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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Hope over Experience. Job applications and graphic language

To get a job you generally have to apply for a job.
Applying for a job usually results in...silence.

I felt it necessary for all us job seekers to seek a scientific rationale for this phenomena. Sadly I didn't do that but came up with the Hope Over Experience graph instead.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

My festive present; another podcast.

Part 2 of a two part podcast, this time I look at what actions came out of an Action Learning Set for job searching and the outcomes so far. And they are all very positive. Usual place, iTunes, SoundCloud, Sticher, Tune In radio.

Why wouldn't you want to listen? No, actually on second thoughts, maybe don't tell me.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The unexpected obsolescence of a minor god.

Omkh, er yes Omkh, it is Omkh isn't it, not Shlure? You’re here anyway, one of you is. Come in, come in, come in, come in. Make yourself at home. No don’t sit there that’s my throne, only for the higher gods, I’m sure you understand. You don’t, well there we are. Sit there. Yes, that’s a much lower chair. Well, yes I realise that, as you say, that means you have to look up at me and I down at you but then that’s the way of the world. Oh listen to me, the world, haha my little joke. Of course you are in the world and I am in the heavens as a God. As it should be.

Now you know what this is all about, probably know, might think you know, but it’s not a raise though, oh no we don’t do those, except for the higher Gods of course, regularly, but before we start, a few introductions. This is one of the Dark Minions from Hugely Ridiculous, or HR as I believe it is more commonly known though I can’t work out why. They are here to support you through this process. What’s that you say, they are here to make sure the process is carried out correctly, you're pushed out ASAP with the least inconvenience and cost to us and there’s no possible come back on me. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes that’s correct. And this is Barely. You recall Barely? Barely Recognised from your union the Order of Minor Gods or OMG. He, she, it or possibly them is here because they are paid a good salary to support our key Minor Gods, as indeed you are, or were, oh dear I seem to have let that slip and they know what’s good for them plus hurled thunderbolts tend to sting. We find it’s always helpful to have a strong working relationship with the unions as they know just the right obsequies and sacrifices to offer without us actually having to change anything at all about the process. OMG is often the first thing people shout when they are confronted with the agenda of these meetings and realise how much support the union doesn’t offer. Were those monthly fees and sacrifices really worth it? 

Anyway the meeting is about your R…no I’ve got it, your R…really it’s fine I’ll get there, your redundancy. Always gets me a little tearful this, can’t sleep during the afternoon for days. What’s that you say, but I’ve still got a job so what’s my problem? Harsh, harsh, do I not bleed if you prick me? Actually no, I’m immortal. But I do stick my golden trident in people who have a go if you get my drift.

Now down to brass tacks, which is what we sometimes have to use to restrain our people when it gets a little heated in here during the discussion. That’s not going to happen with you. That, incidentally, is not a question. Did I mention thunderbolts sting? Bigly? And we haven’t touched on plagues. HR does walk softly and carry a big stick. Well hammer. With embedded nails. And walk softly, some poetic licence actually, as their talons do make a fearful din on the marble floor when they strut. And when HR have their talons out for you…well. You can imagine. Actually you don’t have to, just take a look out of the window into the courtyard below. Ghastly

Now as you’ve heard us Gods say many, many, many times the Minor Gods are our greatest asset. Until of course they are not. You are now in that category. Still here, why haven’t you gone I’ve got better things to do, cause seas to rise, empires to fall, watch Netflix. What’s that HR? Oh, the process yes, if I must. Barely, wake up! I see this has actually come as an unexpected surprise. Perhaps you regard it as a gift from the Gods. No? Odd as it is, in a way. Well my way. 

Your role. Gone, gone, gone. Now what were you doing? Let me see. You managed the Yoinks, you know those little winged animals? Marvellous things those Yoinks. Did you know Yoinks can be persuaded to stand still, extend their wings and be used as small tables during the regular and, I must say, generally bad tempered meetings we Gods hold to discuss strategic things such as what plague or pestilence we might send to distress our people. What we Gods really enjoy, for no obvious reason to the people, is to direct people one way along a path, then immediately reverse their instructions and tell them to travel the other way, denying that we’d ever said anything different in the first place. So much fun.
For us.

