and tone of voice were exactly as I've experienced before. "...I'm sorry to say you were not successful on this occasion" but the woman went on to say that from a field of 28, I was their second choice and that I was definitely employable in that position. I was virtually dumbstruck. This was a real job with real pay and the potential for a career using the language skills I hope to use, and I'd come close to getting it.

The real value of knowing that I'd come close is in knowing what kind of jobs are worth applying for. I know if I apply for a job paying £30,000, there's next to no chance of me being considered. But what about £20,000 or £15,000? After 10 years out, I have very little idea what I should expect to be earning in due course.

So a positive experience in more ways than one, though I am now left with a slightly frustrating feeling of having come closer that I expected. Maybe next time the added confidence will make all the difference.


  1. Hi Toby,

    Came to this blog via a WriteClub email (ex Tokyoite expat myself, so many of the posts here I've dipped into have chimed with my own experiences).

    Getting back into the UK job market when you're not totally sure where (if) you fit any more and 'in a recession' can be a very challenging thing to go through. A lot of people here don't really know what to do with the kind of experience you bring back from spending a long time in an Asian metropolis, let alone thriving in one!

    Getting something to get you up and running again has got to be the priority - working every contact you might still have for a connection to a job is likely to be a better route to employment than ploughing through job ads.

    My thought anyway, for what they're worth...

  2. Hi Toby,

    Having spent the past hour reading through your articles, I certainly relate to your situation and feelings. I've just returned from 3 years in Japan, and I'm waiting for my Japanese girlfriend to arrive. My girlfriend and I are already having thoughts about returning to Japan in the near future.

    You're obviously really talented at writing. I guess you've already looked into it, and it could be possibly be completely false, but I hear people can make money from blogging.

    I'm sorry if I may have overlooked this in your articles, but can I ask why did you return to the UK? I was reluctant to return, but I did so to retrieve a career in a non-teaching profession.

    1. The reason I returned.... because after 9 years it was a matter of if not now then when? I think that after 10 years, you've pretty much become a lifer and your chances of fitting back in are ever decreasing. My wife and I are in our mid 30s and if we are to settle down, sooner is better than later. She actually has a career and doesn't want to have to start again from scratch when she's much older than she is now - she's probably turned down or avoided longer term opportunities that she could have taken with the thought of us returning here in mind. If I stayed in Taiwan any longer, I'd have to do something more serious, or more seriously, than teaching young kids, such as teaching at a higher level. Stagnation was the alternative.


Follow by Email