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.