Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Job application feedback from the BBC

I finally have some good news on the job hunt. The BBC have sent me some feedback on not just my most recent applications but on all those that I've made over to the organisation over the last couple of years, a dozen or so in total. On the downside it took an application under the 1998 Data Protection Act to secure it; a little excessive, perhaps, but endless rejections (over 130 since July 2010) have a tendency to bring the more militant out in people. To the BBC's credit they decided to waive the £10 fee, although I'm not entirely sure why.

The feedback itself isn't particularly detailed; it's essentially a list of the scores that were awarded to each of my answers. I was hoping for some annotated comments or some objective marking but it's entirely plausible that for an organisation which receives so many applications these scores are the only notes that are made for each candidate. This of course begs the question as to how we are to know that  the same criteria are being applied to each candidate and that each is being assessed fairly and equally, but I guess I - as well as every other person applying to Auntie - will never know.

On a personal level the results still make for interesting reading. On a scale from 1 to 5 (with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best) I rank a decidely lacklustre average of between 2 and 3 for each answer provided; likewise, I failed to secure a single 4 or 5. It still strikes me as strange that the only formal interview I ever secured with the Beeb was a couple of years before I completed a postgraduate journalism qualification, but I guess the competition is simply getting stronger and £5,000 courses are pretty much two-a-penny these days. Gosh, I'd love to get my hands on some of the successful application forms and see where I've been going wrong.

What I have learned, however, is that the world of recruitment is shrouded in secrecy and that this is true for both the private and public sectors. People who meet all the criteria listed in a job description are routinely and casually turned away without explanation; gurus talk of the need for 'networking' when in any other walk of life such activities would be rightly classed as nepotism; where the number of rejections is matched only by the number of employers that don't bother to acknowledge applications; and where the almost complete lack of feedback or any other form of transparency means that applicants can only guess where they went wrong and then proceed to make the same mistakes all over again.

Indeed, in a society where we're starting to question - nay demand - this very same transparency in government and in our politicians it's amazing that there is so little desire for change when it comes to our jobs. Perhaps we're all scared that by asking too many questions we'll scupper any chances of securing an interview. It's a really sad state of affairs and it's one that I believe needs addressing. Urgently.

As for the BBC, it's hard to understand quite why they were so reluctant to acquiesce with my original request when the data that they were obliged to provide me with by law contains absolutely nothing that could threaten to derail their recruitment process. Their Kafkaesque objections that this might provide an unfair advantage have proven entirely unfounded.

I'll still keep plugging away and who knows, perhaps one day I'll even score myself a 4 or even a 5 and prove that I really do have a reasonable grasp of 'content awareness' or 'knowledge of diverse communities'. I know that the BBC is by far the most desirable media organisation to work for in the UK today - despite the failings of the Delivering Quality First initiative that has done so much to retain the livelihoods of bureaucratic management on 6-figure salaries at the expense of those who actually make programmes - and that it's worthy of my professaional aspirations, as it has been for over a decade. The organisation is a bastion of quality impartial journalism and provides essential services for people not just here in the United Kingdom but acrosss the entire globe. Our lives would simply be all the poorer if it did not exist.

Now let's just hope I haven't annoyed them too much by asking too many questions...

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I’m off to Transnistria..!

Back in August I bemoaned my distinct lack of success in securing any of the numerous travel bursaries I have a habit of applying for; indeed, in the last week alone I've received rejections from both the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and the Peter Kirk European Travel Scholarships fund. Needless to say these awards are extremely competitive and I guess I shouldn't really be downhearted.

Yet things might finally be starting to turn around. I've just found out that I'm one of the lucky winners of Wanderlust's brilliant 25 Trips for Under £250, a competition which invites proposals for a budget adventure starting and ending in the UK. Those deemed the most imaginative will have their trip paid for and - perhaps even better - there'll be the opportunity for the journey to feature in an issue of the magazine next year.

My idea is to visit Transnistria, a small de facto but internationally unrecognised state on Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine. Transnistria is chiefly famous for existing as if the Soviet Union never disappeared, with Hammer and Sickle emblems and public monuments to communist heroes aplenty. It should make for a fascinating visit.

I'm not going until January - I'll be flying to Bucharest the day after attending The Outdoors Show - but I'm already really looking forward to it. No doubt you'll hear all about it when I get back..!