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Thursday, 23 April 2009

This blog contains Graphic language.

I believe that each week starts, as I've said in earlier blogs, full of hope and promise. I like to think that I'm a fairly positive sort of guy (or a complete prat, take your pick) in the circumstances. But sometimes the pheasant of promise is shot down by the gamekeeper of despair.

I think most of us travel in hope. You know the sort of stuff: your teenager might spontaneously clean their room without being threatened by the withholding of their pocket money, they might change their underwear more than once a week, they might have a conversation with you that includes words with more than one syllable and lasts longer than 20 seconds, someone in a call centre is actually able to sort out your problem, that sort of thing. However hope is usually powered by experience and often our travel plans end up in Welshpool bus station late at on a Saturday night after the last one has left and there's not another bus until Monday. Next month.

So it is with applying for jobs. Unless you are applying for a job so ludicrous and so far beyond your abilities and qualifications (and I still don't understand why the White House won't let me run for President they are so narrow minded) then you cannot but help but hope some teeny weeny goes against all probability speck of hope that you'll get the job. And, because you have this teeny weeny goes against all probability speck of hope then, like a grain of sand in an oyster, a little pearl of optimism starts to grow and glow faintly - go on, don't deny it, it does doesn't it, and you start to visualise yourself in that very job.

Well it's no good, this has to stop for your own good.
Therefore I have produced a scientifically based series of graphs to demonstrate this tendency in a variety of job seeking circumstances and to help you all (well all three of you readers) quit hoping unnecessarily - a bit (but only a bit) like the NHS stop smoking campaign except with a lot less money and no pile of fag stubs outside the door where we all go outside with our coffees to have a drink, smoke and serious slagging off of the organisation and the boss and have you seen what they've done to our budgets, slashed them how can I run a department on 35p a year? I call this the EoTP HOE curve.

HOE = Hope Over Experience.

Let's start with the 'applying for a job on a on-line job site'. Here you can see that once you have submitted your CV you may as well go and feed the hamster, wash the car, disconnect from the broadband and go and live in remotest Peru because you are never going to hear from them. Ever. Again. Notice how one doesn't even start off with any hope at all as we all know that a giant electronic points system is directing all CVs into space as part of the CETI project and, even now, aliens on the planet Thorg are involved in the universe's largest ever job paper sift preventing them from launching their Earth invasion fleet until 2506 at the earliest.

Next we have the job application where your skills and experience exactly match the job specification, so much so that your Mum must have written it. Note how you start off with such high hopes and then, as time passes, those hopes decay a little and then you start hoping again, then fading steeply and rising so that the graph looks like a little range of mountains such as Hobbits might have to climb with the Ring. Perhaps tomorrow the call to an interview will come, they've all simultaneously gone down with the vomiting bug that's why they haven't called. You fool you.

Now here we have the graph that shows the HOE curve for those jobs that we think we might have a bit of a chance with. You know dark horse, got to be in to win. Hmmm.

Note here that despite all the evidence and knowing that there are 603 applicants for every job we still can't stop ourselves having just a glimmer of hope and that we'll hear. Something.

And then finally, in this current series, we have the 'Job Centre insists you apply for three jobs a week' HOE curve. Even though there are zero vacancies in your sector and yet 35627 job seekers we know, they (the Job Centre) know, the recruiter knows, even the aliens on Thorg know that this is just plain silly. But then you never know.

So there we have it. Scientifically graphed evidence that demonstrates that you might as well forget about every job application the moment it leaves your hand/PC/Mac/quill and indeed you might as well shred some of them yourself straight away as it saves time later in the process - if you are gong to be contacted then you will be, so no point worrying unnecessarily. The Gamekeeper of Despair has just reloaded both barrels. You're not going to make his day are you?


Mrs EoTP applied for a job last year after not working (in paid employment, I know, I know child care and looking after the house is a 26 hour a day, 8 days a week job) for 16 years; we must not forget her HOE curve because it shows that, sometimes, the pheasant of opportunity gets away and leaves a very large message on the head of the gamekeeper of despair. And that message says 'never give up'.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Applying one's self

Is there any more fiendish way to get one's blood boiling than trying to complete a job application sent to you by a prospective employer in a template created in Word? I ask, as one who has made many applications for jobs over the last few years and whose heart sinks and soul dies a little more each time every time one of these doozies turns up.

There are, as we all know, many ways to apply for a job.

