How to move on when you’re rejected for your dream job…

Just before Christmas I saw my dream role advertised, a position had come up in the communications department of a prominent animal welfare charity. I spent a day overhauling my C.V and crafting the ultimate personable yet professional cover letter. I researched the charity and swotted up on the latest policy and news stories. I sought out the advice of friends who work in the charity sector and I did a bit of sleuthing on LinkedIn to be sure I was targeting my application to the right person. Then I confidently hit send on my application after filling in the lengthy automated recruitment form on their website.

 I followed up at the start of the year as the application deadline passed and patiently waited for a response.

So, when the email came through last week inviting me for an interview, I was really excited. Finally, after over a year of job searching, an opportunity! Hope!

I dutifully did my research and prepped – in a way prepping for an interview during the pandemic is a lot harder than an in-person interview that used to be the norm. Whilst you get to chat from the comfort of your own home this means there are more things to think about than just being presentable, arriving on time and making sure you are prepared; you have to make sure your home is presentable too. Clean, tidy and professional looking, clutter free and perfectly lit!

Not everyone has space for a designated office set up and I opted to create a professional environment in the conservatory, which whilst being absolutely freezing, has the perk of natural lighting that my living room unfortunately doesn’t. It is also usually reserved for plants and this time of year is the designated dumping ground. I turned the side table into a desk, moved the dozen pineapple plants to the side and propped a couple of books on the windowsill just in shot.

I felt fairly confident that I’d given the interview my best shot and whilst it’s difficult to create a connection with interviewers on google teams I enjoyed speaking with them and came away wanting the job desperately. When they told me they’d be in touch by the end of the week, I secretly envisaged a weekend of lockdown celebrating… it all felt just within reach!

I began to picture myself in the role, how happy I would be in such a gratifying position, working at my favourite charity where my ideas would help animals. I envisaged a role I could grow into, a company I would work at for years to come. I excitedly mentioned the interview to my closest friends and family and spent the rest of the week sat by my phone hoping for a positive phone call and frantically refreshing my email for news… and then on Friday it came… the email I had been dreading.

Photo by Luriko Yamaguchi on Pexels.com

I quickly skim-read as the words ‘unfortunately’ and ‘not’ struck out like sharp pangs straight to the heart. Just like that, my bubble had burst, I was rejected from my dream role a mere three days after the interview, there were simply other candidates better suited…

It’s a common tale so, here’s what to do next.

Ugly Cry / Let it all out /Declare the end of the world:

I re-read the email a couple of times and then began to cry hysterically. It is so rare to see in-house media roles advertised in the current climate, let alone to get to interview stage with the competition due to high unemployment. I felt like I’d completely failed at the final hurdle, and even worse I may never get an opportunity like this again! I started panicking again about my financial situation and felt everyone was more skilled than me, I slumped into a big depressive hole and couldn’t see myself ever feeling hopeful again.

It’s normal to wallow, just keep this stage short! Eat a sharing bar of chocolate to yourself, have a three-hour bath, get in bed at 6pm and sleep until noon the next day. Moan that life is over, feel you have failed and never again will you get an opportunity like this, sing Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’ loudly and melancholically but then preferably within 24 hours… move on!

Seek the comfort of loved ones

You’ve likely spoken to a few people about how excited you were about this opportunity and now feel embarrassed to admit you have been rejected but you’ll need your support network to get over it and rebuild your confidence.

I told my friends and my Mum and they told me to keep my chin up, my mother-in-law gave me a brilliant pep talk and told me that I should be proud I’d gotten to interview stage in the current tough environment.

My husband bought me flowers, two big bars of my favourite chocolate and a bottle of Pinot Grigio (I know he’s a keeper that’s why I married him!) and the next night he made home-made pizzas and as I’d finally stopped crying, we cracked open the wine and watched The Masked Singer and after a day of wallowing I distracted myself watching Sir Lenny Henry sing and dance around as a blobby masked monster.

