Feeling good about a failure

Published on 12 November 2008 in , ,

It’s coming up to 9 years in January, since I joined the BBC. And in that time, I’ve managed a whopping two job applications for non-BBC jobs. Not even interviews – applications.

When I look at that statement in the cold light of day right now, that seems almost ridiculous. But the BBC is an interesting place to work, you’re generally treated well and whilst not paid the best wages, the conditions are good. And the work is of a variety you’d struggle to find elsewhere. Over the last two years I have product managed a major back end feed publishing system migration, a new red button Sport Portal, the launch of a whole new interactive TV platform and right now am working on a major project for CBeebies. And that’s just the big projects.

That’s quite a variety and it’s been like that in one way or other for most of those nine years. Except the bit in 2001 where I spent months on end changing code on thousands of different web pages so that the BBC could move its global navigation from the left of the screen, to the top.

One of the problems with that kind of variety is that it’s almost impossible to know where on earth you’d want to go if you left (suggestions on a postcard or by using the comment box below!) which is perhaps one reason why I’ve rarely considered it, preferring to change jobs within the BBC instead.

However it’s always good to know what kind of work is out there, and I recently started paying attention to a few job mailing lists to get an idea of what’s going on – my other option of waiting around hoping for the email that says “I’ve just read your website and really like what you write. Would you consider coming to join us to pootle around and do some product management, whilst blogging on the side? We’ll throw in a ridiculously good salary for no apparent reason too.”

Back in the real world, and things are slightly less exciting (can’t deny it – I prefer the fantasy!) – ad sales or telecoms product management for some reason.

Whilst I hadn’t gone out looking for a job, one job did catch my eye and set the “Apply! Apply! Apply! alarm bells ringing, so I created my first dusted off my first CV in eight years and clicked send.

Alas they didn’t even want me for an interview, however the rejection email was top notch:

Thank you for taking the time to apply for the position of GBY.40 – Product Mgr IV – IC4. We greatly appreciate your interest in joining Yahoo.

It is our top priority to select a candidate who best matches the skills and experience required to excel in this position. We are impressed with your qualifications but after careful consideration we have decided to pursue other options for this position. Your resume will be kept in our database, and we hope that we have the opportunity to contact you for future positions we feel you are qualified for. Alternatively, feel free to apply for any other position for which match your core skill sets and interests.

We appreciate your interest in Yahoo! and we wish you the best of luck with your job search.

Yahoo! Talent Acquisition

It’s worded so nicely. It’s polite, friendly and encouraging, whilst that bit about being impressed with your qualifications helps let you down gently. You’ve not got anywhere, but they’ve made you feel happier about it. Even that bit at the end says something. “Yahoo! Talent Acquisition”. Brilliant. They’re not just after someone to be a number – they see people as “talent”. The tone of that rejection letter just works.

That email tone is important, because job hunting is, as most people know, an utterly depressing and demoralising process as most people will know. A terse, grumpy rejection doesn’t make you feel good about the potential employer who has just rejected you. That covers, in my limited experience, pretty much 90% of job rejection letters out there.

But get the right tone and people may even end up feeling good when they’ve just got bad news – as can be seen by the fact I’m letting you into my job application failure (posts about applying for jobs is not my normal blog fodder) to praise it.

Now I’m sure it’s just a standard email reply they have – in fact either I’m suffering deja-vu or someone else has written a suspiciously similar blog post about this – but even that doesn’t put me off. Because I feel pretty OK about failure thanks to that email. And how often can you say that?

1 Comment

  • Tracey Smith says:

    Rejection is horrible, doesn’t matter how you cut it or how it’s delivered.
    Best thing to heal it is a cuppa and a bar of Galaxy in my experience.
    Christ my hips are wide…