Big brother is watching you!

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy looking for a new job or career, and I’m glad now I took a month off to rest up.

However over the past three  weeks I have started to get things rolling with my local job centre and numerous online job sites, registering for the meagre  income called the job seekers allowance, and have come to the conclusion,  looking for another job is in itself a full-time occupation.

In the old days , some 20 to 25 yrs ago…..job searching was about looking in the local newspapers, going to the job centre and picking up a card or four with details of the vacancy on it and then taking to the desk clerk, they would either give you the details of whom to contact, or phone the company there and then and arrange an interview date and time, attend the interview, and then out of simple politeness receive through the post, or via a phone call a job offer or a  sorry in this instance you didn’t get the job. My, how things have changed……and supposedly for the better. Alternatively you could pop along to local companies and drop your CV into their personal staff at different locations.

Now you have to make an appointment with your local job centre  just to register your unemployed, and complete the relevant forms on line before a further appointment, to fill out another load of forms.  So frustrating.

Technology has apparently made the job searching and applications process so much easier, but I have to ask the question, easier for who? Certainly for the employers who’s  HR dept’s don’t want to get too involved in HR duties!! But having what I have learnt over the past few weeks, despite supposedly making it  also ‘easier’ for us the employee to seek work, I am actually finding I am coming up against numerous stages of applying for a job that have been set up to deter most people from applying for many of the jobs available. In some  cases there are jobs that may not be  actually available but some companies are just going through the motion of advertising outside for jobs that they have already filled by staff already working within that said company.

I had to laugh at one of the vacancies I saw on an online job site a couple of weeks ago.

Example in brief….. Full time  experienced post room clerk required for busy company. Salary was negotiable  dependent on age and experience. Some filing also involved. Among the qualifications required applicant must literate and numerate and……wait for it …..have a graduate degree qualification!  I kid you not, but somebody must have been having a giraffe!

The job entails receiving, sorting and distributing post and packages to various internal departments in a large busy inner city office. Occasional filing of documents within departments. Ok, so one has to be able to read and write to determine which dept the post is going to, and of course the individual’s name on the pkg or envelope, and learn the lay out of the building, which like any job comes with time and practise. And know where files go and in what order. But I have to ask, what the heck has having a graduate degree qualification got to do with distributing internal post or filing documents?  Even looking closely at this particular ad, I read through the details several times, and even taking into account of any person wanting to progress through this particular company this particular qualification requirement  seemed unnecessary. My conclusion….employers want to minimise the number of people they wish to interview thus making fewer people apply to the ad. I’ve heard at starting at the bottom and working your way up in the company, but this has got to be ridiculous.

I could do that job with my eyes shut, in fact part of the job I have done for the last 20 yrs (and jobs before that) entailed me to do both sorting post and packages, and filing. In addition to this I was a goods inwards officer  for the best part of 14 years, and  I also trained internally to become a BSI auditor (now ISO) and reached internal senior auditor status (for 3 years before choosing to step down, due to other commitments) and as a result of this achievement I trained others as internal BSI auditors, where up on we were responsible for auditing 3 main manufacturing sites in my company) I didn’t have a graduate degree qualification to be able to do that, I didn’t need one, in those days it was about learning on the job, and thus gaining that valuable experience and putting it into good practise. In addition to all of this most agencies and employers want to look at how you conduct yourself at an interview, and rightly so, they want to see if you ‘seem right’ for a particular job, if you have any colour sense in the way you dress for the interview, if your shoes shine, some put more emphasise on this than the real experience a person has to offer. I was surprised to be told a few months ago by someone that when your offered an interview by a company, to do your homework on that company, who they are, what they do, their financial position, their performance in the market, get to know all and everything about them, in other words impress them with your in depth knowledge on them. I asked the question why, and the reply was, because that’s what employers expect now!!  I think that getting a job as a clerical assistant, or a picker packer, cleaner, warehouse operative, post room assistant, filing clerk or admin assistant and so on doesn’t require you to know the financial market share of that company, perhaps as a senior manager, executive, director it would help.

