I opened my email this morning to find yet another rejection from a graduate scheme I applied for. This one upset me a bit. I have friends who have already secured jobs or places on masters courses, friends who have interviews on a weekly basis and all I’m getting is emails where one word stands out like a burning flame…

It’s not because I haven’t put effort into my applications. After researching the role and finding out what type of skills the company wants from candidates, I tailor my CV and cover letter for each scheme I apply to and get it checked by the university careers service before sending it off, excited to find out the reply and if I’ll be invited to head office for an interview.

I’ve done many of the online tests that employers do these days, numerical, verbal reasoning, personality and situational judgement. The latter is by far the worst, yet the other three are equally as terrifying for an introvert 不温不火 languages student who hasn’t used a scientific calculator since 2010.

The situational judgement online test poses a situation in the workplace and out of a list of four options, you have to choose what would be the most and least effective solution in each case. There is usually one which stands out to me by a mile as the least effective, yet the other options all seem feasible, depending on one’s character and how you deal with confrontations or problem solving.

In a way, it’s like those personality quizzes in teenage magazines. You have to choose your answers, A, B, C or D and then add up the amount of each letter at the end and see which member of Blue is your perfect boyfriend or something. You know the type, but for those of you who don’t, it looks something like this.

14 points – I’m “all booked up” – actually quite accurate

Yet when I did those questions at 11 years old (and even this example above), my answers were never coherent with one type, I’d always get 3 A’s and 3 C’s, meaning that both Simon and Lee would be perfect boyfriends for me. With the online exam, I feel that I probably sit on the edge between two categories and maybe they don’t want to employ somebody who has multiple traits and different judgements in different situations. I don’t think I’ll ever pass this type of exam because I see many ways to handle a situation and sometimes two different methods may render the similar results. Also, the practice exams that are on the internet have no correct answers to study and learn!

I also have taken a personality test which was scary. It listed hundreds of characteristics and personality traits and I had to choose how this described me on a scale of extremely unlike me to extremely like me. Honestly, I think there is no point/merit in the numerical and verbal reasoning exams and much less in a personality test. Surely the correct answers must make some computer generated perfect employee and candidates who are most like this get through to the next round, but surely all of those people will have very similar personalities and methods of thinking. And for me, that doesn’t represent a diverse working environment if everybody has the same personality and reacts to situations in the same way.

I’m still undecided as to what type of career I want, sometimes I find stalk people on LinkedIn and get very excited about their job, but getting from where I am now to where they are is a hazy road and not many people reply to emails titles “Career advice”. People I meet tell me how I must have such a great exciting career ahead of me and how employable or skillful I am, but I just can’t see it right now with all of these rejections.

Just two days ago, I was Skyping a dear friend of mine and we were talking in analogies, he said he felt like he was running a marathon but wasn’t sure where the finish line was, or if it even existed. He asked me, if he’s tired, with no energy, how can he possibly carry on to reach the finish line?  I told him that it’s time to keep running, that along the way on marathons there are stations with water and food to keep your spirits and energy levels up, something will come along to provide a boost. I didn’t think that so soon after giving this advice I would be using it myself.

Even though I’ve never run this marathon before, there surely is a goal waiting and that sensation and joy of crossing the finish line. When that goal materialises, I can sprint to the finish line and get that rush. Until then, I just have to keep running; although now I feel I have no energy, I must persist as there will be another rest station along the way, as well as all the spectators that cheer, hold banners and shout my name.


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