Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SKY Is Not The Limit

So here I am, up after a gorgeous nap (have to get my beauty sleep in sometime). I'd had a lovely day thus far. Woke up in good spirits in spite of my late night slumber, with a 'go get em' attitude and a whole lot of job applications bookmarked for hard labour during the day.

Now, although I know the ethics of applying for jobs whilst at your current place of work may be somewhat... hmm... questionable, let's say, I do have to point out that the publication with which I work has quite literally just gone to print, meaning we are on the cusp of a PR drought - which will typically only ease a fun two weeks before the next deadline, but this is besides the point. 

In effect, there's not much I could have been doing, and with my seniors knowing full well my intention of departing our buzzing towers of literary genius, and their blessings (there were also tears, rude words and a fun rendition of Phil Collins's 'You'll be in My Heart') in tow, let's just say I wasn't exactly fighting with my conscience over this one. 

Anyway, back to my rude awakening, courtesy of the Sky Talent Resourcing Team.

A couple of days ago I had confidently applied for a job posting with the renowned network for a position as Fashion & Beauty Journalist. I like Sky. I think they are one of the least nonsense ridden, concise and 'true to their nature' networks on television. Which isn't to say I wouldn't work for them if I thought they were as biased as FOX during the American elections in '08, but this was a bonus. Besides, who isn't biased, really? Also, considering the job I was applying for, there was no fear of me getting tangled up in any heated political debate, much less an ill-fitting mascara wand or Paris Hilton's latest substance abuse disaster or whatever the kids are doing these days so, yeah. Sky. 

No. Not Sky. Not this time anyway. This is what they said,

"We really appreciate the time and effort you put into your application, however after due consideration, we're unable to take your application any further in relation to this position.  Unfortunately due to the high number of applications we receive, we are unable to provide feedback on your application."

Ok, so let me get this right. The criteria for the job included:

* Sourcing and originating content, images and video
* Researching and writing content
* Subbing copy and checking for legal issues
* Publishing content onto the site
* Monitoring site statistics
* Keeping on top of the fashion and beauty news
* Dealing with PRs and agents
* Conducting interviews and attending press conferences
* Covering major fashion and beauty events

You get the gist. Potential candidates should ideally possess the following:

* NCTJ or equivalent qualification and educated to degree level.
* Specialist knowledge of entertainment including fashion, beauty entertainment and celebrities.
* Demonstrable experience as a fashion and beauty journalist with Online experience
* Experience of writing for a web audience
* Excellent and accurate English
* Full understanding of MS Internet Explorer & HTML
* Intense interest and love of fashion, beauty, entertainment and celebrity gossip
* Strong instinct and news judgment for the Sky Showbiz audience

Are you all with me so far? Ok. So here I am. I am a media major from one of the top universities in Australia. I have a postgraduate degree in a field that allows me a better understanding of cultural traditions and expectations via the media. Last time I checked, England was a multicultural nation, no? So, for the sake of this argument, let's make this a score on my side of the tally board.

I have been a writer and an editor for an internationally renowned LUXURY LIFESTYLE  publication (ahem, yea, hello Sky? Really? No light bulbs going off for ya?), which has allowed me the pleasure (and sometimes, the horror) of working with some of the most renowned names in fashion (Marc Jacobs, Dior), international couturiers (St├ęphane Rolland) and cosmetic brands alike (Nexus, Clarins, Make Up 4ever). The publication rests in such a comfortable position within its 'counterparts' that we find ourselves spoilt for choice in terms of content, guaranteeing a long list of eager contacts, with which I have built successful working relationships. Oh, and just as an afterthought, I can rattle off the Paris Fashion Week runway line up off the top of my head. Another point on my side of the tally? Don't mind if I do.

I have freelanced and catered for the campaign needs of magnanimous fairs organisers and headed a massive project, that was the first of my duties as deputy editor, putting together a 172 page travel publication for one of the most notoriously picky clients, in under two months. Working under pressure? Tick. Writing for an online audience? Tick. Dealing with PR agents and attending conferences? Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. 

Please let me clarify at this point. I am not bullying Sky's decision. On the contrary. If I felt there had been an injustice (ah, maybe a little one, considering how ridiculously awesome I am) the tone of this post would have been ENTIRELY different. 

My point is this: I am beyond qualified for this position. I understand and wholly appreciate the role extensive experience may play in a decision like this. I, however, am stuck in the purgatory that is the space of time between being considered a 'Graduate/Apprentice' applicant and a 'Young Professional'. What's with all the labels anyway? To be honest, considering the outstanding number of dedicated, creative, little fashionista bloggers, Im not all that surprised. 

What I am, is disappointed.

Frankly, I feel I've been overlooked. I do not count this as an injustice because as the lovely Sky recruitment team noted in their email to me (and as above) they must get outstanding numbers of applications avalanching through daily, therefore logically, replying to every other failed applicant is not an option. Which leaves me at a crossroads. 

