The dreaded R word! REDUNDANCY has reared its horrid head in the Jillslawit household, and at the end of August, I will no longer be working for the company who have employed me for over a decade. This means that the hapless Huddersfield lass has to re-enter the job market and attempt to navigate round the minefield of online applications.
OH DEAR GOD!
Now back in the day, job hunting was a different pond of piranhas. You knew where you were. You headed off for the Jobcentre, scanned the boards, plucked out the card with the job description you fancied, handed it to the person on the desk and took it from there.
After this way of doing things sank into the sands of history (or, more precisely, soggy Rhyl beach where I was living when I left school) it was a squint in the paper – carefully for me, see my post from last year ‘What’s black and white and red all over’ – or responding to cards in windows. Whatever happened to the good old covering letter and cv, and speculative enquiries in hard copy?
These days it all seems to be online. If you have visited my little blog before, you may recall that technical progression hasn’t quite filtered through into my pen-and-papery brain. In my head I am ticking boxes with a biro, and composing my hand-written supporting statements. So once again I have had to turn to the younger generation for whom this online stuff should be second nature.
Me: Jas! (Head flung into hands in despair) It’s just took me …a-ges… to put all that information in. Why’s it not letting me continue? It won’t accept my password…it’s right, I know it’s right, I typed it in three times…
Jasmine, my long-suffering daughter: Have you actually signed onto that site? You need to have an account with them.
This was all news to me. Fill in a load of details with each job website you want to use, before possibly repeating the process for each application. Going round and round in circles double-checking long-forgotten info such as exam dates and grades, and job history, scrutinising each different Job Description and Person Spec for relevant stuff to individualise the supporting statements.
Phew, hours of work!
Then listing everything I’ve applied for, which site I applied through, logon details, ref number, wage etc lest I forget. Then possibly cursing if my email and password are rejected, remembering to log back in in case a response comes via the site rather than by more conventional methods. I’ve even been told to check junk folders in case anything slips through into there!
What a load of faff!
So far I’ve had one unsuccessful interview, a rash of ‘unsuccessful’ against the post in my applications, a couple of ‘we’ll keep you on file’ emails and plenty who’ve never responded, leaving me to conjecture whether they’ve actually received the application or are just uncaring, unsympathetic Inhuman Resources being plain rude! In the days of postage charges for rejection letters, I could understand no communication, especially if there was a decent volume of applicants. But surely these days, a stock email, press send, job done, applicant out of misery. Or is it just me?
And as for these bloody jobsites! You are asked for criteria to help personalise your jobsearch. Ok, so why were there only general things to select. And key words? As I had delusions of grandeur and fancied a complete career change, I typed in ‘National Trust’. ‘Just think,’ I thought to myself, ‘soon you could be planting trees, helping lay footpaths or recording curlew numbers on Marsden Moor, maybe even working on-site at one of the NT’s properties or stately homes’.
Instead, Indeed took the words national and trust, and used them individually, so I was sent jobs nationally as well as the preferred radius (which had to be a minimum of 10 miles, not great for me on public transport with a potential low wage), and also the jobs with trust in the description, which are lots, and non-specific for me. They also used trust to imply health trusts, so I now get heaps of emails for very unsuitable positions. Do I look like a Consultant Haemotologist, or a Senior Research Fellow? Yeah, I could edit this info I suppose, but this would mean another helpless cry of ‘Jaaaas!’
Interviews are quite another thing. In recent years it’s been me vetting prospective new staff in a (hopefully) non-scary way. I’ve had a fair few interviews in my life and know them to be horrid, nerve-jangling affairs surely designed by the servants of Satan.
My first interview on leaving school was at a posh curtain and material shop called ‘The Beehive’. So in I sloped, in my black jacket with the shoulder pads, and my perm (guess the decade), and never having been tutored in any kind of interview technique, proceeded to give all the wrong answers. On being asked if I was competent enough to be able to accurately calculate measurements for material, I stuck to God’s Honest Truth and said ‘I’m rubbish at maths’. That was the end of that.
Further true examples of interview-tastrophes
- Not long after the Beehive disaster, and still aged 16, I went to Woolworths (although I was made redundant from there less than a year later). It was a smidge embarrassing when my mum rang them up to say as I didn’t possess a skirt, could I turn up to my interview in smart trousers?
- I was applying for a job in a local chemist, just out of town, so I made sure I was just a little early. Unfortunately at the wrong chemist. There was another branch two miles up the road, and I hadn’t known this, and it hadn’t been pointed out. I had to jump on the next bus and run in late, sweating and apologetic. The manager, a stern individual, led me into a tiny back office, sat himself down on the only chair and proceeded to interrogate me, while I remained standing. I’m glad I didn’t get that job!
- An interview for an admin position in a solicitor’s office went really uncomfortably, on account of a bra with a mind of its own. My underwear malfunction started to wreak havoc on the way to the bus-stop, by deciding its elastic was suddenly too slack to stay put. By the time I got off the bus – summer, no coat, thin blouse – said item was somewhere near my bellybutton despite my best hoiking-up efforts on route. The public loos in the village near the office were still actually there then, but very dark and stinky. I managed to secure myself for the duration, but kept my arms firmly tight against me.
- Goodness knows what possessed me to apply for a job as a Mental Health Support Worker once, it being totally out of my backroom admin skillset and personality. When I’d found my way in, I was greeted by a friendly lass who sat me down, offered me a coffee and proceeded to cheerfully quiz me with all sorts of odd questions, including ‘name something you really like’ followed by naming something I really hated. ‘Ooh’, I said, ‘Hate’s a strong word. I don’t really hate anything.’ Instead I had to tell her something I strongly disliked. The quickest truthful dislike I could stutter out was garlic. What a weird thing to admit to during a job interview. After this peculiar line of questioning, a young chap appeared as if by magic, ushered me into another room and the real interview started.
- I once applied for a co-ordinator post for a local domiciliary care company run by a husband and wife. Mr had recently been a famous local public figure, and his other half conducted the interview not in their offices, but downstairs in the reception area of the building they shared with other organisations. People were passing through the entire time, and Mr turned up, started having a conversation with his wife mid-interview, and blanked me completely. Charming, I thought, if that’s how they treat staff. I gave backword before they’d made their decision.
So, a note to employers. Please don’t discriminate a person who may not have had the advantages in earlier life that some might have had, a university degree or the required employment experience in something if they want a complete career change, like I do. See them, speak to them and give them a chance. I cannot get the type of work I really want, so am back to applying for admin posts.
And finally, in the immortal words of Yosser Hughes from Liverpool-based 80’s drama Boys from the Blackstuff ‘Giz a job! Go on, giz one’.