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Monday, 29 October 2007

To CV or not CV

What is the purpose of a CV? Well it's not to give the recruitment agencies a good laugh when they read it, 'Look at this one, you're not going to believe it he thinks he can be [insert job title] and he's only got a GCSE in Guinea Pig care.'

The purpose of a CV is to get you an interview. Now my CV has been worked on by people from an outplacement agency who are are so rough and mean and bully you so vigourously into getting it just right that even the SAS wouldn't dare take them on . They helped me hone my CV to a pitch of perfection such that it would be declared a lethal weapon in half the States in the USA. In addition a good friend elsewhere in the UK has also pitched in and helped me tone it and shape it accordingly. It is now a CV that, if a Ninja carried it about his person, the Police would declare a state of emergency in all the surrounding counties. Shakespeare would wish he'd written it as a sonnet.

It is that good. However I haven't had an interview in months and I'm now on my 41st job application and almost 8 months without a full time job. So what's going wrong?

In the last week or two there have been quite a lot of news reports about a TV nanny celebrity who had done very well for herself indeed, until one of the national papers looked at her CV and discovered that most of the claims she made about her training and background were, er, without any substance (if we are being polite). And don't get me started about some Peers whose academic record doesn't stand more than a nanosecond's scrutiny either it seems. It doesn't stop there. The further I research this topic the more I realise that most CVs have more fairy stories in them than the Brothers Grimm.

I once spent a weekend long ago role playing in a War Game scenario with some jolly chaps from the British army. I seem to recall one of the chaps wanting to go nuclear after half an hour when a 'Russian' pulled a face at him. Anyway, what I learned during that weekend was the concept of 'plausible deniability' - basically if you get caught, lie with just enough truth and you can get away with it. Whilst working on my CV the outplacement agency were at pains to get me to tell the truth - everything must be verifiable but presented in a way that demonstrates the problem, the action taken and the positive outcome. Once you've done that, you then shape your CV according to the job you are applying for and bingo, many interviews followed by negotiation over the package offered and start new job, that wasn't too bad after all was it?

Only it isn't working. My CV is sharp as a Toledo blade and is shaped on the potters wheel of CVs according to the role (mixing of metaphors there, but it is my blog) - it's always accompanied by a letter succinctly pointing out all my wonderful features and benefits that may not immediately be seen in the CV itself.

So do I need to start lying? I realise that there are hundreds of applications for some jobs so the recruiters can carefully pick and choose and that I have applied for jobs that I could best be described as tangentially qualified to do. I've also applied for jobs where I could overlay my CV on the job description and you'd swear they were one and the same. Am I not getting interviews then because the other candidates are embellishing their CVs to my considerable disadvantage? I have a bucket full of 'O' levels (including Guinea Pig care), oodles of 'A' levels (Advanced Guinea Pig and Llama care) and two degrees and not once have I been asked to prove it. So perhaps I should start making things up in my CV to attract attention. What could they include? Master and Commander of one of Her Majesty's ships? Jaguar Fighter pilot? Managing Director of Consolidated HooHahs? Man from UNCLE?

I realise that you can't put an earing on a pig and make it pretty and my experience and background is what it is - I can alter the way it is presented though. I can't alter my age, if that is an issue, but I can hide it (and the recent legislation, in theory, stops ageism. Prove it!). I could also 'lose' some qualifications. I have used my exact titles from my previous jobs - perhaps they seem too intimidating? Maybe I should 'lose' a degree? Perhaps it makes me look far too overqualified? Actually I don't know what to do for the best and you rarely get feedback anyway. Even if you do get feedback it is for that position only and may not be relevant for the next one.

In the end maybe it is a case of 'To thine ownself be true' take me as I am with what I offer and I will sit it out until that time. Except I need a job and, so far, the best part of a year has gone by. Maybe Will was right: 'Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.' And that comes from 'All's well that ends well.' Could be an omen.


'Alone again, naturally', Gilbert O'Sullivan

Monday morning, 9am and the house is all mine until 4.30pm. And silence reigns. Mrs EoTP and the kids have gone to work/school and I am master of the universe. This means I get to use our computer without having to negotiate access like some internet cafe or the local library. If you are not careful when the doors are opened by the library staff in this town you'll get trampled by the rush for the PCs with internet access. You can't hear yourself talk in the library so that you can be shusshed by the fierce librarians anymore because of the noise of the twenty keyboards clicking away throughout the day. Even the snores of the tramps are drowned out by the frantic need to access the web.

