Just after graduating university, I had secured a contract for a government role, which was due to be advertised as a permanent position in the next few months. When the application opened, I assumed I'd be a shoo-in. I treated it like any other application I'd made (bar work, mostly), and after submitting my resume and selection criteria application, I eagerly awaited the call for the interview.
Imagine my embarrassment when instead, sitting at my desk (actually doing the role!), the ping of my inbox signaled a standard rejection email:
"Thank you for your interest in the role, but unfortunately, due to the high quality of applicants, your application has been unsuccessful..."
I was humiliated, and also surprised. It was in a regional town, I had the right qualifications having just graduated uni, and, most importantly, I'd been doing a good job (hadn't I?).
A few moments later, my manager called me in to her office. She said she was sorry I hadn't been selected for an interview, but that my application just wasn't up to scratch. She pulled up my application on her screen, and a section of another (successful) application, which she'd de-identified. I realised where I'd gone wrong immediately. My application sucked. She took the time to speak through what was required (my face flaming), and it was a lesson I never forgot.
Although I was devastated, I did get moved into another contract role within the company, and this time when I had the opportunity to apply for the permanent role, I made sure to apply what I'd learnt. This time, I got the "Congratulations, you've been selected for interview..." and the feeling was quite different indeed!
Since that day, I've continued to develop my knowledge regarding what makes a successful resume and application. I've worked for over ten years in roles helping others avoid the mistakes I made.
I know the feeling of humiliation and disappointment that can come from a bad application. I also know the thrill that can come from an excellent one, and the opportunities it can bring.