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A vo­cal mi­nor­ity of well-con­nected em­ploy­ees at my com­pany are ac­tively cam­paign­ing against my brand ad­ver­tis­ing in tabloid news­pa­pers. I don’t agree with their logic but their cam­paign has be­come a dis­trac­tion and has made a neg­a­tive im­pact on my rep­u­ta­tion within the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Do you think I should just bow to the pres­sure? I keep think­ing that this ques­tion must have been ly­ing at the bot­tom of my in-tray since 1937. And then I re­mem­ber that I didn’t have an in­tray in 1937. But I still can’t rec­on­cile the pic­ture that your ques­tion con­jures up with any­thing that’s hap­pened since 1937.

Th­ese well-con­nected em­ploy­ees of yours: to whom, ex­actly, are they con­nected? To hered­i­tary peers, per­haps, or lesser mem­bers of the royal fam­ily?

And pre­sum­ably they fear that tabloid news­pa­pers – or “the gut­ter press”, as they doubt­less call them – have a morally cor­ro­sive ef­fect on the lower classes, which is why they’ve banned them from their ser­vants’ quar­ters?

I agree it doesn’t seem in the least bit likely but it’s the best I can do.

Oth­er­wise, I don’t un­der­stand what th­ese well-con­nected em­ploy­ees are bang­ing on about and why you don’t just tell them to shut up.

If they were all non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors, ap­pointed for purely dec­o­ra­tive rea­sons and writ­ing in from Rut­land, I could just about sym­pa­thise; but they’re not. Dear Jeremy, I have had a series of (what I thought were) great job in­ter­views but keep get­ting re­jected. Each time, the com­pany has told me I was one of two or three fi­nal can­di­dates. What am I do­ing wrong and how can I be­come a num­ber-one choice? You may not be do­ing any­thing wrong. First, some maths. Let’s say that for ev­ery de­sir­able job, there are 10 qual­i­fied ap­pli­cants. So you need to be turned down by at least nine be­fore you be­gin to feel ag­grieved. Sec­ond, truth: com­pa­nies don’t tell it. For com­pas­sion­ate rea­sons, com­pa­nies rou­tinely lie when giv­ing feed­back to failed can­di­dates. Rather than re­veal that one of the in­ter­view­ers thought your en­thu­si­asm for the job was verg­ing on the pervy, they’ll tell you that you were very close.

When you’ve failed on seven con­sec­u­tive oc­ca­sions, you’re bound to think it’s for the same rea­son. But the chances are you’ve just been up against seven dif­fer­ent peo­ple who caught the com­pany’s eye for seven dif­fer­ent rea­sons. If you think you’re do­ing some­thing wrong and, with­out know­ing what it is, set out to cor­rect it, then you’ll cer­tainly end up do­ing some­thing wrong.

The worst prepa­ra­tion for an in­ter­view is to imag­ine that you’re go­ing for the last one. No. The word fash­ion­able im­plies tran­sience. If some­thing ap­pears to be last­ingly fash­ion­able, it stops be­ing fash­ion­able and be­comes a clas­sic. The mind­less em­brac­ing of new plat­forms was in­deed a fash­ion and, like many fash­ions, is be­gin­ning to look quaint. By con­trast, to re­assert the value of tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing me­dia, which long ago earned clas­sic sta­tus, is noth­ing other than a timely re­turn to com­mon sense. Do you think the an­swer to solv­ing the tal­ent drain in the in­dus­try is sim­ply to pay more money or do you think it’s still suf­fi­ciently fun and re­ward­ing enough to stop our bright­est and best run­ning off to Face­book and Google? I’m not clear what peo­ple work­ing for Face­book and Google ac­tu­ally do. But if they’re pre­sented with an in­fi­nite series of dif­fer­ent chal­lenges, which only the hu­man mind can solve; if they’re ex­pected to un­der­stand in­sur­ance on Mon­day, Saga on Tues­day, lager on Wed­nes­day and burg­ers on Thurs­day; if ev­ery­thing about hu­man na­ture, gos­sip col­umns and the econ­omy is of pro­fes­sional in­ter­est to them; if win­ning and los­ing are sear­ing al­ter­na­tives in any nor­mal week: if that’s what work­ing for Face­book and Google is like, then I wouldn’t dream of try­ing to dis­suade any­one from work­ing there. But I bet it’s not as in­ter­est­ing as that.

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