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The job not taken.

2004-03-05 - 9:53 a.m.

Today I did the insane. I turned down an interview for an editing position. Actually the official title of the position (because every job needs an important title) is Publication Officer*.

Like many journallers, I have always considered myself a writer, whether I was actually writing anything or not. I have never written in an official capacity (i.e. where I was called a writer and actually paid for what I produced), but I have written informally and online for a long time. Every boss Iíve had here at the government (5 in the last 5 years) has been delighted to discover that I had a bit of a flair for it, and Iíve often found myself tapped to write summaries, proof reports, work on communication pieces, etc.

A friend of mine emailed me the link on the last day of the job competition because she thought Iíd be a good fit for it. Applicants had to have a science degree and some experience with scientific publications, as well as editing, plus certain behavioural competencies. I dashed off a cover letter in about 15 minutes and didnít really think much more about it. A mere week later I was invited to sit the initial tests. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the government hiring system, itís normally months before any competitions open to the general public get to the point where they contact candidates. In fact, there are competitions that have to be run more than once because by the time the process has been completed, the candidates have already found work elsewhere. A week to be contacted? And the tests to be written a week later? Almost unheard of.

I went to write the tests. They were fun, because I am a freak that enjoys writing tests. I would pounce on an error with a gleeful mental ĎAh ha!í and wonder how many other people caught that particular one. Me? Competitive? Nooooo. It probably helped that I already have a job, so there wasnít a lot of pressure on me to perform. Nevertheless, I didnít have high expectations. I have always done the bulk of my work electronically and thus have never needed to learn the correct symbols and format for formal editing. Apparently the ability to pick out errors and areas needing clarifying trumped the need to do so with the correct techniques, because of the 51 people who wrote the test ďacross CanadaĒ, I was one of the eighteen they invited to an interview. They would even have paid for my accommodations had I come in from out of town for it.

A job where I get to use my science background, read scientific literature and give free reign to my inner nit-picker to boot? A job where Iíd actually earn some real credentials in the publication industry? It seemed too good to be true. And so it was.

They had only term positions and the longest was for a year. Iím already in a development program that has me changing jobs every year, so Iím looking to find something Iím good at that I enjoy, so I can hunker down in one place for awhile. Since I probably wouldnít accept the job even if it was offered to me, I decided that I shouldnít go any further in the selection process; to do so could rob someone else, someone who doesnít already have a job and really needs one, of a spot on the interview list. There are other ways to hone my interviewing skills that donít cost someone else an opportunity.

I wrote an email declining the interview. I feel like I got a pretty good deal though: I got the ego-stroke of making it through the screening and being the one to turn them down, as well as the feeling of doing the right thing by letting someone else take my place on the interview schedule. The perfect job for me will come along and, until it does, the job I have right now is pretty good and I know that Iím lucky to have it.

* To quote the official job description, ďThe Publication Officer prepares manuscripts for publication in Research Pressí scientific and engineering journals and monographs, performing the various editorial functions in journal production.Ē

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