Nice work……IF you can get it!

I wouldn’t say that I am impatient by nature, and I’m not the sort of person who would normally have ago at the ‘British system’ but this past week  the levels of severe  anxiety, worry,  frustration and even a little despair are already starting to creep in.  Most of last year for the first time in many years I was free of severe bouts of depression, felt I was a little more free of uncertainty, a little more confident, a little more in control of my emotions, all in all for just a year I had a taste of the ‘good life’, I felt what it was like to enjoy my life and more importantly to be able to get on with it, without the depression, anxiety and fatigue gripping me tightly around my throat.  However, that does not mean I am ready to give up on it, it simply means I want it back again.

Job searching is in itself a full-time occupation these days. I know that from my experiences a little over a year ago. My circumstances regarding a time limit to find a new job is far more important this time around. Despite compulsory redundancy again, I don’t have the luxury of having had a redundancy payment to fall back onto this time, and the bills still have to be paid.

A number of friends who know me well enough have advised me that with all my experience, skills and knowledge it won’t take me long for some one to employ me again. Whilst in one way I can agree with and understand what they say should be true, the main problem is getting employers and agencies to actually read and take notice of  you or your CV and cover note on your applications. I wish I had that faith in myself as my family and friends  have in me. It’s not easy these days to make any prospective employer see beyond what they feel they need to see. It seems they don’t want to see beyond a couple of sheets of A4 paper with your present/last duties and responsibilities on it.  At the end of the day I am just like anyone else on this planet, simply a government statistic. It seems that the combination of real experience, the ability to want to learn, and ability to be flexible and able to learn just count for nothing these days. Employers expect you to walk straight into a job already knowing every single part of the job.

There are so many differences in this day and age on how you apply and present yourself  for a job compared with back in say the 1980’s. The old method was to write a letter to an employer, requesting  a proper application form which could be anything between 2 to 10 pages long. Ideally, one of the ways you were assessed was by the quality of your handwriting in that letter and how well you completed the application form. Employers (back then known as Personnel Dept’s) would actually take the time to sift through and read applications, and draw up a shortlist of people they would like to meet at an interview.   Then the next stage you would be notified if your application was successful and whether you had been ‘invited’ to attend an interview or not.  At the interview stage  it would be would be based on how well you present and conduct yourself…..calm, confident, knowledgeable – hair and clothes neat and tidy, clothes colour coordinated, shoes polished etc, and you would be asked questions applicable to the actual job you were applying for.   In due course you would be notified whether or not you were successful and what would then happen if you were.

Although these interviews tended to make one feel very nervous, in one way it gave you  the chance to be able to present and sell yourself directly and have a good go at trying to get the job and letting any prospective employer actually make up their minds based on what they had seen and  learned from you and how you presented yourself and learn  about you by actually meeting you, and not just by assuming something. being able to meet someone directly and project that image made all the difference.  Even if you did not get the job, at least you were notified that you had not been successful…….a little acknowledgement does go along way to making one feel more human………which of course is a lot different to today’s approach of selection by automation and presumption by posting an online CV!

In this day and age the computer does the work, as do ‘key words’ on the online job sites. I can pride myself on an ability to be very flexible and adaptable whilst I have over the last 20+ years have been working in an office and warehouse environment.

The business that I worked for during all these years progressed considerably in what was an extremely difficult market, we as a company had to adapt to these changes in order to survive and stay ahead of the competition.  We all progressed with these changes, but a great many didn’t like the changes and didn’t embrace them. For some of my older friends and work colleagues they didn’t see a challenge as a challenge, but more of an intrusion in their routine of work, it was just something they had to do in order to pay the bills and afford to go on holiday every year.   I, on the other hand enjoyed an opportunity and was fortunate to be able to train as an internal BSI auditor, and achieved lead auditor status, thus I then trained other new auditors. In addition to this I put myself through night school for a year to obtain a professional qualification in first line management and logistics. For 10 years I was a union rep and health & safety rep, including learning about and understanding  risk assessment. I was a first aider at work for more than 12 years. Several times over the years I was appointed to lead projects. And whilst I appreciate that some, if not most of this is probably not actually practical to jobs that I applied for early last year, and am applying to currently, it must surely send a message to say to any new prospective employer that, although I don’t know everything, that I am flexible in my approach to any work I do, I can adapt, I can learn and even at my age still learn new things, and therefore I am willing.  After all I have just spent the last year of my life in a completely different company learning about watches, all different part for all different makes and models, what makes them work as well as the administration side of things such dealing with customers over the phone  ( another new skill…..customer services), as well as by email, and learning a brand new computer system and database. Had these financial cutbacks not taken place I would have learned a great deal more.