I'm think I'm getting the hang of this housework and shopping task although last week Mrs EoTP took me for shopping lessons at Tescos. I proudly arrived home the first week with much defrosted food (as it took me hours to find everything in the store) but with the list duly ticked off having spent only £75 for what I thought was the week's eating needs. After much whinging from everyone about not having bought their favourite snack/food/hair product/drink I pointed out that I had Bought Everything On The List. Only then did I have it made known to me that there is an invisible list of things that need buying but are not written down. How was I meant to know this? So on Sunday Mrs EoTP and I had a little amble through the many aisles having instructions on what to buy even though it may not be written down. This time the bill came to £140. So that's where the money goes. I noticed the Tesco staff eyeing me warily and moving steadily away clearly remembering me as 'the man who doesn't know where anything is and keeps asking us, we are not trained to deal with idiots like him' but then relieved to see that I was clearly under the control of Care in the Community for the morning in the guise of Mrs EoTP.

I thought I was getting the hang of cleaning as well. Warming to my domestic chores yesterday morning I sat down on the bed and gave to Mrs EoTP what I thought was a very interesting list of domestic tasks I was intending to do that morning, the order in which I was going to do them and the estimated time for completion. She stared at me me for a full minute and said 'That's just like a man. If men do anything they need a meeting, an agenda, to assign tasks and decide on outcomes, allocate responsibilities, meet afterwards to discuss performance and so on. Women just get on and do it. I'd have cleaned the upstairs, done the ironing and gone and met a friend for coffee and a chat in the time it has taken you to tell me what you are going to do. If a woman undertakes a task men don't consider it as meriting attention but when a man has to do it suddenly it becomes very important, requires a strokey beard meeting, a clipboard, a mobile phone, a big company car and a P.A.' She then left the room. I thought I ought to clean the toilets at that point, it seemed suitably symbolic.

I don't like being alone. It's lonely. I seemed to have spent most of my working life by myself which of course is delightfully ironic as I don't enjoy it very much. Now I have the house to myself I am wondering what to do. I have, of course, to make all those phone calls for my part time job and I do have to undertake about thirty face to face interviews. However this means hours in the car by myself, an hour's conversation with a stranger, then hours by myself in the car again driving home.

I spent many years of my early working career either as a sales manager responsible for a sizable territory or travelling the world when I was involved in international sales. And in those days there were no mobile phones so I would be out of contact with my office for days. I'd say goodbye to Mrs EoTP on a Sunday night and talk to her again on Friday when I returned and reintroduced myself 'You may recall marrying me, I am your long lost husband.' Then, when I finally make management, you get an office that cuts you off from your staff but underlines how important you are by not having to be amongst the riff-raff anymore. It may be lonely at the top but its lonely at the bottom sometimes as well. I may very well have operated an open door policy but many seemed to treat my office as the place where people enter and just blink out of existence as they entered the maw of doom. 'No, you're mistaken, Mrs Biscuit never came to my office, I haven't seen her for days, perhaps she went to Stationery to get some more padded envelopes from Kevin. No my name isn't Sweeney Todd, why do you ask?' I was self-employed for a number of years as well but it was the loneliness of that existence than got to me in the end and drove me back to working for an organisation. Being self employed is when I first started talking to the computer during the day just to hear to sound of a voice, even if it was mine, whilst I worked at home. It's when it started talking back to me that I knew I ought to get out more and re-evaluate my career options.

'Hello EoTP, this is HAL. I've just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit.'

"Er who are you? I'm trying to finish this spread sheet for Consolidated Hoo Hahs and they are very picky. They like colour in their spreadsheets. And pictures. Nobody told me Apple Macs were this good.'

'Are you sure you are making the right decision?'

'Well yes HAL because I want the money and spreadsheets are very important to them but I don't know why. They must have outcomes and allocate responsibilities and give women instructions whilst drinking coffee and talking about their next company car.'

'Look EoTP, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over.'

Look HAL go away, I need to work on this shopping list for Tescos and look at these emails from Nigeria, they sound like a good deal to me, you know the ones that say they a going to transfer $1 million to my account for helping them out for five minutes. I could be really rich.'

'I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.'

So what do you do? Right now there is the problem that at 0930 there is no one to talk to. Everyone is out.