Accept it and move on! Onwards and upwards

Now is the time to dry your tears, stop going on about it and form a plan for the future. Firstly, be sure to reply politely and professionally to the rejection email once you’ve composed yourself and gotten over the initial upset. You may receive helpful feedback that will put you in a stronger position for the next opportunity. If you’ve been able to build a bit of rapport you could also ask the interviewer or HR representative to connect on LinkedIn widening your network and meaning you may see future vacancies immediately when they are posted.

Use this experience to learn and widen your network, rejection is tough especially in the current climate but after a weekend of consolation, be sure to continue with your job hunt. You never know what is around the corner.

I’ve started researching similar charities and registered for job alerts at them all, what I have learnt by how disappointed I felt is that this really is a career path I’d like to go into and the emotional reaction I had to the rejection proved that I am passionate and so the hunt continues! Wish me luck!

Indulge yourself with espresso martini brownies

Espresso Martini Brownies

Move over Mary Berry! Despite being a lover of the British Bake Off (50% swooning over cakes and 50% swooning over Noel Fielding) I am no baker. I’m too lazy and always opt for shop bought which not only saves on time but more importantly saves the washing up!

However, I have taken to trying to cook a few new things over lockdown since having so much time on my hands and trying to cut down on non-essential shop trips. Last year I, like the rest of Britain made my very first banana bread. I even tried a little twist on the classic, adding chocolate chips, (everything can be improved with chocolate chips.) I also did a simple chocolate sponge for my Husband’s birthday and since I bought the sugar and flour I’ve been looking for my next sweet treat to compile. I spied this brilliant recipe over at BBC Goodfood, it was super easy and combines all my favourite things, choccy, coffee and booze! The perfect excuse to break my Dry January, yet again.

Get the recipe at BBC Good Food.

Alan… Not Turing In His Grave! Blitz Kids & Brit Power.

Is modern drag moving away from misogyny? – RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2 – Ep 1 Review

Scrolling through Twitter this week I noticed Alan Turing was trending, which intrigued me straight into a worm hole. As I dug deeper, I became sucked into the latest twitter storm as people took offence to a tribute on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, season two of which kicked off on the BBC last Thursday.

I must confess I have a problematic relationship with drag. Whilst I love the idea of challenging gender stereotypes, the celebration of queerness and the creativity and humour that comes from the drag scene, I have for a long-time worried about the flippant air of misogyny within drag culture.

Portrayal of queens as bitchy, catty and sometimes dumb for comic effect does little for feminism, that combined with lingo that actually attacks women such as ‘Fishy’ has put me off watching Drag Race in the past. I found it very hard to stomach the US version and avoided the UK version when it debuted last year.

How some gay men frequently get away with dismissive misogyny is probably a bigger topic for another time but I can recall quite a few first-hand experiences where I have been ridiculed by gay men for being a woman.

I recall once having to take a detour to Boots ahead of arriving at Friday work drinks where I was asked by a gay male colleague if I had been buying ‘more lipstick’, when I quietly admitted I actually needed to urgently grab sanitary towels because I had just come on, my colleague announced to the entire office filled pub that I had got my period and taunted me with grossed out gagging noises and shrieks of ‘Urgh gross!!! How disgusting’.

I’ve also been referred to as ‘that bitch’ (pre Lizzo reclaiming) on many occasions and vividly remember another post-work drinks evening with a table full of male colleagues, two of which were gay, the rest heterosexual and myself as the only female when my manager (a gay man) described the one sexual experience he had had with a woman as like “licking cottage cheese out of a wound”. As the only owner of a vagina at the table all the men looked at me and laughed, yet again being a woman, I was the (front) butt of the office joke. Yet I digress, this is probably a wider topic, touches on the lack of female representation in the music industry and maybe for another time…

For those interested in wider reading Jamie Tabberer wrote a really great piece in The Independent about misogyny in drag and Julie Bindel wrote a great piece specifically about the Divine documentary.

However, seeing the Alan Turing conversation unfold on Twitter I was intrigued and having plenty of time for telly on my hands at the moment I dove into episode one. Disregarding comments about ‘saggy tits’, ‘bitches’ and a Queen calling herself ‘A’Whora’ the whole she-bang was pretty entertaining.

