28 February 2012

Am I Just A Number?

I really don't want to be done for libel but I'm about ready to turn an unfamiliar shade of puce and start yelling awful things on the streets of London about a particular company we shan't name here. It seems to me that not only do jobseekers have to contend with a worsening job market, fewer jobs, redundancies, never-ending applications and inevitable rejections, alongside all of this, we are treated in an almost inhumane way.

HR, headhunters - we are all just numbers to them.

I recently did an interview for the role of Publishing Assistant with a certain magazine. It went surprisingly well considering it was the first interview I've ever had for a job that I actually really want. I wasn't a shaking ball of nerves, I actually remembered everything I had read about the company on their website and, after I left, the recruitment company rang me to say that the interviewers really liked the way I had answered the questions and that I had a second interview.

The next week was spent diligently practising my practical skills. I printed off proofreading tests and even watched every single video on YouTube narrated by a geeky American middle-aged man about how to use Adobe InDesign. Needless to say this all took hours and I turned down shifts at work in order to be at my best as well as turning down another work experience placement at the Daily Mail.

It's Thursday evening, the night before my interview and I'm in Tesco buying aubergines or something, when my phone rings. In two minutes my soul was shattered. The guy from the recruitment agency tells me that the company decided to go with someone else.... before even giving me my second interview. Cue me wandering forlornly through Tescos with my aubergines and wondering whether I should just take a job there instead.

I just don't understand. Why tell me this the night before my interview? In my eyes, I am not only down one job interview, I am also down at least £40 worth of work and a weeks worth of experience. If they thought someone was better than me, why did they ask me to do a second interview? I thought they were really great people when I met them but now I'm glad that I'm not working there if they treat people like this. I got from over 300 applicants down to the last 5 and I was still just a number to them.

In my eyes, all job applications should receive a letter/email of  recognition, followed by one saying whether or not you have made it to the next stage. The number of applications I've spent hours on to receive absolutely zilch back from is countless. Even an automated email would be something. So far I feel like the people in charge of actually giving us jobs are cold-hearted machines. I don't know whether it's their fault or that of the economy/job market but it's still not acceptable.

Perhaps I should go into HR myself and revolutionise the way job applications are processed. None of this computerised CV sorting. We need real jobs for real people. 

20 February 2012

Rose Tinted Spectacles?

My friends and I have decided that buses, men and job interviews are all alike: None turn up for ages and then they all come along at once. 

After applying for so many jobs I lost count, I now have two very useful agencies working to find me a job, have had two interviews and have been called back for a second interview by one company. I am yet to figure out how, after several months (seven to be precise) I have suddenly got some responses to my applications but it has happened. Perhaps the world really is 'all connected' and buses, men and interviews disappear into the same deep black hole, only to resurface when they believe they have truly tested your patience to the max? Or perhaps I just got far better at writing cover letters, British traffic is awful and there is a time of year when a woman appears far more attractive? Either way, it does seem that things might be on the up

I'm not going to hedge my bets just yet; count the chickens and all that, but I do feel that even if I don't get any of the jobs I have been interviewing for, I am getting closer. When I say jobs, one of said jobs is actually a three month internship - expenses only and no 100% promise of a job at the end of the placement. I guess I'm just lucky enough to live at home because God knows how any young person without substantial savings/a timely inheritance could afford to do such a job. 

Still... the world is definitely a brighter shade of pink right now and I'm somewhat on my way to becoming a self-sufficient 22-year old. It's about bloody time really isn't it? With any luck you won't find my next post to be a reversal of this new breed of optimism I'm cultivating within. It would probably be best for us all. 

6 February 2012

Romance for the Poor

The beautiful day of the year where we get 'the chance' to show our loved one how we truly feel is nearly upon us. Trust me, it will sneak up on you. I know we're not supposed to buy into all that commercialisation crap - red roses, love poems and candlelit dinners - but if there is a country who could do with a good old fashioned dose of forced romance, Britain is it. It is forged in the iron of our blood that we don't partake in fanciful hand-holding or too much hugging. Italians and the French even greet strangers with a few kisses on the cheek for God's sake. We prefer an arms length handshake, nice and firm and far from lingering. On Valentine's Day then, we get the chance to act for one day like Giuseppe or Jean-Pierre and cast off the shackles of being a stoic Brit.

During this delightful economic recession, where many, including my highly educated, motivated and experienced self, have no real jobs, how do we 'do' Valentine's day on a budget? A dozen red roses on Valentine's day can cost up to at least £40, chocolates increase in price if they are vaguely pink or heart shaped and the cost of dinner menus in nice restaurants double. I decided to do my research. Where better place to turn to than the wonders of the world wide web, for answers from impoverished and ever-insightful ask.com users?

Here is a tip from a certain destitute romantic. Try bathing together, as besides the fact that it is all highly romantic and bubbly (if you can afford bubble bath), you are also saving on water. Hooray! A lean, green Valentine's day, how terrific. Later we can reuse the teabags we are drying out on the washing line. Took the romance out of that one didn't I?

Advice from another blog owner called for us to surprise our lover at work by turning up, sweeping them off their feet and taking them on a surprise lunch date. If my boyfriend did that to me it would unfortunately be completely and utterly futile and probably get me fired. As a waitress, I get either no, or around a 20 minute lunch break - just enough to stuff a sandwich in my mouth fast enough to give me indigestion - and in no way am I actually allowed to leave the building. For an industry which prides itself on luxurious dinners and events, there is just no romance in catering. The same blogger goes on to remind her readers that they should not attempt this move if their partners are 'embarrassed' by them. I feel like this may be some kind of warning to her own partner, in which case, this does not sound like the healthiest of relationships and any advice given should be ignored.

One that makes me laugh the most is men's advice to each other to 'do some chores'. Apparently it costs nothing to sweep or hoover the floor, put some washing in and iron a few shirts....who would have thought it? What really gets me, is the fact that these men don't exactly find it romantic when their female counterparts do these things every day. Forgive me if I don't want to melt into your arms at the sight of you attempting to hoover the stairs. On the other hand, it might provide a few laughs and I'm not exactly going to stop you.

My advice for us out-of-pocket loved up grads, is to remember what you did when you were an out-of-pocket loved up student. Cook your own romantic meal together, buy some cheap but yummy plonk from the corner shop and watch a DVD cosied up in bed. We may be skint this year, but please, change the bath water, don't get your partner fired and most of all, remember, a hoover is not just for Valentine's Day.