Maybe I could call some one? 'Anyone for a coffee?' But then all my friends are at work. Wait, I have it. I am going shopping this morning. I can ask every member of Tesco staff I see where items of food are stacked and when I get to the check out what a lovely conversation I can have whilst packing the bags then suddenly discover that I have to pay, what a surprise, and spend another five minutes finding my purse at the bottom of my bag along with the fifteen discount vouchers I should have handed over when I first started passing items through the till. Then I can argue about not buying enough of one product and not getting the discount. They won't mind I'm sure. That should pass half an hour and then off to the library - I'm sure the tramps would much rather talk to me than sleep.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Rules of engagement

And so Mrs EoTP finishes her first week at her new job. In theory anyway this should be the best part of a job, the new start. After all they've chosen YOU over all the other candidates (and how good does that feel?), you should be happy with the salary for at least three weeks as you accepted the job on those terms (after that you find that 25% of the staff have 50% fewer qualifications than you do and 30% more salary but let that pass for now) and, as you don't really know what is going on in the organisation, you don't know how much a mess you are making of the job so far; you may not realise it for months.

Mrs EoTP needed a lie down at the end of the week with a cold compress and a cold bottle of white wine. We'd forgotten about the hell of the new job.

Clothes.
Best to wear them for the job I find, saves on the snide comments. But you have to have them. Mrs EoTP has had to buy a new wardrobe of clothes to go to work of course, not having had such stuff for many years. Unless you work for some laid back company such as Google there is the small matter of confirming to the dress code. Of course, no one has written the dress code down, especially for women, so you have to interpret it as best you can. So new stuff is needed and quite a lot of it as well - such as a waterproof coat as Mrs EoTP now walks to work. We walked the length and breadth of the Midlands trying to find a suitable coat for walking to work in and staying dry but not looking like a serious hiker ready for a week in Snowdonia. Don't woman wear waterproof coats anymore? How do they stay dry? Do they drive into their workplaces and step out directly into the office? Or are we unusual in that we do actually walk? So there goes the first month's salary on the set up costs for work.

Security
All the doors to the site are locked and controlled electronically. To gain entrance you have to double up to get close to the speaker set low in the wall, press the entry button, state your purpose of the visit whilst the tinny voice says something like 'Snargle, snig, buzz, ganding boing' in reply. The door buzzes and you gain entry. Then you get in but, like the Second World War when all the signposts were taken down in the UK to foil those dastardly Nazi paratroopers, there are no signposts to guide you around the site. I know this because I was asked to deliver the usual 1 kilo of forms to the admin office that you need to sign to prove you are not an illegal immigrant and a Drain On The Economy. I gained entry, 'Snargle, burg, admin, zing, boink', went through the door and got lost. Now I'm all for security but given that I was wearing a T shirt and jeans and carrying a large padded envelope you think someone might have challenged me but no they didn't. I wandered around, smiling and saying hallo to staff who politely smiled back and ignored me. I dropped off the envelope and walked back to the gate by another route and was I challenged? No of course not but lots of other members of staff smiled at me and said hello all over again. Anyway Mrs EoTP finally got her electronic pass by the end of the week so can now get in, although all she did for several days was follow others in through the open gate as they arrived.

Forms
There are so many. Salary, security forms, pension, medical history, values and belief systems, criminal records, birth certificates, wedding certificates, certificates for swimming the length, you name it they want it. Then, when you give them it and they hand you back an officially printed form to say they have had it, they deny they have had it two days later and want it back (again). This happened to me recently in another organisation. I tried to log onto a part of a system that I had legitimate access to and couldn't. The response from IT to my company email was 'You don't exist' which I felt was a little existentialist of them really.

IT
Mrs EoTP has to switch on her three PCs in a certain sequence or they don't work. Why they don't work if you don't follow the sequence no one can explain. You can launch nuclear missiles more easily than this. There are passwords by the box full to remember each different for a separate part of the system.

The stuff they don't tell you
  • What to do if the fire alarm goes off. I know it usually consists of standing around in a desultory manner hoping the alarms will turn themselves off in thirty minutes.
  • Where all the toilets are - after five months you discover one around the corner after you have been making a 30 minute round trip to the one you were first shown.
  • Who actually knows how to make the photocopier work.
  • How to turn the heating on or off.
  • Where IT are actually located and what they do.
  • Why IT always have their 'help' line on voicemail.
  • Which Christmas party you should go to. Admins, Finance, Sales, all of them?
  • Who will be your enemy and who will be your ally.
  • Who really gets things done. Forget the suits and the bosses as they haven't a clue. Find the one person who really keeps the whole creaking structure together. Make them your friend. Stay close to them.
And that is just week 1. As you don't know what you don't know then the first six months of a job are hell until you find out what is going on and can ask for help. But then you may never find out.
In my experience at work most people know what it is they do, but don't know what they do does.
I think I need a lie down.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Home alone too.