Applications take time, applications take tremendous effort and as you would all know, rejection is draining. When (if ever) will I be considered good enough for Sky? Will someone tell me when I am right for them? Will I ever get the feedback I need to understand what it is I am lacking? If I seem such a bloody perfect fit for this particular application on paper, I must be missing something if I did not even get an inquisitive phone call? 

I do not question my capabilities or my ambition. I do not question my inevitable success or my determination. I do not question Sky's professionalism and would still love the chance to work amidst their "culture of opportunity" and to be able to do "the best work of my life". 

But where do I go from here? I am open to your suggestions.

Note: This is a wholly personal expression of experience and is in no way meant to dissuade/influence individuals' decisions to work with Sky. My job hunt is ongoing and this is by no means a white flag. And before any of you smart arses say anything, I am working applications faster and harder than a shearer with a hand piece in a scorching New Zealand summer. And I will continue to do so. 

Ps. I will be moving from the blogspot address soon - too many glitches. Will keep you all posted.


  1. I feel your pain when it comes to the job hunt and all I can say is to keep at it. I've been looking for the better part of a year and the big fish just haven't been taking the bait (neither have the little fish). You do seem to have a fantastic grasp on your capabilities and a terrific ability to convey them. I would venture to say that your inability to secure a new job is less about you and more about the companies themselves. Perhaps you are applying for positions for which the candidate for hire was decided prior to them even advertising. There's also the possibility that the HR people are totally incompetent (it's more prevalent than you'd think). Whatever you do, don't give up. Someone's going to reward your hard work, talent and experience by giving you the job of your dreams. Throw one more dice. I know you can win... ;-)

  2. Sounds like you wrote what you wanted to say to SKY. What you should really say is F*** EM! lol okay maybe not.. but you are talented don't let them get you down. The best way to get revenge is ridiculous success.

  3. It can be a pain when applying for big companies. The amount of applications they get, while an understandable excuse, doesn't make anyone feel better. Feedback is essential when looking for a job. How else are you expected to get better? Anything is better than nothing.

    Usually I would chase up the HR team and get an explanation or something at least. I'm not sure how accessible SKY are. Keep fighting though, this will probably lead on to an even better job!

  4. What's perhaps most remarkable about Sky's reaction is the canned nature from a business who's fundamental purpose is to delivery quality, concise and real reaction to world events - whether they be breaking news, entertainment, sport, etc.

    When a company like Sky respond to applications like this, it seems like a bad PR move on their part.

    The company I work with is far larger then Sky, with a much bigger focus on brand control then any other company I have, or will, ever work with. If you're rejected from a job, you will get a canned response - for the same reasons Sky outline. Except rather then the "sorry, no thanks - no feedback" the response is more along the lines of "keep working hard, you're on our books and we like what you're doing - maybe our paths will cross later and we can work together".

    Sure, it's canned, and sure, it's probably a lie - but it makes you feel good about the brand. The reply from Sky indicates they didn't bother looking at your CV and decided to do a quick cull of applications in order to move on and whittle the job down to easy-to-hire folks. Bad PR, so much so it's now proliferated out there on the web, for Google to see (yeah, I say their name on purpose to attract their robots).

    Having said that, maybe you are on their magical list of future employees, and they want a blog post or online reaction to see if you're worth your salt as a grain in their massive farm.

    As for blogspot - for goodness sake how have you not moved to tumblr or wordpress at this stage? :D

  5. I was the Human Resource Administrator for a major corporation for five years, after that Human Resource Administrator for a major financial company for two years. In that time I obviously conducted many an interview. In Massachusetts it is the law that a business MUST keep an applicant's resume' on file with notes as to what you concluded for a year. One time when I was on vacation the temp that filled in for me passed up an interview, took the application and placed it in the file cabinet. This set off a major law suit that the applicant eventually won. In these tough economic times I think that companies NEED to carefully review each and every applicant instead of (as mentioned above) pass over them. After all they do pay the Human Resource Admin LOTS of money to spend the time reviewing applicant's as well as to promptly respond to any that they may not need with a valid explanation. To be honest, if it were me I would not want to work for this company. If they treat people looking for jobs this way, it makes you wonder how they treat those employed. P.S. It is against federal law in the US to throw an application out, the employer MUST present it for at least a year. Just my two cents :) Rachel

  6. I think you've got to take the higher ground in your mind.

    They've missed out here, not you.

    With your experience and expertise, you're head, shoulders and torso above the applicants that they are targeting with that job description.

    Like you say, you're between a rock and a hard place with regard to the job market. Where you stand in favourable light compared to most is that you actually have EXPERIENCE in the field you want to be in.

    The majority of people I know, fresh out of uni (with excellent qualifications might I add) can't get positions because they 'don't have experience.

    Unfortunately, no organisations are willing to give this elusive experience.

    So, I would say count your blessings.

    Cross Sky off your list and persevere. Some company will gladly have you, and it's the companies that recognise your experience, talent and potential that deserve you. Not those, like Sky, that have failed to spot you in a crowd, let alone the fact that they can't be bothered to grace you with a decent response.

