Monday, November 03, 2008

The Great Slap in the Face

A few months ago, I was in a well of crisis about my career and what my next move should be. I've had a few freelance articles published here and there, and while I really enjoy writing I had never given much serious thought to doing it full-time. Then I heard that Jezebel was looking for a new writer to handle their fashion coverage. What a perfect way to get my foot in the door of online media, to get more experience and to write about a topic that I wanted to learn more about.

I immediately sent out a cover letter and was surprised when I received a response about a week later from Anna Holmes, the managing editor, telling me she was interested in my ideas and wanted to hear more.

So again, I responded, this time with a longer e-mail, complete with bulleted points about how I would expand Jezebel's fashion coverage and how my ideas would gel with the intent of the site.

Then Anna asked me to come and interview for the job.

At this point, about a month had lapsed since I had sent in my cover letter.

So interview I did, and I thought it went pretty well. Anna even asked me to test-blog, which I did, in a seven hour marathon of blogging, and promptly sent her the link.

I didn't hear from her for another three weeks.

Finally, after a few back and forth e-mails, an intern at Gawker e-mailed me asking if I would be available to come in and meet with Noah Robischon and Anna to discuss the job. Elated, I agreed. I met with Noah and Anna about a week later. Anna sat across the table from me, looking pretty worried. Noah asked me questions about how I could make fashion coverage interesting to Jezebel readers, and followed up with other questions that basically revealed he hadn't really spent much time reading my test blog. I left fairly confused but still feeling confident that I could do the job.

Two weeks passed.

Three weeks passed.

I heard nothing. I sent Anna an e-mail, asking what was up. No response.

Then Jezebel posted this, which appeared to indicate that Anna and, most likely, her superiors had chosen to simply promote three contributors to full time staffers rather than hire anyone new. Essentially, that post was how I found out I didn't get the job.

Since then, I have not received an explanation as to what happened, or even an e-mail simply telling me that I didn't get the job. I've had no word whatsoever, and my e-mails have gone unanswered.

Doubtless their decision had to do with the fact that due to the economic recession Gawker had fired about twenty people and wasn't looking to take anyone else on . . . and in the next weeks, Radar would fold, and large numbers of Condé Nast employees would also be let go.

I'm a smart girl and I can take a hint.

That said, it still would have been nice, or rather, maybe the word I'm thinking here is "professional" to have had a response from Jezebel, given that I spent close to three months waiting for them to make a decision.

It's disappointing, because I love Jezebel and I think they're a great blog. I had always considered myself to be one of their biggest fans. But thinking about this entire process which ultimately resulted in absolutely nothing puts a bad taste in my mouth. For a website that promotes women and supposedly encourages women to pursue whatever floats their boat, they surely made me feel like shit under their feet. I suppose I wouldn't want to work for a company that has such disregard for their potential employees, and I can't imagine how their actual staffers are treated.

I had always been a fervent defender of Gawker media. Now I keep my mouth closed when people put the company down and mark off the days to its inevitable extinction.


As for me, I still have a job in book publishing. We're not doing so well, either. People don't exactly have $30 to spend on a hardcover book when they can't pay their rent and the electricity's been turned off. I know, because I've been there. (In fact, I'm still there!) But at least I'm employed, and well on my way to understanding what it means to work for publisher that still has some semblance of respect for its writers and readers, even if that means we don't usually make the big bucks. Let's put it this way. Things can either get better, or they can get worse.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of this bullshit, and I'm ready for a change.


Anonymous said...

what a chicken shit way operate.. not to just say no .. ... you should not have been treated in such a shitty manner... perhaps it is for the best if that is the way they treat people they suck

Anonymous said...

what a chicken shit way to operate.......................etc.

m said...

that really really really sucks. (and while the internet is not necessarily a bastion of professionalism, i've had corporate jobs do that to me after second interviews. you just want to ask wtf is wrong with people.) i'm sorry, you would've knocked their socks off.

kat said...

Having just experienced the same treatment at the hands of NYMag (same massive test-blog, same total silence for weeks and weeks), I am totally empathetic. The worst part of it is having to explain to my horrified parents -- who apparently come from an era where they would inform you, in writing, if you didn't receive a job -- that being left hanging is just par for the course.

Anonymous said...

I really liked Jezebel, and still visit there quite often, but I'm kind of put off by their comment-moderating. It totally flies in the face of their snap-judgement headlines, and even their own writer's posts. I wish you the best, but it seems to me that in order to work for them you have to be one of them.

Bookhouse said...

That is way weak. The walls that have been installed by companies to insulate them, that place all the onus on actually landing a job on the applicant make it ultimately that much harder to foster any sense of ownership or loyalty to one's work. To say nothing of the lack of professional decorum among, well, "professionals".

Snobber said...

thanks guys for all the support. i really appreciate it. it's frustrating that the blogs want to be taken seriously and then they act like two-bit operations. kat, that sucks about nymag, although, like gawker, they do have that rep of never getting back to anybody.

totes agree on the comment moderating.

william, love the use of quotation marks!

thank you again!

Patrisha said...

ugh... unfortunately this is what happens with a lot of smaller media/fashion type companies. They don't have any company-wide HR policies. It is soooo annoying, and I really don't understand why they cannot just alert the job candidate of the decision. I have experienced this at mediabistro, ny mag, ports 1961 and a myriad of others. It is all very discouraging. ick I say! I suppose HR can be helpful.