Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Are You Experienced?

About the only thing I hate more than having my haircut (and remember, this is an experience that comes higher on my list of nasty things to do than having all my teeth pulled without anaesthetic) is applying for a new job.

Whilst the secret Hairdresser pact destroyed our national morale with the Perm, the Mullet and the Rat’s Tail the Scientists that vie with the hairdressers, cats etc for control of the world have struck back with that most soul-destroying of all tasks – trying to find a decent job.

The first depressing thing about applying for a new job is the fact that you are only going through the dreaded process in the first place because the last job you leaped into to get out of the previous awful job is so basically soul destroying. If this job had turned out to be anywhere close to the Interesting and Exciting challenge billed in the job advert (instead of the steaming pile of horse manure that it actually is) then you wouldn’t already be looking for something else.

Then there’s the job advert. I mentioned before that all jobs have to be advertised under British employment law, meaning that 90% of all jobs advertised have already been filled internally by the time they appear in your news paper – the other 10% of jobs are of the “Chief Urine Tester To The Queen’s Corgi’s” variety (IE you wouldn’t touch them with an extremely large barge-pole.

Then there’s the qualifications you need to be considered for these already taken positions. You need to be 18 years old with 25 years experience of Zero-gravity and a degree in Astrophysics just to get behind the counter in McDonalds these days – and no one is interested in training someone with applicable experience.

Once you have decided that taking out your own spleen and dicing it with your pencil sharpener seems marginally less fun than filling in the application form you are faced with the Person Specification – which seems designed to ask the same question twenty times. True, things have calmed down a bit since the early 1980s when you needed a member of Mensa (organisation for people with high IQs), a step-by-step manual and three weeks to fill in the twenty page Council applications – but they are still incredibly frustrating. My least favourite bit is the “Equal Opportunities” bit, where you have to declare that you are a single-parent immigrant from Alpha Centuri with one leg and an eye-patch to gain any chance of an interview (any organisation that actually believed in Equal Opportunities, rather than just paying lip service to it, would dispense of this form and just chose applicants based on skills and experience)

Assuming you make it through the marathon application form without spontaneously combusting and get an interview you are then faced with the standard interview panel – where you are interrogated by either two of those Stormtroopers from the Star Wars films or by two people you wouldn’t trust to find the floor with their feet – let alone a suitable candidate.

They all ask the same experience based questions – give me an instance when you have experienced conflict. This means that the game becomes not “who has the best experience” but “who can answer the questions with the most bullshit” and, inevitably, results in companies full of employees who are great at answering stupid questions, but rubbish at actually doing the job.

If you’re really lucky you might get one of those team building interviews, where you sit in circles and decide which fictional person you would leave to drown if you were stranded on a desert island.

Finally, of course, should you get the job – you are by this time so desperate to get out of the hell hole you were stuck in previously that you find yourselves taking the first job offered – only to find out that the silver light you saw from afar is actually bat’s urine and that you will now have to spend another depressing few years chasing another dream in the hope that this one works out better.

My problem is that I am too experienced for the lower roles, but don’t have the qualifications (mostly thanks to employers who promise training, but never deliver) for the higher roles – meaning that I have an extremely narrow window of hope…

Still, a window of hope is better than no window. Maybe next time I will find myself a job with a career ladder, instead of a job where the career ladder appears to be locked away

Leaning against a different building

Leading straight to a huge fire

Behind a sign saying “Beware of the leopard”

We can but hope!


Jenny said...

Great post! I can see that trend over here, when it comes to the qualifications you need to have. There are a lot of demands at you, when you apply for a job. Something I find really annoying is that there are so many jobs where the qualifications are: some years of work experience. I wonder, how can you ever get a job, if you haven't worked much before? It's really not a piece of a cake finding a good job.

This is great: "a window of hope is better than no window". Yes, we do need to hope. Some people say that dreams aren't always meant to follow out. Dreams rather work as an engine to get yourself going in the right direction. :)

Mr Pineapples said...

Yes..you are right..qualifications

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Jenny - I like that thought "Dreams work as an engine to get you going in the right direction"

I make a point of trying to keep up to date with qualifications - but most courses are full time during the day, or hideously expensive meaning that people in work with bills to pay are at a disadvantage (if you're unemployed you get it all for free). It's an ever decreasing circle - but i guess i still believe that there could be something better.

Anonymous said...

Damn Stormtroopers! Is there anyway you can the training for the upper jobs from an outside source? Are there books on it or something?

Anne-Marie said...

I agree completely with this post! Looking for a job is up there with going to the dentist for me. Good luck with your search ...

Honour said...

It's amazing the impact jobs can have on you. I had one job where by the time I left, I was convinced that I had NO skills, NOTHING to offer and NOWHERE to go (since that's what I was told day after day). How strange when the next employer really liked me?

Jobs are like relationships. It's hard to see what they truly offer until you really are in them.

The only thing I got to be really good at was leaving jobs (the longest job I had was 2.5 years, the shortest - 2 weeks) ... that makes the applying factor a little more amenable. The way I figured ... if worst comes to worst, i could follow my dream (i have many of them) and become a florist!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samurai - yeah, books can help. I keep meaning to get one of those "interview technique" ones - but i wanted to learn maths from home and the college would only let me do the exam if i did the course with them

Anne-Marie - thanks for visiting and thanks for much needed support

Honour - i know exactly what you mean. Jobs do look better from afar, even to the point of looking back on previous rubbish jobs and thinking "that wasn't so bad"