    Don't give up. Keep your head held high...

  7. SKY rejecting you is like when liverpool rejected cristiano ronaldo in '05 (footy analogy!) it was absolutely ridiculous! your a verty talented writer and i enjoy reading your witty posts. someday they will regret not having the privilege of working with you :)
    good luck.

  8. Oh Foxy, how i show no sympathy for you because you evidently have more talent and passion than most people could ever wish for.

    Soon enough you will look back at this painful journey you are going through and pay homage to the hard work and objective articles you have been forced to write in which to receive a response.

    But do not fear my dear; for the machine is watching and will scoop you up and place you on it's conveyor belt of large salaries, delayed public transport, over sized egos and counterfeit designer labels soon enough.

    In the mean time; enjoy firing bullets at Rubert Murdock and his corrupt system, plan your own world domination strategy and prepare for a full on assault.

    Much love to ya


    King Kong

  9. I think the one thing this really highlights is that the HR departments of large organisations often have their own set criteria for shortlisting which often bears no relation to the requirements of the role. In my experience of recruiting we have always been told that if an applicant meets the set criteria we have to consider for interview and if not be very prepared to defend our decision. Simply denting feedback due to volume of response is not acceptable and you would be well within your rights to push the issue. If it was proven that the successful applicant was less qualified for the role than you then there could be a case for discrimination against you. At the very least SKY need to be aware that YOU are aware of this.
    Good luck.
    Their loss!

  10. You seem like a pretty talented individual and as the saying goes, what doesnt kill you can only make you stronger. You say you don't have any problem working for Sky in the future, I'd say that now is the time to go and prove why they should have hired you.

    Ball is in your court now, go prove to them you were the one who got away.

  11. Well, I can safely say that it sucks. Being qualified for a role and not even considered for it, nor given the slightest of feedback is a kick in the teeth and I can see why you are so disappointed.
    Ultimately though, you will succeed. Sadly in this media soaked world it is deemed acceptable not to have to respond. Although equally I have known of many large organisations (as outlined by your Massachusetts commentator) that take time to reply.
    In terms of bridging the gulf (no pun intended), unfortunately its a numbers game. A good solid agent can take a lot of the stress out of the appication process. Otherwise its cherry picking the roles and focussing on them.
    Regardless of the rejection, you will succeed and you know that too, and ambition is more than half the battle. And as for Sky? They don't deserve you!

  12. They probably advertised externally for a job that they'd already filled internally, or with somebody they already knew, as a legal formality of the process. Chances are they didn't read your CV or even open the email.

  13. My two cents.

    I'd say you are going about your job search TOTALLY WRONG. Since when does anyone rely on open job postings to find a job? In my case, only once - my very first proper job. Even my internships in college I found through the elusive yet highly beneficial job search tool called NETWORKING.

    Of course SKY rejected you. This was an open employment application. For major companies and positions in the EU I believe there is a requirement to post an advertisement - especially when hiring a preferred candidate who is not an EU national. Chances are, they already had their preferred candidate lined up and were just going through the motions.

    Did you really want this job? Do you still really want this job? Or are you just moaning and getting traffic onto your blog so that you can have better stats to sell yourself more effectively to the social media world?

    If you really want this job, you would be asking "OK who do I know and what networks can I tap into to get access to the HR folks AND the news / journalism team I want to work for".

    Your setting yourself up as a victim. A victim with good experiences and lots to offer. But a victim sitting on the sofa and not acting in a way to ensure your own job search success.

  14. Thank you all for your messages of support, the advice and some of legalities insight I wasn't actually aware of. Its always beneficial to hear things from an internal POV, particularly to someone who is still considered relatively new to the workforce.

    I'd just like to address the very last comment in the chain.

    Firstly, Im not quite sure what gave you the impression that I was only using open job applications to find the next stepping stone in my career, but I can assure you, this is not the case.

    Secondly, like I said, I am a newbie to the open job app process and wasn't aware of these advertisement laws - now I know better.

    Thirdly, you tell me to network and then you point out my 'selling myself' and 'trafficking' of this post as a bad thing. What if this was my intention all along? What if I was trying to get someone from Sky to read this? Would I not have succeeded in getting their attention? How do you know I haven't already been contacted by someone from their offices?

    Believe me, I wanted this job. And I am working every bloody angle to get through to the target Im after.

    And I respectfully disagree - I am not setting myself up as a victim at all. The intention of this post was not the pillaging of Sky or the arguing of their decision - as i noted in the post itself. On the contrary, I was looking to see what the mass response would have been to a situation like this, and gain some honest advice as to what my next step should be.

    My job search success is inevitable, I have no doubt about that. And I am far from a victim.

  15. My thoughts on the matter were already covered, but I like to be redundant. The candidate in mind was already selected. They were just posting the job as required by their local labor laws. Happy hunting. You'll land your choice job soon.