The Publishing Post
Reacting to Rejection: Hopeful’s Edition
Whether we want to or not, dealing with rejection is something we all have to face in life – especially when it comes to job hunting. Rejections can be tough and extremely demoralising, and it often helps to talk things through with other people who might be going through similar experiences to know you are not the only one.
For this issue, we spoke with hopefuls Pippa Newton and Vanessa Wheeler about their job hunt and how they handle rejection. Pippa is hoping to work in editorial, while Vanessa has recently landed her first publishing role as an Assistant Production Editor.
Both have been dealing with prolonged job searches – Pippa has been looking for publishing work experience since 2017 when she started university, but she has started to search for official roles after having completed her degree in June.
Before Vanessa landed her new role, she had spent roughly a month and a half of being unemployed and job hunting. “I applied to 102 jobs in total (not all in publishing) and only made it to the next round for 17, of which only 2 were in publishing!”
Rather than trying to avoid rejection, we should learn how to handle it. In order to do this better, Vanessa says that before applying for a role she assumes that she will be rejected or ‘ghosted’, meaning anything else is a pleasant surprise. “It only takes one ‘yes’ to get your foot in the door.”
Having only reached an interview stage once, Pippa is very familiar with rejection emails offering little or no feedback. “I originally took rejection quite hard. I found it very demotivating and they made me feel deflated and unwanted.” Eventually, as she received more rejections, the less they bothered her.
Job hunting in publishing is hard at the best of times, and the current climate brings about a brand new set of hurdles. To Pippa, the biggest hurdle she’s had to overcome is her own insecurities. Despite the hopeful’s community being a very friendly and welcoming one, she finds it hard to accept that with every application, she’s competing against over a thousand others. “I know I am unique and just as deserving as other applicants,” but the odds are very tough.
Vanessa’s biggest struggle was not only being ‘ghosted’ by companies, but also being rejected at the interview stage for not having enough experience. “I worked part-time at uni, completed work placements, and spent every summer doing internships – how much more experience can an entry-level candidate be expected to have?”
COVID-19 has also had a huge impact on many hopefuls’ job search. “I guess the biggest impact was I had more time to dedicate to [my job hunt],” says Pippa. She was able to fully research and plan for applications, as well as try and find new projects to keep herself busy whilst learning new transferable skills.
Vanessa notes that her job search was made a lot tougher by the growth in competition for entry-level roles, which made standing out in cover letters much more difficult.
When asked what they would say to a publisher/recruiter, Vanessa would ask, “Which matters the most: skills, experience, or attitude?”
On the other hand, Pippa would ask to make more work experience opportunities available.
“There are so many passionate and hard-working people out there who just want some experience so they can work their socks off and learn as much as possible.”
Living in a digital age, our online presence is becoming more and more important in securing roles and networking. Pippa has found platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn very helpful throughout her job search, with people sharing cover letter tips and growing her network. “I think these platforms create a lovely sense of community which is what everyone needs right about now.”
“I became slightly addicted to scrolling through LinkedIn during my job hunt because it feels productive, but it’s not,” says Vanessa. She also found LinkedIn much more valuable for roles in other industries, as publishing applications are mostly standardised.
Finally, we wanted to know what advice they would give to other job-seeking hopefuls. “Your job (or lack of) is not a measure of your self-worth,” Vanessa states. “Don’t let your job search tamper with your inner peace, your self-belief and your trust in your abilities.”
Similarly, Pippa advises that whilst perseverance is everything, don’t forget to take breaks. “You’re the only person in this world fully committed to looking after you, so take days off. Never underestimate the healing power of a PJ day.”
Job hunting right now is extremely tough, but please know that you are not alone! Every rejection brings you closer to your dream role, so keep going.
Thank you to Vanessa and Pippa for sharing their experiences. You can connect with both through their socials below: