Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bitter Sweet

Please expect this blog to become a little narcissistic these days but it won't be depressing. Clare's getting stuck into her new business about which I'll say more another time. And I'm madly applying for jobs.

Today I had a second interview with the Baptist Community Services. Nope I'm not religious but my gorgeous and yet-to-be-met blog friend Gaye told me about them and a position that was advertised for Office Manager. Close to home, worthy cause who coordinate respite carers for people of all ages and abilities to give their home carers a little break. I was heartbroken to hear stories of 10 year olds looking after parents with severe disabilities. Sons and daughters giving full time care to their parents with Alzheimer's or dementia and families of the severely disabled (intellectually and physically) not being able to get a break when they need it. Even whilst sitting there, calls were coming in that wrenched my heartstrings. People who just needed a little break from their 24 hour charges.

This organisation is Federally funded to allow disabled and aged people to stay in their own homes rather than become institutionalised because they are cared for by members of their own family. The Government motive isn't so noble. It's cheaper to have granny at home than in an institution or mum who's had a stroke in her own house than in some residential care. But care the BCS do. It was their value statement that really appealed to me and made me apply for the position in the first place. Imagine, being paid to help people who need help.

It was the perfect job. Administration Manager. Close to home. Good cause. Nice people. So the first interview went well. Bear in mind, I haven't been to a formal interview since 1997. I really liked the women on the panel and after an hour and a half of very gruelling questions although never intimidating, we closed and shook hands and I walked away thinking that I might really like to work for this mob. Great values, good community service, friendly workforce . . .

I was asked to go back for a second interview today to meet their Community Manager, a sort of older version of Jennifer Byrne. Happy, smiling, slightly nervous but clearly capable. All went well, we talked - honestly, we laughed, we agreed that I'd be great for the 'culture' of the place. We asked and answered questions and we agreed that it was indeed a relaxed and family friendly place to work where all 'chipped in' . There was even a 'family friendly' day off each month.

Finally, the money question. How much would you expect to be paid. They knew my current salary and the salary provisions were complicated. Because it's a charity, they offer a credit card with a tax free limit, higher than the minimum tax free threshold then a taxed income. The bottom line $47,000 . . .my face dropped, their faces dropped. I 'ummed' and 'arrghhd' but there's no way I could take almost a 50% drop in salary. They were offering less than that offered by temp agencies for junior receptionists but admitted that their hands were tied by bureaucracy and they could offer no more.

So . .after all the excitement . . I was interviewed, called back . . hopefull but cannot accept a job with such a low salary. Had I a partner, a breadwinner, I'd have done it for the job not the money but I don't. I have commitments and bills and debts and had to decline.

I feel great that I managed to be offered a job on my first foray into the big bad world. I feel great that a fellow blogger cared enough to give me a heads up on an organisation that I didn't know existed. I feel great that these two women encouraged me to keep applying for any jobs within their organisation knowing that they'd give me an endorsement. I felt great that I left them disappointed but understanding that they couldn't offer more even if they wanted to. I felt great that I've met two women with whom I can now network and meet in the shops and say "Hi, hows your Office Manager search going . . " Seriously, they were lovely.

I feel like shit that I can't go into work tomorrow saying "Hey, I found a job with great people, serving a fantastic cause, close to home and with a salary that matches mine . . !"

Ah well . . .the job search resumes. And Gaye . . you are a complete saint. Thank you so much for making me aware of this organisation and for pitching in for the job. Sadly, we won't meet over the reception desk at Seven Hills!


Grow Up said...

Best of luck in the continued search!

Brian Miller said...

still early in the battle baino. good early success to keep you warm as you head out into the streets again. it will happen. hope all your dreams come true with the next one.

Sarah Lulu said...

Hello there ...I work for another charity that does the exact same thing in my region....

I work for another arm of it myself .... and the pay is lousy for the admin workers.

Many blessings on you finding what you need for you!


laughingwolf said...

sorry to hear that, baino :(

what does that 'credit card' entail?

would it bring your income up a bit, enough to make it worth another look?

i beati said...

I hope another comes soon. getting ones feet wet great practice..Sandy

Candie Bracci said...

Hi Baino,it's a shame,money matters,bills to pay and so many things we always have to pay,pay,pay,in this bloody world is coming on the way of such a wonderful thing.On the other hand,it gives you the boost you need and you have had a great experience in meeting those women,good people.This is always a good thing.I hope you find what you need.It shows again,it's rare to find everything good in something.We can't have it all most of the time.Yes life is bitter sweet indeed.

Have a nice day :)

Melissa said...