I recall Yoinks also have the ability to capture images of short passages of writing from our Gods’ scrolls onto their pupils; they can then carry short messages securely and quickly to my fellow Gods using the this service, flying vast distances through the Cloud. It’s known as eye messaging. 

The problem with Yoinks was they were generally very unproductive and whoever managed them had to keep a close watch on the herds. They were apt to sit around staring into space or wandering off to do whatever they felt like doing. The Yoinks dislike being herded. Yoinks like grazing best I’m told.

Ah yes but you know all this because you managed them. Very well apparently, for years, even though we Gods gave you no direction whatsoever. And ignored you. Except to complain bitterly if a tiny thing totally out of your control went unexpectedly wrong. Then thunderbolts and lightning, very very frightening. It wasn’t? Must be losing our touch. Make a note HR. Everyday be a little worse in every way. Can’t have the staff getting uppity.

Still, times move on. Not that you’d notice if you were immortal like us Gods. Or we think we are. Irreplaceable that’s us. Still. Where was I? People. Times are hard, times of austerity. I’ve had to reduce my stable of golden unicorns by 1, down to 149 now. And my winged chariot will no longer be replaced on an annual basis. Every three years now. Three years! Monstrous. You only have a small ass you say? Well good for you but what your diet and exercise has to do with this meeting beats me. Oh I see what you mean. But it will last you now, as long as you find a way to cover your ass of course. Years of faithful service, exemplary conduct, met all objectives, loved by all. HR why am I reading this about me? Oh right. It’s about the ass. No got that wrong as well, Omkh you apparently. Are you sure? Sounds like me?

But the people. Misguided though they might be, certainly are, but they don’t seem to worship us quite as much as they used to. Looking elsewhere for their things of worship. I hear there are new gods, new personal gods such as Eye Fone and someone called Ann Troid and these new gods help the people worship FarceBook and InstaGod. So cuts have to be made, hard choices taken, areas merged. Just not amongst us Gods. So we’ve decided to merge, well not me of course I have no idea how these things work just reading this script, the Yoinks, who you manage, managed there I go again, with the burrowing death squirrels. You are aware the burrowing death squirrels keep the Gods’ palaces clean, free of vermin and people, should they be ill advised to try and talk directly to us Gods.

So that means you are out. Sorry, sorry, sorry, went off piste for a moment. Sadly, it says here on this bit of paper, we must let you go and spend more time with your family. They’ve all left? Because you dedicated so much of your life working long hours to support us Gods? Suck…I mean how touching. Still time, time to think about all those alternative opportunities. And in recognition of that dedication we are paying, really HR we pay these little people, the statutory redundancy of one pewter figurine. 

Yes of course we realise that puts you in a difficult position but what do we care now? Oh I know there’s all that guff about ‘our people’ and ‘greatest assets’ but no one seriously believes that. Do they?

And you had no inkling you say? Are not inklings the progeny of Yoinks? You didn't guess at all? And finding another Minor God role will be hard. Ah, your age. Might be a factor in getting another job I concede. No there aren’t any other roles here for you. We have culled the number of Minor God roles, culled like one of those virulent plagues we send amongst the people from time to time. Sorry what was that HR? I mean we have carefully reviewed our ongoing viable Minor God management structure and regretfully concluded that we can easily exploit all the other gullible and less well paid staff that are left. We did look. No I’m not crossing my fingers behind my back as I say that. We regret we cannot take on any more staff, budgets and portents of doom from the Seers you know. BAD. Naturally we Gods have to find funds to extend our palaces and re-gild our chariots. Especially as I can only replace them every three years, have I mentioned that?

Yes we realise that losing one’s role when you are an older Minor God is not ideal and that this was unexpected. For you, though, we've been planning it for ages. We really don’t care even though we say we do and it’s written on this scroll and on posters all over the palaces but we know it’s not the best place to be. The best place for you to be is no longer here. So crack on. I’m sure that doesn’t render you obsolete. You will have many transferable skills. Convincing employers might be hard you say? Because you will be obviously overskilled for such roles and they will be wary. Surely not, potential employers would be looking for wisdom, experience, loyalty and leadership skills over callow, naive and yet much cheaper promiscuous youth. Surely that must be the case. Yes, yes, we know you have many skills. What’s that, numerous skills that are honed to resemble the blade of the finest Toledo steel? Maybe you could be a cheese seller. You know, cutting skills, slicing cheese. Oh I see, you were using a metaphor. 

