To all applicants for our publishing job (except one): sorry

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Posted Feb 16 2015 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org
book covers Some of our publications

We had 53 applicants for this job, and I have to say that (almost) all of them were absolutely bloody brilliant. The applications represented an embarrassment of riches for us, which means that I’m embarrassed (and sad) to say ‘no’ to all but one of them. And that’s the problem. Ultimately we’ll say ‘yes’ to one person, and ‘no’ to 52 people, which is a bit depressing. So what I’d like to say to those 52 people is: sorry – please don’t think it was anything to do with the quality of your application, because it almost definitely wasn’t.

When the first ones started to arrive, they were beautifully written, accompanied by impressive CVs, peppered with PhDs, hundreds of years experience in the publishing industry (in total, you understand), articles in national newspapers and magazines and thought-provoking ideas. But they just kept coming, and they were almost all of a similar quality.

Now here’s my theory. In our field – what shall we call it? The ‘alternative’ (sadly), environmental, ‘green’, non-corporate, non-materialistic, co-operative, realistic, intelligent field? Yes, that will do. In that field, there are lots of extremely talented, yet underutilised people – and the reason is that they refuse to work for corporations (or they used to work for corporations until they began to lose the will to live). Of course this is great news for us, because it means that there’s an ocean of talent out there for us and others like us to poach from (I know you don’t poach from an ocean, but you know what I mean).

It doesn’t feel quite right to make people of such high quality compete with each other for work somehow. But what else could we do? It’s not right to offer work to people we meet and like without advertising it to other people too (although I admit that we have been guilty of that in the past). I don’t think that many of the applicants are going to find it too difficult to obtain gainful and useful employment though, and that’s some consolation.

But we had to narrow down the candidates somehow. As the job involves mainly writing, proof-reading and editing, we rejected applications containing typos, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors – but after that it was quite difficult to separate people. In the end we wrote up a list of criteria – experience, quality of writing, ideas etc. and scored each application out of ten for each criterion. We got down to a final ten this way, then we did it again, but in more detail. We got down to five, but couldn’t get any further, so we decided to interview five people instead of three.

So to all of you (except one) – sorry, but we hope we’ll get the opportunity to work with some of you in future. there will be more work coming up later in the year, and actually, there is more work available now – helping to build the network; it’s ad hoc, flexible and can help top up your income. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you more details. That goes for anyone else reading this too.