What a great experience, Baino! I was hoping that the end of the blog would have you in that place, because it sounds fabulous and right up your alley, but something is waiting down the road for you ... Best of luck! Hugs!

Melissa said...

p.s. LOVED the shots of the beach!!

Terence McDanger said...

Take the good out of it and forge on with hope renewed Baino! There was probably loads of people gagging for that job and they chose you.

Keep plugging away and it'll come good. Best of luck.

Quickroute said...

I've been contemplating a serious drop in income myself but also resisting it - I'll hold out a while longer - good luck!

Anonymous said...

Baino, I know too well the care of a disabled parent( tho' I'm quite a bit older, of course ). The cause sounds worthy and if that's the pay in( I'm assuming )Aussie $$$, 'tis still a heck of a lot more than I'm bringing in! Then again, to lose 1/2 your salary( if you had chose to accept it )...ouch! I ended up with a 1/3 less when I came back to work, so have had to economise and make a lot of sacrifices( 'tis why it took me 14 years to save for that trip )!!!

I dearly sympathise with your plight, as I've been there many times. It doesn't get easier tho' does it? But wishing you much luck!

Susan said...

Congratulations on finding such a wonderful place and being wanted and succeeding so well... BUMMER that it couldn't pay enough.

I hope it's a sign that the right job will come along, and with a salary you can live (comfortably) with.

(Meanwhile here I was feeling quite smug about earning 16K euros last year...maybe *I* should go out and get a real job??)

Ronda Laveen said...

Onward and upward! Maybe someday you will be in a position to help that organization. Best of luck.

Grannymar said...

This end of the globe Charities are well known for paying a lower rate. It was a great opportunity to hone the interview skills.

Chin up, tomorrow may be your day!

jay said...

Oh, that's a shame. I know people moan about charities spending the money that has been donated on admin and not on the cause that the money was donated for, but the fact of the matter is that people have to be able to earn enough money to live.

Vocations are all very well, but most people DO need to pay the bills. :(

nick said...

A shame you got on with them so well and it was a good cause, but the pay stymied it. As Grannymar said, at least it was a good chance to sharpen your interview skills and gain some confidence. Hopefully it won't be too long before another, better-paid offer comes along.

Kath Lockett said...

That's a real shame, Baino. I have friends who also got paid around that amount but somehow had a much lower mortgage rate (and some tax benefits) that meant that they *could* take on the job because their mortgage had reduced by 50%. However, that was back in 1997.

Clearly though, you *are* marketable and have the skills and personality that employers want. It won't be long until there's a perfect fit for you.

kj said...

you were their # 1 choice. first run out the gate. don't forget this my sweet marshmellow friend: and if you decide you want to work for a non-profit/service organization, don't give up that pursuit. afterall, you could run anybody's business. don't forget that either.

i'm raising my cup and toasting your job offer: yippee!!!


Paddy Bloggit said...

Sorry about the job Baino.

Fingers crossed for you.


e said...

Fingers, toes and wrists crossed that you get a job you can live on. When I saw the salary, my eyes grew wide. But everyone's needs are different. Best of luck!

Megan said...

I'll take it!!!!!

River said...

Reached for my calculator and worked out that if I was physically fit enough to work full time, I still would earn only about half of what you were offered. Still, seeing as how it's only half of what you'd been getting, I'd say keep looking a while longer. The job did sound perfect though.

Baino said...

Thanks everyone. I won't comment individually cos I'd just say the same thing. Onward and upward indeed.

I don't want to sound like I'm ungrateful, I'm not but that is not a commensurate salary for the work required. Actually $55,000 pa is considered the 'average' wage here in Australia. So that offering was well below average. Some of you mentioned that you're on much less. .River? Even at retail rates, you'd earn about $30,000 (shifts and public holidays not withstanding).

Perhaps it seems a lot to the American contingent but remember our cost of living and taxes are much, much higher here than in the US.

I doubt I'll replace my existing salary straight away but to take a job that pays half of it just isn't on the cards at the moment.

I just didn't want to sound greedy, I'm not but I know what I need to earn in order to service my debt and I also know what I'm 'worth'. Remember, I'm a single. If I had an 'earning' partner, I may have been tempted!

The use of a 'credit' card is a way for the State Government to avoid tax going back to the Feds who fund Health in the first place. In the case of health providers and support services, the first $16,000 of the salary is tax free so they give it to you on a credit card, rather than as cash which would be taxable. Complicated I know. So basically I would have been paid about 30% in credit and the balance in cash.

Confused . . me too . .off to fill in more applications!

Big hugz

steph said...