Well thank you for your time Shlure. What? I mean Omkh.

Say goodbye to HR and OMG. Barely, do wake up and HR do stop clawing.

All the best. Who or what is next?

What’s a metaphor?

Monday, 10 December 2018

Not quite a TED talk

Recently I gave a brief presentation on why I podcast. 
Why indeed?
Anyway here it is, the presentation, in glorious sound and vision, with maps and subtle sound effects. 
An EoTP first.

Monday, 26 November 2018

It's Black Monday so here's a very special offer; another podcast.

You've done everything you can do get a job, explored every channel, there's nothing more left to try and job. What to do?

Well you can try Action Learning Sets (ALS) - a powerful methodology for problem solving. I was of the mindset you've read about above. Yet I discovered there was much more I could do after an ALS.

This is a part 1, an awesome 8 minute introduction. Part 2 will cover the actions I took and the positive outcomes so far. What are you waiting for? Play the podcast. Usual places; SoundCloud, Sticher, iTunes, Tune In Radio

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Mind the Gap.

Can you have a gap year when you are 60+?

I ask as I'm just about to celebrate, if that's the right word (and it isn't), one.

This has been an unasked for and unwanted gap.

At the end of November I'll have been unemployed for 12 months. Now, I'm nothing if not a realist and I knew that finding a new job would take time, a whole lot of precious time, but not this amount of time. 

Still it's not been exactly an annus horribilus. We've had a great summer, I've painted pretty much all of the house, even stuff that didn't need painting, and the bills are paid. Sure there isn't a lot of money left for replacement stuff. That, of course, sits on the WIGAJ list. 'When I Get A Job'. A new WIGAJ list is created every time my role is made redundant and then we work slowly through them. Until the next time. Must be on version WIGAJ 32.0 by now. Or it feels like it anyway.

Mrs EoTP struggles valiantly on. Each time she approaches the 'I think I'd like to leave my job now and do something different after a short rest...' time, my role gets the axe. 

I've been reflecting at having an unexpected career in the bagging area and why I've failed to get a job. I am, of course, awesome just that prospective employers seem not to share my modest opinion. I'm too qualified, wrongly qualified, too old, too male, too tall, not tall enough, too thin, too fat. All of those simultaneously.  Oh I don't know what it is. I've always found a new role before so the only thing that has changed is that I'm a tad older and I can't help thinking that must be having some effect. Like when someone said to me 'You're too old' which was at least their honest opinion if not illegal, against my human rights and downright prejudiced. I just wish I'd had my voice recorder on my IPhone switched on at that point. Sadly it would be my word against theirs. Random tasering might be an answer to dealing with recruiters' prejudices. Just a thought.

I'm enjoying the course I'm on. I'm enjoying actually being able to leave the town for a purpose. Yesterday I even crossed two county borders to get to my destination. I felt delirious. I also got to speak with people who have good jobs, though I did feel a little envious. A lot envious. It's part of my investment in my continuous professional development, should anyone ask. Someone did and I proudly told them that I'm paying a not insignificant amount to be on this course which covers all this relevant stuff you are interviewing my about. She, the interviewer, just sniffed, ignored the answer and moved on (read my last blog to find out how I felt about that whole process). So that worked well then.

Where do I go from here? I've been urged to do something with my LinkedIn account and make it work much, much harder. It was a little unworked in the way marshy lowland fields are unusable and, in fairness, I did get two contacts from recruitment agencies after I'd had a serious fettle (if you want to know what to do there is plenty of very good advice on the web). I have decided to stop applying for any job where I stand a turkey's chance at Christmas and I'm not going to commute vast distances. I am also not going to anymore interviews where you have to put on a dog and pony show such as a submit written paper, do a presentation, write a sonnet in the style of Shakespeare, juggle with flaming brands, spin 30 plates on sticks and so on unless it is an essential part of the role. I'm not looking to become the CEO of Consolidated WhoHaa so just give me a fair, competency based interview.

Then offer me the job. 

Because I do mind the gap; all gap years need to end.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

When it's not been your week, month or even year

 I have several lists.

