Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Getting Pissed and Crying a Lot - Now that's So Mature!

So, with the first of the month, the job search has become more urgent and whilst I have a few applications out and about, this week's work involves finding work and it's been damn hard work. I've registered with a couple of big employment agencies who specialise in placing administrative staff and I'm also spending about four hours a day cruising three of the major job search websites and preparing a 'cold call' around the businesses close to me. It's tedious, laborious and I'm beginning to feel quite anxious about the whole thing. I'm trying to tell my self that 5% unemployment means that 95% of the employable population are in work so why aren't I? I'm also trying incredibly hard not to be harsh on my previous employers for landing me in this shit in the first place.

There are two traditional ways to apply for positions. The first is online where you hit the little orange "Apply Now" button and complete your details, attach a cover letter and your CV and send the application off into the ether. I've found that this one doesn't work for two reasons.

  1. Sometimes the job is a 'bait' job to get you to sign up with that particular agency. I know this because I've applied (as an experiment) for the same job 3 times over the past month and keep getting a polite "We've had many applications for this position but unfortunately you were unsuccessful". Nothing wrong with that you say? Except the reply bounces back faster than a speeding bullet which intimates to me that nobody has actually read my CV or cover letter and when I ring, I'm told that the position has been filled yet is still being advertised? Shonky yeh?

  2. Due to the current unemployment situation and the number of people looking for work and the number of totally unsuitable applicants, only the first 10 CV's sent through actually get a guernsey. I was told this by a recruitment agent from one of the agencies. "We receive about 500 applications for each position so we can't possibly look at them all. Especially when half of them are from Engineers in Mumbai!" Now that instills confidence.

In order to make an 'online' application work, you need to follow up with at least an email and a phone call. Ask lots of questions and present yourself as interested but not a nuisance - fine line!

So what to do? Of course, make an appointment to meet with the recruitment specialists at said agencies, prove that I'm not a zimmer frame wielding blue rinser and state my case. So this I have done. The first was easy. Nice kids, a quick skills test and optimism all round. Yesterday however was quite another cup of tea.

It's a hard job selling yourself. Especially when your confidence is at an all time low and you know that you have to take a severe drop in salary in order to be considered but hey, I dressed up, did the 'do', manicured the nails and tried to hide the rather nasty cold sore that has popped up on the side of my nose (stress response I guess, I never get cold sores!) and impress the pants off these recruitment chicky babes. And yes, they always seem to be very young and sweet chatterboxes who tend to talk over the top of you with their well prepared spiel and animated expressions. Man these women are the epitome of happiness. Very belittling and strangely humbling which is probably a good thing or so I keep telling myself.

So, once I arrive, I'm greeted by a chocolate-cake-eating receptionist with ridiculously long "American Nails" with little pink squiggles scrawled on them (very professional!) and given a plethora of forms to complete. Tax forms, Super Forms, Application Forms, Privacy Statements and requests for my preferred type of work, hourly rate, salary and geographically desired workplace. Why they ask that I'll never know because clearly my hourly rate is too high and they don't have my desired workplace on their books.

Then I have to provide 100 points of ID, my qualifications including certified copies of the Degree I earned in 1979 (what that's worth these days one can only speculate) and my JP Certificate. Happily completed and having provided everything but my bra size (shame because it's pretty enviable!) I am ushered into the "QWIZ" room where a bunch of online quizzes on MS Office applications and data entry are awaiting my keyboard skills and incredible knowledge.

Yesterday there was another 'mature woman' being 'tested' at the same time. She left after just 10 minutes which terrified me. Was the test that hard?

Typing is no problem, I'm fast, reasonably accurate and hey, it's a computer, there's backspace and spell check - not allowed when being tested of course, these all count as errors. The annoying thing about this typing test was the dreadful grammar, conjunctions used to start sentences, no hyphens in words that quite obviously should be hyphenated and a plethora of commas in the wrong places. So despite fighting the urge to 'correct' the two page passage and with extremely sweaty palms, I flew into it. Then there's a Word knowledge test. No problem there. I've been using it since PC's were invented. Stick that up your pre-pubescent recruitment folder! Then there's an Excel test. Not my strong point I have to admit but apparently I have intermediate skills. Followed by numerical and alpha/numerical data entry (pretty awful actually, I've never mastered the numerical keypad but then I don't want to do data entry!) and finally a Power Point test which I passed easily with flying colours - Ooh pictures and colours - I'm good at those.

One completed, an inexplicable and totally confusing 'report' is generated whereby they can apparently judge my keyboard and knowledge skills. Buggered if I know how because I couldn't understand a word of it.

Then comes a meeting with firstly, the 'perm' recruitment specialist. No, she does not have a hairdressing qualification specialising in spiral locks, she is the 'permanent' position person. Who incidentally, keeps me waiting a full 20 minutes while I read a briefing on how not to keep your employer waiting if assigned an interview. She's a perky little Lilly Allen lookalike with an eyebrow-hiding fringe and a hairstyle that's overly familiar with a GHD. She has a loud and husky voice and is talking HR-speak at a million miles an hour. She's confident, expert, assures me she's been working with the company for a very long time (must have been a child prodigy because I wouldn't put her past 20). It's clear she hasn't read my resume so we go through strengths, weaknesses, wants and needs. She's happy that yes, I'm employable but generally 'overqualified'. For crying out loud! I need a job, I don't care.

She states that my experience is too broad and we need to narrow it down a little for each position application. She assures me she's on my case and will look for something in the finance industry.. " . . but I don't want to be in the finance industry!" says I, "Yes but that's where your expertise is so I'll put this forward to one of the big fund managers" she retorts. "Yes but fund managers are laying people off left right and centre at the moment! I told you, money and security are my main motivators and the market hasn't bottomed out yet!" . . .GAH . . . she totally ignores this as clearly the young thing does not know what a 'fund manager' does. Did she listen to a word I said? Unlikely as she talked on top of me for most of the interview. Anyway, we'll see what she does. Crazy thing is that there were two jobs posted this morning which were perfect for me and she hadn't even seen them when I called her . . .my confidence is waning even further and I was quickly torn to shreds by a phone call announcing that she had a lot of applications to process and that it could take days before suitable candidates were selected. She pretty much told me not to annoy her every time a job pops up on Seek or in my email. Damn my impatience, I think I've put her offside already.

Then in comes the 'temp' representative. A slightly older and baby-bumped version of the first, dreaming about her $7000 baby bonus and paid maternity leave no doubt, with overly-straightened hair and frankly an overly-animated face. Her piercing blue eyes cutting into me and the constant raising and lowering of slightly ginger eyebrows as she rapidly alternated smiles and frowns I found rather disconcerting. She basically told me I had buckleys of getting the hourly rate I wanted. That she'd find something once I got 'desperate' but had little on her books at the moment and without further ado, whisked me out of the office. I didn't like her much but then it was probably her 'honesty' that scared me.

So I came home in last night's peak hour traffic, longing to be stuck in it on a daily basis because that would mean I have a job but feeling totally dejected, pessimistic, aware that my earning capacity is little more than it was over 15 years ago and furious that administration is the only freelance/contract work that pays less than the full time salary. How I regret giving up on teaching so long ago, how I regret taking voluntary redundancy from NSW Police, how I regret ever saying I'd work at Parkside for a friend. It' becoming very difficult to look onward and upward.

So my daily routine since last Thursday has been getting up at 6am, browsing Seek/MyCareer/Career One hoping that I can find a 'real' job not just the same one re-posted to engender interest in a particular agency. Applying for jobs . . then pottering around busying myself in order to feel useful.

I'm not really in the mood for blogging. I'm sick of sitting in front of a PC preparing applications for positions that are already filled by 'acting' personnel (Basically they're advertised because they must be, not because they're really seeking a new candidate). I'm sick of relying on young things with huge disposable income because they still live with mum and dad, who don't understand the desperation I'm feeling and smugly telling me its an employer's market as if I came down with the last shower. I'm very disappointed that so few positions are advertised directly by the companies themselves. Ah well, it's week one of the serious hunt so hopefully I'll have the intestinal fortitude to keep going.

I'm seriously contemplating being a lollipop lady for a big construction company . . I look quite good in high-vis gear and I've always had a penchant for sensible shoes and would you believe it, the pay is better! OK I'm off to pissed and cry a lot!


Hails said...

I know what you mean - I've actually had to change the way I look at things and start seeing a significant part of my "job" as "finding jobs"! For every set of badly-paid articles I get to write, I might spend about 5 or 6 hours trawling through listings of freelance job postings and applying for them and bidding on them. Not to mention all the time spent writing articles and posting them for no money on various "Look at me, I'm a great writer, hire me!" sites, and filling out countless CV-style profiles to advertise myself on said sites. It ain't easy. I guess you just have to hold on to the belief that all the hard work will pay off one day. Otherwise you'd just have to get pissed and cry a lot. Oh, wait...

nick said...

Sorry to hear about all the depressing put-offs and put-downs. Very familiar with all that myself of course having been job-hunting often enough. It must all look pretty desperate right now but I'm sure if you keep beavering away and trying every possibile avenue, something will work out.

Grow Up said...

Hehehehehehehe. Nick said 'beavering'.

Sorry, what can I say, I'm a child. Still my brother in law is 60 and he loves that line from Naked Gun.

Anyhoo, the standard avenues are going to be clogged at the moment, and while it is these peoples job to find jobs for others they, like anyone, are going to go for the low hanging fruit.You either have to make yourself seem to be the low hanging fruit or use plan b and brainstorm on the avenues that are only open to you. Who do you know? Who used you to know? Network. Network. Network.

The little career jockeys are not emotionally invested in helping you specifically, find someone who might be, however little, it's going to give you more of an edge.

Candie Bracci said...

Hi Baino!Oh don't cry!There will be better times,better times always come!Hold on!There's always the sun after the rain.Hope it comes to you soon my lovely Baino.You are going to get through this and you're not alone.
Kisses and hugs!

Anonymous said...

Ah Baino, what a nightmare- sounds to me like you should be managing these young reps. How humiliating. I hope you find an employer who will value you for all your skills.

Have you thought of a career change? Going back to teaching? or the police? You'd make a good proofreader with your command of grammar! My Dad retired from British Airways, then went back to flying 10 years later. What do you enjoy doing the most? Not too late to follow a dream?

Sorry, this is probably not helpful when you need to be bringing in the pennies. Good luck :)

River said...

I've found that a lot jobs advertised in the job sections of newspapers are bait jobs too. Apparently agencies need to have a certain number of applicants on their books in order to get their government funding or something like that.
Take the lollipop lady job. You never know who you could meet that way. one day you may very well halt a "high up in his company" person and get talking while he waits his turn, job offers could flow..........(okay, I'm fantasising, but...)

Mrsupole said...

Sorry to hear that it is going so slow and that it is so difficult to deal with. I would say to "dummy" yourself up a bit, but I also think some of these younger workers are intimidated by your high list of skills compared to theirs and maybe afraid they will lose their jobs.

So just keep "beavering" on (not sure what that means, but it sounds good). I sure hope something does turn up soon for you. I can say this is why I am not working now. After I quit from my last job, I put off looking and just never went back to it because our daughters need me to babysit the grandkids for them and if I had a job right now they would try to move back in here. So I stay home, hubby gets mad, but daughters still out of the house. This is a good thing.

Good luck in your search. God bless.

Brian Miller said...

baino feel for you. working part time not as i look to keep the money coming in and so i don't just settle for the first to come along. the process seems to be even longer these days with employers wanting multiple tests and interviews. it will take a couple months to go through our process they sya, not rushing into anything. feel for you baino.

i beati said...