Well done! for getting so far in the interview process but you know, I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard that this job wasn't for you for salary reasons.

With your big heart, I'd be afraid that you'd end up giving TOO MUCH of yourself to a charity for far TOO LITTLE in return. Thank heavens money did the talking.

Once you get yourself sorted with a job that pays you what you're really worth, you might consider going back to that charity to see how you could help out as a volunteer. They sound wonderful and I think you'd revel in that sphere when not financially dependent on it.

I'll be thinking of you on Friday as you wave goodbye and start your new and exciting journey! xox

Ribbon said...

G'day Baino...
Yep unfotunately anything to do with caring for others pays buggar all.
Unfortunately it's almost impossible to survive on that scale wage in Sydney.
Good luck with the hunt.
As you can read we're all cheering for you :-)

x Ribbon

River said...

Baino, last financial year I earned $18,504. We're living a little close to the edge here. I'm so very glad I don't have a mortgage, no credit cards,(well, I have them, just don't use them), the kids don't live with me.

laughingwolf said...

sounds like MORE government 'logic' :(

Baino said...

Thanks Steph. I would like to work in some philanthropic field if at all possible. I've had a job before that was really satisfying in that area and did pay well so who knows.

Ribbon I think Sydneysiders are paid above other major cities due to the cost of living. Perhaps I should consider moving! Thanks for the support, it's been wonderful really.

River I don't know how you do it although if you have no debts, it's manageable I guess. We have lots of retirees living on around $20,000 a year and a little help from Centrelink. Again, I think our wage scales are a little higher here. The casual retail award in NSW is $18.30 an hour, $15.95 for Part time or $606 a week full time.

Wuffa it's a weird scheme but they're starting to do it with nurses as well. The commonwealth gives money to the states for health then the states run the health system in each state. If they were to offer higher wages, the tax goes back to the commonwealth so they've got round it by offering a higher tax free threshold in the form of a credit card.

River said...

Baino, our part time and casual rates are a little higher, $17.48 part time and $20.97 casual, but I only work between 17-21 hours per week, because of varying physical problems. I look on it as good practice for when I'm ancient and surviving on a pension.

GayƩ Terzioglu said...

I am sorry that the salary offered was half of what you were getting. I hope you find something that is more financially viable to you Hels.
I am glad though that it was a great experience to go through the interview process and being offered a position, many years after not being in the job-seeker market. Big kudoz, I knew you'd get it but I had no idea about the $$$ side of things.
Good luck, hope you find something that meets your needs.


GayƩ Terzioglu said...

It's Baptist Community Services by the way :P
Next time, dear!

Baino said...

Ah well who'd have thunk it River? I was going by the NSW award, maybe some pay a little higher. You do what you can I guess. I still think it's peanuts compared to what some people get for absolute bludgery but don't get me started on that one. Cheers:)

Sorry Gaye, Baptist Community Services it is and thank you so much for the referral. They were a wonderful group, I've been singing their praises all week! You know if they'd offered another $10,000 I'd have jumped even tho that's still way below what I'm earning (erm hang on, I'm earning zip! *sigh*)

Kate said...

My daughter has just started her 'dream job' - a job I could never do but she has a vocation for it that is amazing.
She had been caring for the elderly and infirm in their own homes until she saw that Rainbows Childrens Hospice had a vacancy - she has all the training for this work but there had never been an opening before.

At interview she was asked what she was currently earning (carers are poorly paid here) and she told them.

24 hours later she was offered the job and started this week - they have matched her wage from the care agency and it will not change because this is a charity and they simply cannot afford to pay her more.
I wonder what would have happened had she lied about her current wage?
But no matter - this is the work she wants to do .... she wants 'to make a difference' and I can only applaud that!

Baino said...

Hi Kate, wondered where you'd been you've been quiet on the blogosphere and welcome over to Bainos! You're daughter is very lucky indeed to have not just her salary matched but a job she loves, good luck to her. I wonder every day whether I did the right thing but current circumstances mean I have to chase something with at least a little more cash. Hope the elbow's healing nicely!

Kate said...

Hi Baino - Still here but, as you say, quiet for a while.....
I had to make this same decision last year when bullied into a breakdown by my manager I left my job of 21 years - I found a job I liked but at £10,000 less per annum. It just had to be done really and I have learned to cope - the upside is - I enjoy what i'm doing now and it gives me a chance to use my Spanish skills.
Mine is the income that matters in this house, where as I said my daughter's salary cannot help - but, for all that I wouldn't swap my independence to move a male wage earner in - oh no!!!
Elbow is still very sore but no pins and needles so i think I'm on the mend thank you!!!