  • Holiday destinations, places I want to go to.
  • WIGAJ ('when I get a job') - things that need replacing but I can manage without buying them until they actually fall apart.
  • DIY - repairs I should really be doing and will get around to eventually. This is measured in years and decades not days. Seriously, it took me 27 years to replace a toilet. 
These lists are all of varying length but are no longer than a page of A4. 

I have one list though whose length surpasses all my lists added together and then some and that is 'The very stupid things I have done during my far' list. This list continues to grow with a new addition from just last week. With age does not always come with wisdom, certainly not in my case. This list is so long it's basically a book. There could be a prequel and a sequel.

There are so many things on there;

Not telling Mrs EoTP that I'd taken a job in the north of the country and wondering why she was so irked with me. Irked being a euphemism for spitting nails.

Taking a job in a textile group of companies - I thought I could learn to be interested in jacquard weaving. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Telling an important franchise holder they were considered a 'joke' by their peer group. He had wound me up badly so I feel only slightly guilty in retrospect but it did end up almost being being career limiting. I thank the intervention of my ever happy line manager Bryan for diffusing the situation.

Taking a job with ****. No names but I loathed the role and the people but I needed the money.

And so on. 
Anyway you get the picture.

I've been unemployed for far longer than I'd like to have been. In many ways I've enjoyed my time. Travel, podcasting, getting much fitter, learning to cook, re-learning French, trying to master IOS coding (Hello World) and so on. All very creative stuff. But I'd like to go back now, back to earning money and back the social aspect to work. To a job.  I've learned a lot over the months about ageism and the impact on job seeking, have rationalised it and yet continue to look. I'm not prideful. I understand I will likely not get anywhere near the salary I was earning but that's OK. I am looking for something meaningful that I'll enjoy. 

So...last week I had an interview. Other observers might call it a train wreck.

For a job I didn't want.
That I would have turned down if offered.
Would have involved a 70 mile round trip daily commute.
Would have cost me part of my soul.

I didn't go into the interview with the correct frame of mind and that's an understatement. I didn't go into win. Frankly I had an attitude problem from the get go.

Why the hell did I go to it then? You're asking and I'm asking. 
And I was there. 

Before we go into all of that let me give you one piece of advice. 
If you are faced with similar circumstances then it's easy. 
Don't Go.

I went because I failed to recognise sunk costs.
When I applied for the role it was the only for job for some time that looked as if I could successfully apply. I've given up applying for tangential positions. This role was a junior one with a salary 50% less than I'd been earning. But, as I say I'm not prideful and I thought (well I knew) I could do it with my eyes closed. However it was never going to be the correct fit for me.

There were hurdles and barriers. You had to prepare a 1500 word paper on a given subject then send it in at least a week beforehand.
You had to give a 10 minute presentation with 30 minutes preparation time. Then answer questions about the presentation then a further 8 questions in a competency based interview. And this for a fairly low level role. I admit I'm profoundly tired of this stuff, of having to be on show for junior roles. Some organisations cling to the notion that this process identifies the correct candidate. I'm not one of them. But...if you want the job then balance on the ball, clap your flippers and catch the fish thrown to you.

Furthermore I had another interview for another role 7 days later for a job I did want and that paid only 25% less than I'd been earning; much better.

I therefore arrived with at the interview the attitude of a bear with a sore head. 'Why am I having to do this, why am I have to go on show all over again?' 

The problem, for me, was having committed almost three hours to write the initial paper, which was written as a polemic, I felt I had to go through with the entire process. Of course I didn't at all and so did not leave with honour intact. In fact I felt rather foolish by the time I got to the car and thought about driving back.

I should have known better which is why I am writing this down. So that, in a few weeks time, when I get around to reading it again it will pointedly remind me never to do that again. 

I expect my list will have added several more lines by then though.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Great gig in the sky (or in my case, Cloud)

OK, I'm not ashamed, I confess, I was (am) a Pink Floyd fan. There, it's out there now.

So I couldn't fail to use the title of their track to announce the latest of my podcasts 'The upsides and downsides of the gig economy for older workers.'

If you are struggling to get a full time job but your age is getting in the way or you are considering a more gradual transition to retirement the gig economy might be for you. It's not for everyone...what are the upsides and what do you need to consider?

In my research I used a number of sources; if you want to read more then here is the list - you'll have to cut and paste some links.