There's the click, fire and forget method of the on-line job sites where you can apply for (and be subsequently ignored by) many jobs with the practiced ease of a professional job seeker. 'Look at me apply for this job with my my back to the computer and using just a mirror to use the mouse whilst juggling two apples'.

We have the carefully tuned, honed and polished CV where you spend hours skillfully attempting to match the skills and competencies outlined in the job description and that you email off and then are subsequently ignored.

There's the 'Oh just send a standard CV as the company or agency doing the recruiting gives just palimpsest details of what the job entails' and then are subsequently ignored.

We have the proactive approach CV where you have forensically targeted a potential employer and sent in 'Let's meet up and talk about how I can turn your company around in 48 hours CV' and then are subsequently ignored.

However with all the above approaches there is one positive aspect to the whole process and that it is you, with whatever word processing package you use, who are in control of the layout, formatting and aesthetics of the CV. If the final result looks like a dog's dinner and hamster's nest remember that you that prepared it.

But then, but then, we have the templates, the very output of Beelzebub.
In Word.
Or created in Word but turned into a pdf.
These seem to turn up mainly from public sector organisations who have clearly had a giant big strokey beard conference some years ago to decide that no single public sector organisation will ever ask for the same information in the same way or same format.

Now this is all OK'ish if you make one job application every, say, 10 years. Any higher frequency than that and the whole thing makes you want to tear cushions apart with your bare teeth which goes down badly in the waiting area of the doctor's surgery I've found. And, furthermore, the application forms are created by people who never have to fill them in and have only been on the Word Perfect basic training course in 1992. If they did they would realise that some boxes are too small for people with addresses in Wales. Try fitting Llanfihangel-yng-Nqwynfa into a fixed text box.
Try entering Llanfihangel-yng-Nqwynfa into your SatNav after a good night out come to that.

There are those that want to know every job you have ever had, not just the employer but every title, every start date and finish date, all starting salaries and ending salaries and details of the job responsibilities. I was sorely tempted to put 'take bosses dog for walk daily and clean car weekly' for my first job with a major car manufacturer to see if any one read it. I can't remember what I did last week let alone 25 years ago.

A particular favourite of mine are those that want to know the year/month/date/time of exam/number of questions/name of invigilator/grade of each and every 'O' level/'A' level you have taken and the make of pen you used to complete the exam paper. Never, in all my working life, have I ever been asked to prove that I have the qualifications I say I have, so to find the original certificates would be a small miracle after all these years. I just ignore these boxes and say I have stuff, lots of stuff.

Let me give you some other examples after first taking a strong sedative.
I particularly like the forms that invite you to add additional details to support your application. These invariably permit you to type free text in small box that, when you exceed the length of the page, cause the text to mysteriously disappear on the next page because Word can't handle the page break. You can then spend hours of what remains of the rest of your life trying to find a way to make the text reappear on the following page without messing up the formatting of the rest of the document and swearing like a Marine as you fight a losing battle with Word.

And, because the forms all differ, you cannot cut and paste the information from one form to another as you can with a CV that you have created. Oh no no no, that would be too easy, all the boxes are different lengths, sizes and widths. And can anyone tell me why Word does not line up text exactly in columns? Why not? I can see the formatting marks, I can see they are exactly the same and I can also see that freakin' Word does not line up. Exasperation.

Sometimes the potential employer gets cunning, or more stupid, I can't decide which, by sending the document to you as a pdf. Presumably this is to encourage you to complete the form in your bestest hand writing. As I don't have bestest hand writing, or even averagest hand writing I convert these forms into Word and complete them as normal - see above for comments, and send them back in and let them work out how I did it. And then get subsequently ignored.

My favourite example, in the recent past is one I completed last week. There was no electronic version of the application form, just the old fashioned 'complete in ink' paper form except, except that it said 'You may complete the form by pasting in appropriate answers to the sections'. So, let me understand this clearly, there is no electronic version but I can type my responses in Word, print out the result once I have worked out the size and shape of the boxes and then cut them out and glue them into the various sections. Yes. A masterclass in wasting time if I ever saw one and presumably that won an award at the public sector conference for imagination and innovation in application form design

I suppose it wouldn't matter if you only did this occasionally but, as a dedicated job seeker now fully signed on, it's a regular thing. However one of the requirements of having a Job Seekers Allowance is that you apply for three jobs a week. I pointed out that there weren't three jobs a week that I could apply for that were in any way suitable for my skills and competencies. So we agreed I would just apply for any three - but you can bet they won't be for public sector organisations.