In one way the progress my old company made (D&A)  proved how very flexible and adaptable we could be on making progressive changes, so much so that another major corporation liked us so much they merged with us (at least that was the official announcement) the truth of the matter was when it came to eye care we were the best, and this other company wanted our brand name and all the excellent service and reputation we had built up. A bit like the guy who liked Remington  so much….he bought the company.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not sour grapes, its proof that our company progress was a threat to others in the optical business, because we made it into the best. The point being, all the changes that went on within our company over the years, the work towards all the improvements, our excellence, our reputation resulted in us all being able to adapt and be flexible in our work and in our approach. I for one was very proud to be associated with the name of  Dollond & Aitchison for over 20 years. It was a sad day for all of us when the ‘merger’ happened, because it meant it was the realisation that the great name of D&A and its reputation we had all been part of building up over the years, would disappear from the High Street, and would only be known by association under another companies name.

Last week I reluctantly had to deal with signing on to the Jobseeker website, filling out pages of information just to get an appointment to go and see an advisor. Then at the appointment I was given a pile of paperwork, and told basically this is what I must do to prove I am looking for work and applying for jobs. One has to log all the applications/job reference numbers made. If my advisor feels that there is a job on the Universal Job website that is suited to my personal skills/qualifications and I haven’t applied for it, they want to know why. You have to prove to Jobseekers (or more to the point the government) that you are doing everything within your power to find a new job, if you can’t prove this then they can stop your money. Even though a huge number of jobs out there pay minimum wages, and just isn’t enough to pay the bills and cover the cost of travelling to and from work, they still expect you to apply for them. I for one certainly don’t expect to be valued on a salary at the high-end of the career market, but at the same time I am worth a good deal more than a minimum wage that won’t cover my ever rising bills and general living expenses. I’m not extravagant person by nature, but who doesn’t enjoy the odd little luxury every now and then.

What should be changing is the way in which employers and job agencies deal with online applications and not just look at the ones that stand out to them, and the government needs to deal with setting the minimum wage levels higher than what they currently are. Until the government do this then all and any employers can afford to just pick and choose who they want for their own sake rather than give any prospective employees any real chance to apply for certain jobs and prove themselves and better themselves, not because they have got degrees from University, but because a lot of people like myself already have plenty of experience and because they can be flexible to learn a certain amount more. Agencies can afford to weigh up certain and specific pros and cons of each applicant based on what the employer dictates as their needs for the vacancy, but I sometimes have to wonder if their system of weighing up is in actual fact an ideal one. Further more these days, if you are fortunate to get to the interview stage you have to know all the information you can get hold of about the company and its profitability, it’s shares on the market, who’s in charge at the top etc. If I went for a cleaning job, or a clerical job, or warehouse picker/packers job, what the heck would I need to know all that for!

I said this last year, and it’s happening all over again, it feels big brother is watching you! And I’m not paranoid…..not yet anyway!

This is not me being a defeatist, but how can you prove to anyone that you are doing all within your power to find new employment, that you want to work, need to work and yet you are not being given the chance to either be acknowledged by employers or agencies who work on their behalf. Everyone who applies for jobs is being told the same thing, that you have to make your CV stand out above anyone elses. the competition out there is so fierce that most of the CV’s just aren’t given a second glance. Either you have all the experience that is required, or you don’t get a second looking. A perfect example of this is two jobs I looked at last week stated must have experience at numerous things, I ticked all the boxes except 2 on one application and 1 on the other application, because I didn’t have the full range of expected experience. there was nothing to say that the right applicant could be taught the missing lack of experience.

Ah well here goes another week of full-time employment looking for full-time employment, I’m determined to not let the frustration, anxiety, despair, worry and every other negative emotions set in. But in this situation easier said than done.

In the meantime in order to preserve my current reasonable level of mental health, I will have to give myself time to get out with my camera and away from several hours a day looking on the job sites seeing if that right job presents itself.

As old Yosser used to say, ”Gizza’ job!”

Many thanks for stopping by.

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