Insure-as-you-go for gig workers

Zurich UK’s ‘Restless Worklife’ report

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Weak tea. No I mean weak ties.

Hello all

I've been busy preparing my latest podcast all about networking and the power of weak ties. What are they you ask? Birthday presents you don't wear? Listen and find out and discover the Jane Austen reference. It's in all the usual places, iTunes, SoundCloud, Sticher, Tunein radio, Anchor and

Monday, 15 October 2018

The things we carried.

I went out out last week for the full day during a week day.
I met lots of people, drank coffee, ate croissants, had lunch provided and listened to a key note speaker. I got home late.
I was on...a training course.
The first of a number of days from now until December.

It was held at Edgebaston Cricket Ground. This was, incidentally, the first time I'd ever 
been to a cricket ground. Probably the last. Sport is just not my jam.

I had to play cricket at school. What that actually meant was being placed at Silly bugger off all afternoon, never touching a ball and I don't remember ever being allowed to bat. A sensible captain's choice as I was exceedingly bad at any sport that involved throwing, catching or hitting a ball.

Despite my ongoing lack of a job I've decided to continue to invest in my professional development and so have self-funded a course. This is not a trivial sum to spend. I had to think long and hard and have a meaningful discussion with the long suffering Mrs EOTP. We both agreed that life long learning is A Good Thing even though it sometimes costs A Lot Of Money. As I'm not getting an new job with conventional tactics it's time for a change of emphasis and some new ideas.

Hence this. Sounds great doesn't it?

Now, for me, being out with new people who have actual jobs all day is quite strange after 10 months without a role. Here are people with very busy schedules, talking about their jobs, the things they do and have to do. And I stand up, introduce myself and say 'I'm currently unemployed.' In fairness no one looks askance. Or asks what I do during the day.

In fact so used to being unemployed have I become that I hadn't noticed the batteries in my three watches had run out.

I forgot to put a pen in my jacket when I set off.

I didn't fully charge my iPhone overnight.

I found this fascinating. How quickly one accepts the new status quo. I haven't worn a watch for 12 months, have not needed to keep my iPhone fully charged as I now longer get the volume of email and phone calls I did and why would I need a pen?

I have a briefcase somewhere, put into storage, because I have no briefs.

So when I was Very Important and a Senior Manager I clearly felt I needed to carry the symbols that were part of the assumed makeup of the role but have now forgotten about them now. I used to be concerned that I hadn't got the latest iPhone and somehow my work performance would suffer. Not sure how. I suppose a bigger phone might have been more effective at blocking out the sound of constant whinging that seemed to go on where I worked.

I got home at 1930hrs that day and was tired. Well I'm not used to talking so much during the day. Or having to think about concepts, what makes an effective leader, how we can cross boundaries. I just think about making a cup of tea and is it lunch time yet? 

Apart from the podcasts, the blog, the FaceTime conversations and emails that is.

I loved the day. But I'm going to get a battery in at least one watch.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Two weeks have passed. Got to be time for another podcast. It is.


you passed the Resume sift, successfully navigated phone and one-way video assessments and went for the actual face to face interview. You set aside time from your normal day. You travelled to the interview, which probably involved fighting with traffic, battled to find a parking space, worked out train times or maybe a combination of all three. You had to pay the expenses yourself. 

You put yourself on show during the interview. You may have been an ideal candidate. Or not. But you didn’t get the job. So does it help you to know why you didn’t get THAT job? 

In this Podcast I consider whether it is worth pursuing interview feedback, if you are unsuccessful that is. If you got the job then you’ll probably want to bask in the warm glow of finally returning to employment. 

Time for a coffee, pain au chocolate and a listen to my latest podcast.

Usual locations and iTunes

Monday, 10 September 2018

This is not the BBC. Broadcasting to the world.

For many months this year I’ve been podcasting. 

You know that of course because you are an avid listener aren't you? Do you know I have subscribers in the States, Australia, UK and the Ukraine. Admittedly just the one subscriber in the Ukraine and that might just be a mistake. Or are the Russkies interested in me? 

GCHQ if you are reading this I am a loyal British subject and voted Remain. 

My equipment comprises one decent microphone, my Mac + Garageband for recording and editing. BBC it ain’t. I have to re-record every time an emergency vehicle shoots past. Or there’s a knock at the door, or my phone rings, or an email arrives etc etc. Bloody noisy places houses even when you are the only person at home.