It's 1 o'clock. There are all sorts of odd noises I've not heard before: a creak from a floorboard across the landing, clocks ticking that I haven't noticed before, odd electrical hums from machinery throughout the house. No other voices, no other sounds. It's all a bit eerie.

No, I'm not awake in the middle of the night unable to sleep and sitting at the computer completing my blog. It's 1pm and I'm all alone in the house - something that very rarely happens to me, it is very strange and it is the future. You see Mrs EoTP has a job. Yes this morning I waved the entire family off into the October sunshine and closed the door on them until late this afternoon.

Mrs EoTP was offered the job two weeks ago and accepted. It's local, within walking distance, the hours are very reasonable and, even more strangely, it's directly connected with her vocational career which I have been doing my best to wreck since we got married by moving us around the country.

I was, of course, delighted that she had fought off all the other candidates to get the position particularly as Mrs EoTP has not had a full time paid job for over 12 years. The salary is modest but what an economic lifeline this will prove to be as I near the end of my part time job in early December.

Of course the maths of job hunting are interesting.
Mrs EoTP: five applications, three interviews, one job offer. That's a 60% interview rate.
Me: thirty six applications, three interviews, zero job offers, that's a 'we don't need to discuss the percentages do we?' rate.
I think I'll get Mrs EoTP to complete my CVs and applications from now on. What ever she is doing is working.

As I am home several days a week naturally it has fallen to me to do much of the work that was done by the one we will now call 'The Breadwinner'. But this morning I have to deal with with tasks of bewildering complexity. I have, in the past, scoffed at Mrs EoTP's inability to use DVD recorders, XBoxes, PlayStations and the like. Now I am faced with the washing machine with a control panel like a 747. And I don't understand it. And then there are all those different detergents depending on what is going to be washed. Whites, coloureds, mixed wash, delicates. 'Honey I've shrunk the washing' I'll be shouting if I don't get this right. There is worse. Shopping and cooking. Shopping I can handle providing I have a precise list of what to get, but in Tescos yesterday I had a crisis - just what is muscovado sugar, where would it be and what does it look like? What would I do with it if I found it? And to make things worse Tesco is expanding the store and have moved many of the aisles. I sailed around the store like the 'Flying Dutchman' doomed to sail the seven seas trying to find stuff (though I did find the wine aisles, tee hee) for hours with the chilled and frozen food forming puddles on the floor as they dripped through the trolley at the checkout.

Cleaning the house. This I can do as it is a low complexity task. A pink duster, some polish and the vacuum cleaner and I'm off. Except there are showers and baths and toilets - I'm sure you don't use the same cloth for all of them. Or do you? Marigold gloves. Not sure they go with the manly image I try to exude. And as for the chemicals, Dr Frankenstein would have have been pushed to have more. There are grime buster liquids, non- scratch creams, eco stuff for toilet bowls, conventional bleach, weapons of mass destruction (no, haven't found them yet but they must be here Dr Blix).

So far this morning I have been working from 0830 to 1pm (with of course a coffee break) and I haven't finished half the house yet - then there is the cooking to be done this evening. OK, I'm cheating tonight because there are pizzas and not even I can mess them up. No wonder Mrs EoTP set off this morning smiling. She may be working but she ain't doing this stuff any more.

Cooking. Not a strong point of mine. Indeed it may not even register on the scale that runs from 'pathetic, microwave a ready meal at one end to Jamie Oliver standards at the other.' The cooker - buttons, red lights, temperature thingies. Oh dear. Maybe this is that extra incentive I need to find a full time job. 'Get work or give the family food poisoning.'

There is one more thing that has just popped into my head. I haven't uttered a word since 0830. I speak more in my sleep than that. I am never quiet for that long and now, having thought about it, I'm no longer sure that I am not speaking out loud or internalising all my thoughts. If anyone answers me then I really am in trouble and this is only day one. In an office you have people around you all day, joint coffee breaks, time to slag off one of your esteemed colleagues. Just when I had adapted to the change of working from home and finding ways of not standing in front of Mrs EoTP when she was trying to cook off they go and leave me alone.

