Graduate Blog

Knowing when to say ‘no’ . . .


To a potential employer is something I never thought I would experience. Trawling through job applications and CV redrafts – for the umpteenth time – it never occurred to me that the jobs I had applied too weren’t suited for me. After all, it would be daft to apply for a job I didn’t want – so here’s the story of my experience.

In all honesty I was pretty confident (and rather pleased with myself) when I was offered an interview for a sales position with a well-known cosmetic brand. I did my research and knew what to expect – what could possibly go wrong? Well, I was turned away for being ten minutes early for a start – I had to wonder off dejectedly and for seven minutes I watched the seconds tick into minutes. When I returned, there were five other girls being interviewed with me. All gorgeous, make-up all perfect – and then me, who had gone for the ‘natural’ look that by midmorning was beginning to slide off. The first thing that made me uncomfortable – as I’m sure it would anybody – was that some of the girls knew each other and some even knew the interviewers. Already, I felt slightly out of place.

We were crammed into a room barely fit to be considered anything more than a cupboard it was that small and showed a role playing exercise. I am not known for my acting skills and I’m a terrible liar (I will get the latter part of that sentence in a moment!). I forgot everything as soon as I stood up. Then we were bombarded with products, ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and how to apply them. We practised on each other – and here’s the aspect of lying – I really thought I looked worse for wear after the makeup had been applied. I had a serious case of cake-face and two red splodges on my cheeks. My point is if I were to sit and have my make-up done, I’d want that person to be a professional with at least some training in make-up artistry. I wouldn’t have bought anything based on what I saw in the mirror, so I wasn’t exactly buzzing with excitement at the prospect of going onto the shop floor for four hours and applying it to customers. I did one lap of the huge department store thinking to myself I can’t do this, Charlotte you really can’t do this – you don’t even like touching people’s faces! Four hours later? I was long gone. I lasted four minutes!

I left the interview and obviously forfeited a potential position for myself. I did not, do not and will never regret my decision to leave. It was a powerful experience to realise that not every job you apply to will be perfect for you – it doesn’t mean to say a similar position somewhere else wouldn’t be great for you. The position I was interviewed for was a sales position that wasn’t for me, but now I’m in a similar position at a different job and I really enjoy it!

After graduating the pressure really does mount on top of you to find a job. However, it’s alright to say ‘no’ to something you don’t want to do. In fact, it shows people that you know yourself well enough to put your hands up and say ‘thank you for the opportunity, but I  know I’m not what you’re looking for’.  It’s about knowing yourself, what you want and what you don’t want.

About the Author

Charlotte Olive Charlotte Olive

Hi, I'm Charlotte and I'm a graduate from The University of Huddersfield. I studied English with Creative Writing, specialising my dissertation research in Child Language Acquisition. Although I don't have a solid idea of what career I am going to take, I know I definately want to work with children and young people, with the aim to teach, entertain, help or inspire in anyway I can.

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