Sounds like you are in the loathing stage ...the next stage of resignation is a tad better. I'm hunting myself..not much there. But we are a strong breed you and I and will persevere somehow !!!

Leah said...

I read every word of this--you are really a writer!

Maybe that should be the career change...

I'm sorry it's so rough. I would have been hard-pressed not to bitch-slap Miss Lily Allen and Miss Honest. No, seriously. I wanted to on your behalf when I read this.

Kate said...

What can I say? I was in this postion from May to August last year and you're right - its no fun!

I don't think people care how much you have done or how good you were at it - they just like beating you down and in my case actually turned me down because of my hair colour! (didn't have the guts to tell me to my face tho)

I made it a strict policy to apply for no more than 5 jobs a day and no less than 3. Figured I needed the interview practice as well as a new bottle of hair dye.

I also discovered being an old git has its advantages and that time is a big factor in this - after a few weeks of nothing - the interviews piled up and suddenly I was in charge and chose what I wanted to do!!

9 months into my new job - I'm loving it!!!

You, too will get through this - its early days and if you need support - come to your commentors!

P.s this is not Honeymoon Kate x

tut-tut said...

Baino, Baino: freelance copy editing/proofing is calling your name, at least for the interim. And you can do it in your pajamas.

Please find some publishers to cold call, peruse Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., and get going. Seriously.

hokgardner said...

I'm sorry you're having to go through this. I know how rough it can be. My father used to mentor people who had been "downsized" and who were looking for new jobs. His top piece of advice for everyone was to get the word out to everyone - friends, relations, neighbors, the grocery lady - that you are looking. You never know - someone may know someone who is looking to hire someone just like you.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

"Stick that up your pre-pubescent recruitment folder" HA! LMAO! Still grinning, luv. And with the nails the one girl has, I doubt she does any key-tapping.

I had to keep re-applying on-line, to come back to my old job. Seems there's now a 20 page "questionaire". If you don't answer it to the "Company's" liking, you don't pass go. Took me four tries to get it right. I found an "in", so to speak.

But if you bang on enough doors hard enough and long enough....I'm just sayin'...

Susan said...

The agencies sound like no fun at all, but who knows, they may come through for you and I'll be hoping for something to come along, soon.

Meanwhile with all that administrative experience and your internet skills and a wonderful personality, I can't help but think you'd make a great entrepreneur; a friend of mine made a fortune for herself and mostly on grant money, just setting up a cleaning business. Just a *thought* you know....

Whatever you end up doing or wherever it lands you, good luck! I hope the next few days and weeks bring more ups than downs.

Ribbon said...

Hi Baino ...
I came straight over earlier today when I saw your fab new coat pop up in my sidebar, but blogger wouldn't let me comment.
For a moment there I thought you were showing off a Melbourne purchase, but after reading your post I'm not envying you.

Wishing you easier times ahead.


laughingwolf said...

the best way to find a job: a friend in the biz telling you of opening, followed by applying to a company you want to work for... not all openings are posted, and many that are, are a sham... as you already know

Grannymar said...

Not easy trying to sell yourself to someone still wet behind the ears, I remember it well.

Look on it this way; the jobs on offer today are not really for you. Your job might well appear tomorrow.

In the mean time how about a short story and try getting it published? After all you have a way with words, better than some I know with books to their name!

Dot-Com said...

I know what you mean. Been there, done that. Not that it makes it any easier. Look after yourself and do what you can to keep a smile on your face.

PS: Never anything wrong in an "immature" moment of getting pissed and crying a lot :-)

Ropi said...

Well, good luck with finding a job. Maybe someone will read your blog and give you job.
Well, I am a bit scared in advanced about job hunting. I may have the knowledge and skill to do something but I am bad at advertising myself and my computer skills are quite low. I know I will have lessons at it on Tour guiding and probably in college I will learn it but there has been so many attempts to enlighten me without success. Hehe, I hope I will be luckier or better because then I may end up in the US and then I will be manish like that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI3oySI4aeU It is around 1 minute.

Bimbimbie said...