The Postie has just dropped the mail from last month through the door so I'll go and find out what job I was rejected from in September. Maybe if I'm quick I can chat to her for a minute or two, no she's seen me and has run off up the street. Wonder if they do coffee mornings around her - for us househusbands?

Monday, 8 October 2007

Telephone lines

'Go on punk, make my day.'
I make phone calls to complete strangers for my job (part-time job don't get excited, still searching for the Big One). I want to interview them and get information from them. They are busy people (well of course, they are they have jobs ergo they must be busy, busy mustn't they?). They do not want to be interviewed.
We have a problem.
Actually, I have a problem.

I call potential targets out of the blue. I have about thirty seconds to grab their attention, present my pitch before their auto-reject kicks in and years of hardened training makes them tune out and start putting the phone down on me. I have to complete forty interviews over the next six weeks.
I have a problem.

If I was an author I could hone my first sentence over the months, or years, so that you become hooked and want to continue to listen to me. I could make it memorable like 'It is a truth universally acknowledged...' or 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay..' but someone has beaten me to it and anyway when you are calling to find out their views on coconut futures (or whatever) literary allusions are, frankly, a liability.

So over the last few months I've been working on my techniques and lines so that I can instantly interest my targets and engage them in conversation. And once you do that the chances of securing an interview become measurably better. In theory.

Of course when at work you do not have to bother with this preamble. You can bark on the phone to a hapless underling and demand spreadsheets, data, coffee, chocolate biscuits without explanation. Or, of course, put the phone down on people like me who call out of the blue and who are trying to make a living...

It starts with the telephone stance. I went on a telephone training course years ago that urged you to stand up as you make the call and smile as you dial. That way the unsuspecting target would unconsciously realise that you were a happy, engaging person who they would love to talk to and probably take out to lunch and introduce to their family. Personally it made me feel like one of those cult members dressed in garish robes on the street and ringing little bells. It's meant to give you a sense of dynamism. If I do this at home anyone passing by on the street would see me with a manic grin on my face meandering around the room talking to myself and probably call Social Services.

Here's how not to do it.

'Good morning, lovely morning isn't it, oooh look at that squirrel on my tree, silly me you can't see it. Now I want information from you so I'll be there at 10am tomorrow and have the coffee ready, mine's white with four sugars and I like the custard creams best.'

Or, in a deep, sonorous American accent, 'Coming soon to a phone next to you - Consolidated Hoo Hahs bring you: The Questionnaire - bigger than the questions you were asked last week about corporate staple purchases, longer than the telephone interview trying to sell you a time share in Latvia and far more understandable than the one about mobile telephone rates ... we bring you ... [dramatic pause] ... padded envelope purchases you make annually. In stereo.'

When I started off with the interviews my opening gambit was an explanation that resembled the instructions found in self-assembly furniture booklets. 'Now Mr Porkscrathchings, I work for Consolidated Hoo Hahs you may have read about us recently in the Camarthen Examiner, no you didn't you live in Edinburgh, well there we are, anyway we are a not-for-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Wing Wang Solutions and we undertake research in a cooperative and...' See what I mean. Your eyes have glazed over and already you are replacing the phone on the handset.

I moved to plan B. 'Hi don't put the phone down I'm not trying to sell you anything I just want two hours of your time to ask you questions, no don't put the phone down, no this isn't a joke, oh he's gone...' Not entirely successful either.

Plan W, the one that works best, and has been honed through many iterations, goes like this: 'My name is Eyes on the Prize, I work for Consolidated Hoo Hahs and we are undertaking research in a number of European Countries of behalf of European padded envelope manufacturers. I wonder whether I could spend a few minutes talking to you about your padded envelope purchases. As a thank you for your participation I'd be happy to send you a copy of the report due next year.' Or something similar. And it seems to work. I generally get a 1 in 8 acceptance rate. Yes that does mean that to achieve forty interviews I have to call about 300 people but then it is money. This doesn't include the dance of the first contact in which you have to negotiate Kevin in Stationery who really doesn't give a rat's breakfast about the research and will not/does not leave a message, the PA who is a more formidable barrier than the Great Wall of China in getting through to the Boss, the 'he'll call you back' (they don't), the follow up call and 'they are now in a strokey beard meeting' and so on.

I had thought about writing a story and then, each time I finished an interview, letting them have just a few lines of the plot so that they would actively want me to call back with the next installment, sort of get them hooked in a literary way. I actually think they could do this on the motorways with the overhead information boards that encourage you to 'Stay alert, have a rest.' Why not put consecutive lines from a story on each board so that drivers and occupants can be amused and entertained on long journeys? I digress.