I don’t get any feedback from my podcasts but then I'm not doing it for applause, acclamation, compliments from peer groups, gasps of admiration, pats on the back or a stunning income  (which is just as well otherwise I'd have failed in my mission on all accounts). I'm doing it because I want to and I'm trying to share the challenges of finding a job when you are older. Actually I have had some feed back. I'm not being entirely truthful as there have been a number of likes (huzzah). Other than that I am broadcasting into the ether like one of those apocalyptic type movies where the protagonist broadcasts on a shortwave radio to a devastated world and hears only static in reply.

However I have had hundreds of listens around the world so that's good enough for me - unless someone wants to pay me and then that would make my day. Now I want thousands of listens and an income would still be very welcome. Very.

When I was in Uni, so many many years ago now, I’d decided I’d like to be on radio, a Welsh Noel Edmunds, look you. So I volunteered to work on Bronglais Hospital radio in Aberystwyth. This involved asking the sick and poorly, wholly uninterested patients what music they’d like to listen to on the hospital radio (a concept usually a complete surprise to them ’There is one?’ and 'How do I listen to it anyway?') making a note of who they wanted it dedicated to, the ward and carefully writing down their name, Sioned Powysland Caersws from Llangatwg Feibion Afel or anglicised to Llangattock Vibon Avel Crucorny. And they were, to a patient, highly suspicious of a non Welsh speaking Welsh person (that’s me) with quite long hair prowling the wards (still me) asking questions about something they'd never heard of. I'd stand intimidatingly near to their drip, suggesting with my body language that an entirely accidental fall as I walked away from their bedside would result in the catheter being yanked out. No I didn't, I just looked pathetic and used puppy eyes. 

Naturally the hospital record collection contained 95% Welsh folk material on shellac, 4% pop records at least 10 years out of date and three recent pop releases on 45s scratched and sorely misused and donated by the local record shop. So nobody ever got what they wanted. Which I believe was a song by the Rolling Stones. So I’d sit there in the ’studio’ with my list trying to read out the names of the patients, the name of the village (Llanfihangel-yng-ngwynfa was always good for a laugh) and coming up with less than plausible reasons why I couldn’t play the tune they wanted but would play 'Combine Harvester’ by the Wurzels instead. That disc mysteriously broke soon afterwards when it even more mysteriously fell under the castors of my chair. The point of this is that I would be in the studio alone and would be playing the music for several hours and not have a clue whether anyone listened. I think I knew the answer. 

Anyway what my listeners make of my podcasts I dunno. They may use them to help them sleep, have a laugh or can’t find a way to turn them off.

But keep listening anyway - and if you like them then a postcard would be splendid. 

Oh no, not another podcast? Yes. ‘Giving presentations in interviews; how to make sure yours is a success.’

Yet another podcast.

Time to make a coffee and get a croissant. Oh and then, if you've got nothing else on, maybe listen to the podcast. I spend hours and hours making them.

And, of course, on iTunes.

Monday, 3 September 2018

When will I see you again?

So what do you do?

I had an interview a few weeks ago (it's been a fallow year so this was very welcome). I'd almost forgotten what they were like. Interviews that is. And as for wearing a barely fits now I've lost so much weight and I don't think it's acceptable to wear shorts.

This was a different role though. PA to a Director. Not a conventional PA role but one with a wider remit which I thought I could evidence with the appropriate skills. Still not great pay and still a lower graded job but a local and reputable company.

I'd gone through the usual rigmarole. Resume, telephone interview, on-line interview, send in sample of DNA, pass equivalent of NASA astronaut tests, prove I could fly unaided, demonstrate resistance to kryptonite, bring world peace. 

The interview was a one-on-one with the Director. Seemed to go well and had to explain why I was applying for the role given my experience was at a much higher level. Fair question. Explained about the challenges of finding a job in your late 50s and 60s, had enjoyed my time in management but was now looking for a more hands on role where I could commit to a company and use my business skills for some years and so on. Reasonable answer.

Didn't get the job, went to a female. I'm not surprised though. I couldn't see the (male) Director breaking through the stereotype of having an older male PA. There is still a long way to go in dismantling employment stereotypes. However I'm not riding the bitter bus.

