Bravery, confidence and cake led me to a new job

This blog has been resting, waiting for me to get on and share my news. A clutch of people have kindly asked what’s been going on, where the next post is, and I do have a bank of drafts waiting to go up. But I need to share my big news first.

I had really good fun going on various cooking courses last year, some of which featured here and some of which didn’t. I baked breads, filled tarts, tasted a lot of icing, went gluten free for a night and adorned cakes. All absorbing and unadulterated heaven. One of these courses has led me back to the workplace.

So what’s the story behind the Cooking Class = Job equation?

It’s definitely not the Advert + CV + Job Interview = Job one is it?

There’s a list of ingredients, and here goes with some of them:

Balls – Yeah, a bit masculine but perhaps sometimes we need to be a bit more like the boys eh and just go for it

Skills – Almost 20 years of PR & marketing know-how to share

Confidence – I summoned it up from pretty deep inside, and held on tight

Enthusiasm – Needed oodles of this

Passion – Feeling a genuine love and admiration for what this company does, and all that its team has achieved

Willingness to Learn – Realising how much I have to learn

The story I’m telling here will helpfully show how being really open to opportunities and being very bold can take you places. A few weeks after the course I got an email from the company, saying an agency was holding a focus group on their brand and would I like to go. I jumped at the chance, not least to be on the other side of the table answering rather than asking the questions. So I went along and talked ideas and ate a lot of very delicious cake. It was fascinating hearing from the other 13 people – why did they keep returning to buy the cake, what did the company mean to them? We were sent home with a heavenly box of goodies. Yum. Yum. Yum. My only frustration was having more ideas than there was time to talk about them. I mulled this over and decided to look up who the MD was, and get in touch with them asking if I could come in for a coffee and perhaps share some thoughts. I wasn’t sure I’d hear back, but I did, and along I went. It seemed to go quite well – bearing in mind I had nothing to lose, just an enthusiasm and desire for the company to grow and succeed.

The tone of our informal coffee changed when he said they might be looking for someone to do Marketing and PR.

HELP HELP HELP flashed through my mind, this informal coffee has morphed into a FULL-ON JOB INTERVIEW.

The MD said they’d be in touch when they’d written the job spec, in case I wanted to apply. All I could think was I REALLY REALLY WANT TO WORK HERE.

The job description wasn’t forthcoming, hardly surprising as it’s a small and very busy business and we were in the throes of autumn. I decided I’d have a go at writing it instead, so I did, and sent it over with an apology for being quite so audacious and saying I wouldn’t expect to hear back til after Christmas. Two days later I got an email asking me to pop in and see them again. We had another chat, then an email exchange, followed by a ‘when can you start?’ and so I moved into the world of food; scrummy cakes, beautifully iced biscuits and chocolaty creations.

The two industries have much in common, both revolve around people and their experiences. A publisher’s life is centred around literature and selling books, building lasting relationships with authors, agents, booksellers, librarians, journalists and readers. When it works then authors and agents sign repeat contracts; booksellers, journalists and librarians recommend the books and readers share the buzz amongst their friends and beyond. It’s easy to see the parallels isn’t it? A happy customer who visits a food shop and enjoys the warmth and welcome from the staff and setting, and then gets a rapturous reception for the cake they’ve bought, is going to go back again and again, and the food shop will get the sales it needs and the word of mouth recommendation it relies upon to succeed.

And how’s it going? I am having a ball! Two to three days a week my mind is filled with buttery copy lines, cakes, ideas, biscuits, mailing lists, challenges and a whole new team to get to know – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s not goodbye books as I’ve publishing projects on the go too – but it is hello food.

Applying for a job: acceptance or rejection, negative or positive outcome?

I applied for a job. It’s a very formal process, isn’t it; reviewing and tailoring your CV and sculpting a corking covering letter that really sells your skills and attributes to the role and company. This is my second go, I applied to something else earlier in the summer but the role was withdrawn before interview.

I went for the interview feeling upbeat and positive. I really enjoyed it all, relishing the chat about the trade and talking through campaigns and challenges.

Today I got the email saying sorry, they’d chosen someone else. Instead of feeling rejected – quite a common sentiment this year – I felt very positive. It was extraordinary. I felt a very strong ‘not-right-ness’. I know I have worked with words for years, and that’s not a proper word, but it does sum up the feeling perfectly. I wasn’t right for the position and I wasn’t right for the company – and they clearly felt the same. And do you know what, that’s absolutely fine.

I’d been approached earlier in the day with another possible opportunity, so perhaps I received the later news better as I’d been buoyed up by this, I don’t know.

I remember very clearly the feelings of rejection in the publishing workplace. When we’d bust a gut to put together a pitch, line up in beauty parades or design stunts to win new business – and then for whatever reason the author and their agent decided our offer wasn’t right, the territories were wrong or that they simply preferred a competitor’s team. Although being turned down didn’t get any easier, I did learn that perhaps the particular publishing house and team might not always be the best fit for that book or that author – and as children’s publishing is swings and roundabouts we’d win another pitch another time, and perhaps work with the chosen author on another book. There was always another opportunity around the corner.

So I know that if you or I apply for something, and don’t get it, we need to remember it might just be a case of not-rightness too.

The ten year old footballing son’s reaction to the news? ‘Don’t worry mum you’ll get another job.’ A good lad to have on my team.