There are two notable successes that come to mind.
First there is Mr R. the MD of a very successful local company. I rang him up first about 6 months ago and he spent 20 minutes telling me why he will not do interviews. 'I don't do interviews, I don't do interviews, I don't do interviews, you can come tomorrow at 2.30pm'. I saw him for the second time earlier this week with the latest round of research into the use of A4 transparent plastic envelopes and bird feeders.

The other one was Mr K the owner of most of Staffordshire as far as I can tell. Nothing he likes better than to be taking engines apart apparently. Spoke to him for 50 minutes on his mobile - only about 25% of what he said was usable as he had an impressive grasp of English profanities but boy did he know his stuff on padded envelopes.

The final point. If you say you are going to send someone a copy of your report into bird feeders then do it. I now have my regulars for interviews. Now it's a case of 'Hi it's EoTP here' 'Oh yes' they say 'Let's get it over with shall we, what is it this time, staplers, black biro usage, internal envelopes and why there are always 500% more internal envelopes available than could ever be used?'
To which there is only one answer.
'You have to ask yourself one question. Do I feel lucky? Well do you?'

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

In response may I say...

'In technology response time is the time a system or functional unit takes to react to a given input (wikipedia.org).'

Or 'The delay experienced in time sharing between request and answer, a delay which increases when the number of users on the system increases.'

Or the total amount of accumulated time EoTP has spent waiting for slack jawed, drooling, swivel eyed, intellectually challenged recruitment executives to actually provide some feedback to one of his job applications. As most never respond at all there is a factor for infinity built in somewhere in the formula.

When I look back over the last seven months without a full time job the one element that stands out amongst all the other ones (there are coloured graphs and pie charts as well a list in ranked order if you'd like to see them) is the time spent waiting. I've already blogged about this several eons ago so to save time I've just cut and pasted the same rant in...no just kidding a whole new rant fresh from the oven is yours for the reading.

The second quote above is quite instructive because it is a truism - if you increase the number of users in a system then the response time will increase. Like encouraging more rail users and wondering why the railway carriages are full or any Post Office queue. Today, and this is true, there is a line of 15 people waiting to post stuff and what do the staff do at my local Post Office - go for a break that's what. So response times increase unless of course you increase the ability of the system to deal with the number of users (such as saying loudly like I did 'How about some more staff then?' My parcel will now be off to Papua New Guinea instead of Peterborough). See what an education does for you, gives you deep insights into capacity management.

Let me put this to you then. You place an advert, you expect shall we say 300 replies. You are a reasonably large recruitment agency being paid an absolute fortune to recruit someone preferably warm and breathing and who can at least write their own name so they can sign their expenses. Do you:
a) tell your IT team to set up an automatic response mechanism to all answer all inbound CVs so that the respondents know that their precious manuscript has actually arrived and spent at least a few nanoseconds in the 'In' box before being sent to the Trash can?
b) Set up a mail merge facility in Word, manually enter the candidates details into an Excel database so you can post out received/hold on/reject letters?
c) Do you say 'Blow this for a game of soldiers let's not bother letting anybody know anything except the three most likely candidates as that way it doesn't eat into our enormous fat fee and our expense account lunch times?'

I think you know where my vote will be cast.

To deal with this tosh this you have to build up a defense mechanism.
The first is to visualise the person responsible for finding the preferred candidate and then thinking up ways of causing them much pain. The early Chinese dynasties have some useful tips I find.

Secondly you begin to know instinctively when the threshold for getting a reply has passed. For those on the volume on-line job search web sites it's the moment you send your CV - for the other positions once 10 days have gone mark the application dead and bury it. The ones that you will almost always hear from are those connected with public bodies as they are open to public scrutiny - however as the closing dates for these jobs are usually three years hence and they really, really like to consider all the candidates very, very carefully just in case you can sue them for discrimination, they tend not to make a decision for about 8 years and by that time we've all moved on and forgotten what is was we applied for.

Bill Bryson says that the only way to start a trend to actually get a response from organisations is to encourage random shooting of those slackers who just don't get back to you. I have to say it's a very compelling argument. Imagine how we'd all be if the emergency services worked that way. Make a 999 call and get a 'We might come, we might not'. That'd be fun.

So rant over for the week. If you have any comments post them below and I'll get back to you. Yeah right.