I recently applied for an editing job at work. I figured I had a good level of experience, having edited scripts for film and theatre throughout my masters and professionally, and getting really good feedback on my editing skills from tutors and peers alike.
I have been working for the company for eight months, which may not sound like a long time, but where I work they are huge on in house promotion. They recruit in teams, and then after your probation you are able to apply for any position you want.
I felt the interview went well, I have been working on my confidence recently and managed to hold it together without blushing or having a panic attack, which is a huge milestone for me. I was confident and answered the questions to the best of my ability.
After the interview I had to do an editing test, which I felt very confident, but after the whole experience was over I just felt something wasn’t quite right and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not necessarily in my performance, but in the vibe afterwards. During the interview I had a great rapport with my interviewers and felt like I impressed them with my previous ability and experience, as well as things I have achieved whilst being at the company, to the tune of ‘Wow. Very impressive!’ and ‘That sounds great’. And yet there was something niggling me.
A week later I got a call saying that on this occasion they had opted to go with another candidate, “fair enough” I thought to myself, you win some you lose some, I was a bit gutted as I would expect anyone to be but then they went onto the reasoning behind this. The recruiter said:
“I’ve got some feedback here for you, and they thought that you’re too creative. They suggested that perhaps you should look at opportunities in the marketing department where your creativity can run free. You interviewed really well and impressed them, but that’s what they said.”
I can’t say I was prepared for that as a reason why I didn’t get a job that I deem to be creative. I have since searched the internet to try and find an article like ‘what does ‘being too creative’ mean’, surely that has to be interview code for unreliable/ditsy/wishy washy/forgetful/in the midst of an existential crisis…. but I found nothing. The only articles I found were ‘How to be more creative’, ‘How to tell if you’re creative or not’ or ‘Do you have these 11 creative traits?’ and it got me thinking.
Creativity is a desired attribute. People want to be creative, perhaps it has some kind of romanticism to it. I always joke about the ‘tortured writer aesthetic’, or that all musicians are ‘misunderstood’, many of my friends being creatives themselves recognise this association in people’s minds when you introduce yourself as a writer/musician/dancer/actor.
To non creatives you either fit into the ‘creative aesthetic box’ or not. Which will either get, more or less, two responses :
“I’m a writer.”
“I’m a writer”
Perhaps being a creative is seen as being uber cool, living a tortured existence and being misunderstood by the masses, frustrated that nobody can connect with your creative vision. All of these things seem highly intriguing as characteristics, but ultimately impractical in the conventional work place. They are to be admired from afar with a ‘good for you’ attitude, but never a serious option for the position you have going in your office.
Aren’t they too volatile? They’re all arrogant. They’ve never worked a hard day in their lives. They expect so much for so little effort. I started out with nothing and worked hard for everything I have, they’re too lazy to do the same.
Ring any bells? This is the problem we are facing at the moment with young people finding fulfilling work. We aren’t lazy, a lot of young people go into higher education which is a great opportunity and also a great deal of hard work, only to come out into a crashed jobs market where everyone has a degree, therefore equivalent to no one having one. Jobs opportunities have more applicants than they are prepared for and therefore can ask the earth from their candidates for as little money as possible, because we all are desperate for work.
I was not expecting to get this job handed to me, I was expecting other people with great experience to apply, I was expecting it to be competitive and difficult. I was not expecting to be turned away from an entry level position that my degree and a masters degree are relevant to, because I was deemed too creative.
To me, being creative is something to be celebrated, something I pride myself on. Being called ‘too creative’ for a position has only fuelled my creative energy and reminded me what path I want to be on.
To all my fellow creatives out there, keep being fabulous, writing stories, making music, acting the part, slaying those outfits and keeping positive. Our time is yet to come.