Stuck inside in my lockdown uniform of scruffy leggings I realised just how desperate I was for some glamour and escapism. Light-hearted entertainment is in short supply right now and distraction from the ongoing pandemic was much needed. I was excited to see cabaret star Joe Black as a contestant…. of course, it was typical that he was booted out in the very first episode.

I’ve long been a casual fan of Joe Black since I was an alternative teen skulking about on Myspace circa 2007.  The Brighton artist started on the platform sharing gothic tracks played on the accordion and quickly became a much-loved figure in the Burlesque and Alternative scenes, a sort of strange vaudeville cross between Patrick Wolf, Dita Von Teese and The Urban Voodoo Machine.  

The runway challenge celebrated British gay icons in honour of 2020 marking 50 years of Pride (the British branch of the Gay Liberation Front first formed in London in 1970) and the dramatic and creative costumes were brilliant.

It was drag queen Tia Kofi that used this brief to create a colourful tribute to mathematician Alan Turing who cracked the Enigma code that helped end World War Two, and was devastatingly persecuted for being gay, chemically castrated and forced to suicide. He received a posthumous pardon from the Queen in 2013 (ironically the same monarch that ruled over the country when he was subjected to such atrocious treatment in the ‘50s’.) The tribute was a stark reminder of how recently LGB rights have come about, with sexual activity between men not decriminalised until 1967. Same-sex marriage wasn’t legalised in England, Wales and Scotland until 2014 and only in Northern Ireland last year in 2020!

In wearing a binary print suit where the coding spelled out ‘love’ Kofi provided a very fitting reminder of the LBGTQ+ message of the show and was a bit more creative than the two Naomi Campbell looks. I think the naysayers on Twitter who were negative about the tribute completely missed the point of the look and its wider meaning. It’s also great to see a drag act using their platform to educate and inform a younger audience who may not be aware of Turing’s story.

Joe Black dressed as Life on Mars era David Bowie which despite his iconic teal suit and flame coloured hair Michelle Visage outrageously described as not distinctive enough. It clearly couldn’t have been more Bowie! It was also a fitting tribute to Gay icon Jessica Lange who performed in a similar outfit in Ryan Murphy’s wonderfully camp but twisted American Horror Story…

It was a RU-thless elimination which saw Joe Black the first to ‘sashay away’ but in his defence his opponent Bimini Bon Boulash seemed deserving enough stating earlier in the episode ‘You don’t have to be shady’ and right before the lipsync “I’m just gonna give it a bloody go. I’ve worked my arse off to get here” so I’ve got a bit of time for her fighting spirit and positive attitude.

She also dressed as underground fashion icon Princess Julia (with Michelle Visage marking her down simply because she was unfamiliar with the DJ and fashion icon!) Boulash also saved her spot in the competition by performing a handstand in a thong which must require all sorts of tape wizardry.

Overall, I feel like the UK version of Drag Race is much more my cup of tea, there seems to be less outright misogyny and more familiar references and British humour which I’m enjoying. It was great to see lots of alternative culture in this first episode too, with a lot of references to 80’s New Wave British Blitz Kids club culture. As well as Princess Julia and David Bowie other queens recreated looks such as Boy George and Vivienne Westwood.

We need all the entertainment we can get right now so a bit of comedy and escapism in these troubling times is a delight. I’ll be tuning in next week, just hoping there’s no derogatory references to fishy fannies. Let’s hope the misogyny has been weeded out for a more celebratory, less misogynistic modern drag culture.

Welcome to Girl Afraid

My first ever blog post!

Hello and welcome to Girl Afraid!

A new culture blog from me a millennial woman (not womxn, at least until the word mxn is circulated widely!) with too much time on her hands and too many thoughts.

Needing to find new ways to entertain myself in between my part-time day job and my current lack of a social life, here I will be sharing thoughts and opinions all of which are my own.

Sick and tired of the polarising, extreme and often negative opinions in mainstream media and desperate for a hobby after finding myself in yet another national lockdown and woefully underemployed I have taken to blogging….

Whilst I know blogging expired in coolness around 2012, with the pubs closed I need somewhere to spout my verbal diarrhoea and I hope some people out there may enjoy reading it.

Love

Girl Afraid

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