Tsup*!* I've heard mixed reports about such agencies and like one of your other bloglings says I think it's very much a numbers game to keep the money flowing in from the government. Make you realise just how misleading such figures are when they are presented to the government - number of people looking and number of adverts listed.

Marianna said...

Oh dear Baino, I know the feeling well! When I was looking for a teaching job, one language school even told me..."Well you got an MA and frankly we don't want to pay you extra for that. A degree in language teaching is enough" over-qualified and over-educated!!

Courage and I'm sure that the right job is waiting for you.

Nancy said...


You have language skills that most people is business do not have,yet those people still have to send letters to their customers,clients,associates ,etc.
That's where you come in, dear Baino. Correspondent to the stars!

Stress your letter writing skills in your interviews and perhaps it will dawn on one of the recruitment cretins that while the boss is a terrific businessman he is a total loss at correspondence, and needs someone just like you to make him look good on paper..

My sister was a correspondent for many years for a very successful,but syntax challenged,
person whose name you might even know, were I to mention it.

Stressing your corresponding skills is different and a bit unusual and it just might catch the eye of a recruiter who gets misspelled and badly punctuated letters from the person who has hired them to find an assistant..

Kath Lockett said...

Ohhh Baino, I am so sorry that you're going through such a fucking awful time - you really don't deserve it.

I went through a similar thing when I first followed LC to Melbourne - 6 months of looking during the last 'recession we had to have' being told I was over-qualified, too expensive, too young, too old, too I don't know what..." And then I was offered three jobs in a week; the week I was recovering from my horrific 'in the chair' wisdom teeth operation....

Cry and drink all you want - whatever gets you through. And I agree with the rest of your fans here - maybe some form of editing or proof reading from home to tide you over? It won't pay much but you'd save on the commuting costs....?

You should buy the Australian Writers Marketplace book to scope out some publishers near you or who need folk from home.

Whatever happens, you will find something and they will realise what a terrifically talented person you are. Like we do.

e said...

Dear Baino,

So sorry for the distress and all the nastiness that goes with job hunting these days. I hope you can get something wonderful in the end.

As for me, if I ever get my stuff settled, perhaps I'll have a better time finding anything...

Don't forget in all the madness that you're wonderful!

Ronda Laveen said...

Looks like your going to have to kiss a lot of frogs. But in the end, I'm sure you'll find that Prince of a job. My sister who was recently unemployed told me about those computer generated jobs that were'nt really jobs. What a pain to sort through.

In my county, the unemployment rate just to continues to soar. It is now the 9th highest in the US and nearing 30%. I will continue to hold high thoughts for you.

kj said...

baino, do you want to arrange some 'informational interviews' on your own terms? because i can probably help you with getting in those doors.

you might kill me for this, but i kind of urge you to start with the places you think you would love to work (non profits? tv stations? hospitals? you get the idea). that's where the informational interviews come in.

etc etc.

xo xo

Megan said...

This was me last year. As a matter of fact, I ended up getting a job AT the agency for a while - but being surrounded by all that perkiness was really too much of a muchness!

I can't do very much of anything here except to say good luck. I hope you find something. I think you are wonderful.

Baino said...

Thank you all so very much for the lovely sentiments and the practical hints. I was at a particularly low point until my ever-practical daughter reminded me that I have been on a job search for just four days. You've made some fantastic suggestions and given me hope and I will take all on board and big apologies for being such a sooky lala . . .your suggestions and comments are highly valued. I almost closed comments when I posted this for fear I might get the sycophantic response but hey, I should have known that you're all realists. You're an intelligent, well experienced lot and I might benefit from your wisdom . .I have. Thanks heaps.

Ropi said...

You know I am far too Conservative to vote for Magyar Gárda.

Sarah Lulu said...

Baino, aren't some transitional phases perfectly disgusting?!?!)*%)#*)% ...

*sweet smile* ...

I wrote my blog on something similar actually.

Breathe ..do the next right action ..trust the pause ...

You are fantastic.