Aside of all this I also put myself through evening college for a little over a year to gain a qualification in logistics and distribution management, having passed both exams I then became an Associate Member of the Institute of Logistics (AMI  Log for short) Although I no longer use these letters after my name, and I don’t use the skills and expertise I learned about 12 yrs ago, I still have some knowledge of these procedures. But having said all that I learnt more about the various jobs I did with my last employer by hands on experience and getting involved at all different levels. Practical experience goes a long way.

But what has annoyed and frustrated me these past couple of weeks is how, for want of a better phrase, whilst you are unemployed and doing your utmost to find a new job ‘you are owned’ by the job centre and government for that period of time. Not only do you have to report to them every 2 weeks at a time that is arranged by them to ‘sign on’ in order to receive the job seekers allowance and or any benefits, and if you are unable to attend you have to have a good enough reason and provide proof, you also are told that you have to job search at least 5 times a week on the various job sites they recommend, and look at the local paper, and write at least one letter to an employer per week, and phone at least one employer a week. In addition to this one has a log sheet, to write down all the relevant information of where  you have applied, what job you have applied for, via what job site/method of contact and so on, also on the job site they recommend there is a facility for you to save that job you have applied for,  which to a point is fair enough, but then if you fail to do any of this or not prove you are looking hard enough for work you get penalised.  So through out all of this big brother is watching you!! I have been spending a good 2 to 4 hours a day almost every day these past three weeks (including weekends) looking on at least 6 reputable job sites I have signed up for and the numerous agencies employers go though for the vacancies I can apply for, in addition to this I have set up job alerts via emails from sites when new jobs become available that match my own criteria. All this and the form filling, emailing my CV has meant that I am already doing a temporary full time job, but even so because your not getting the replies or results, the job centre seem to be of the opinion one is not trying hard enough, which doesn’t do anything to boost ones confidence.

But we are back to the problem of selective employing by so many companies that no matter how hard you look or try,  you fail to get a response  from that company, or despite like the above vacancy  you can do that job, unless you have that degree you won’t be able to apply for that particular job.

In conclusion I have found that there are barriers being put up out there by employers because if you don’t have the specific or right qualifications, you’re not of the right calibre for the job. And yes I do understand and fully appreciate that there are also many jobs out there in certain fields that are tough and do require a certain amount of expertise and hence the need for a university degree or two, and I have no qualms about that, and there has to be certain areas in each and every company that need people of that quality. But even most university students who have left several years of higher education with many qualifications on paper are finding it more and more difficult to find a job in their field, this is most probably down to lack of actual work experience in a work place……and it seems everything always comes down to time and money.

Since I left my secondary school in the summer of 1981 (which is now some 32 yrs ago,) I have always worked, apart from 2 separate instances where I was unemployed for about 4 or 5 months each time, and I have to add not through lack of trying to find work on both of those occasions. But by being given an opportunity to work at my last company 21 yrs ago, I was able to prove to them my worth and hence my development within that company, so I must have been doing something right all them years.

Having written this post today, I have been fortunate to attend an actual job  interview today with a very well-known company to work at their local distribution centre, but I was surprised to find that the gentleman who interviewed me today happened to mention to me that they have very few woman who apply for this particular type of work, and he personally would like to see a change in that. So I do feel honoured that I was selected for this interview today, but this has been mainly down to the fact that I have a vast amount of experience in this field, and they found my CV very interesting. I hope to find out by the middle of next week whether or not I have the job (as they still have other people to interview tomorrow) Further more despite being very nervous the past few days with the interview approaching, I was surprised to find how relaxed and at ease I felt, and how well I handled the interview.

In the meantime, tomorrow is yet another day, and I am ‘required’ to attend another appointment at the job centre to have a ‘CV health check’ done by a professional as this is mandatory I must attend or else! (even though I have to say my current CV was created by a professional a little while before I was made redundant from my last job.)

Many thanks for stopping by.

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