The HR person I'd been in contact with rang afterwards, making me feel faint that someone was actually actively prepared to give constructive feedback. They explained that my on-line video interview was very good, my resume showed a huge range of skills and that the interview was excellent. But I still didn't get the job. 

The HR person went on to say that they'd like to keep my CV on file and would contact me if any suitable role came up. The Director was, apparently, anxious to find me a role if at all possible. Close but no cigar then.

The thing is, and here's the thing. You know those people you meet on holiday, get on really well with and say 'We must keep in touch.' And both parties know they don't mean it and never do. In all the years I've been job seeking, successfully or otherwise, where organisations have said 'we will keep your details on file in case because you are truly wonderful (except for this role we have just interviewed you for where you were not as wonderful as we wanted)' not one company has ever come back to me. 
In fact, for one role, a three month contract in the Middle East, I'd been more or less told to go home, pack my case and suntan cream as I'd be leaving any day. Never heard another thing. 
I'm sure, on the day the HR person was being sincere. I'm also reasonably sure the Director was on the Guilt Freeway, accelerating hard and being wonderfully corporate trying to justify his flawed decision.

I try very hard not to be cynical because there is nothing positive about cynicism, it sees no good in the world. I therefore remain highly sceptical I will ever hear from the company again.

If I do then I will immediately recant and let the world know. By the world I mean my blog. Which is the world.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Present: tense

Back in the day, in one organisation I worked for, interviews for jobs at a certain level were often the exception and if you you were 'wanted' then it was a tap on the shoulder, a quick conversation in a quiet office with the boss about the role/company car/expense account, and the job was yours. This, of course, worked in your favour if you were the 'wanted one' but was grossly unfair if you weren't. Hardly fair or transparent. I never did find out how all this was squared with Personnel (as it was then) once the decision was made. As long as it was working in my favour then that was just fine with me. Oh come on, I was in my early 20's and gung-ho for promotion even if that took me to the Outer Hebrides (which it sort of did once but that's another story).

Of course it may just be me, it may be just a reflection of the type of jobs I'm applying for these days, but there is certainly no longer any nod/wink and you're in. Even with the funny handshake. Now, even for internal applicants, we have a plethora, a whole mix of on-line questionnaires, psychological tests, telephone interviews, one way video interviews (I have two podcasts about that incidentally), resumes (two podcasts about that as well) and, my bĂȘte noire, online application processes. 

All of these are hurdles in their own way, traps set by HR to filter out the unwanted. I can understand all of that. Indeed I'd go so far, but not publicly, to say I have sympathy with HR's role in this case. Not every applicant is serious, not every applicant has the right skill set, some CVs are clearly preposterous (no kidding, I had one sent in on what appeared to be a roll of kitchen paper in one organisation). So there has to be a filter. I am also sympathetic to   the requirements to identify candidates for senior roles. After all if you are looking for the new CEO of Consolidated HeeHaws you want someone who knows which are the best years for claret and the quickest most effective way to publicly patronise an underling. 

But what seems to be happening more and more is greater downward pressure on junior roles within an organisation to have to jump even higher hurdles to get employed. It's now not enough to write a compelling CV, maybe have a one-way video or telephone interview followed by the actual interview, to get a job. Now you have to have group assessments or, more demanding still, give a presentation at the start of an interview.

These are presentation topics I've been asked to give for positions I've (unsuccessfully) applied for this year that pay around £25k. Yes £25k (or $32k). These are not senior roles by any measure and no where near the salary I was earning.

  • Explain why diversity in the workforce is critical to the organisation.
  • How would you deal with a team member whose performance was giving you cause for concern? What process would you follow?
  • How would you go about improving a business process?
  • Your thoughts and proposals on how you would ensure a customer focussed, agile, flexible, efficient, consistent and resilient professional services team could be achieved. What do you consider to be the biggest challenges that you would face and how would you plan to overcome these challenges?
  • What are the main business issues you think you will face and how will you prioritise them.
  • Visit one one of stores and outline what changes you would suggest to the store manager.
To put it in time terms, it takes me 1.5 hours to complete a resume. If you are called to an interview and have to give a presentation (with the topic given beforehand) that preparation and research could take a further 3 hours or more, then there's travelling time to the interview and the interview itself. This is ignoring the other pre-interview research you need to carry out. In all that's around 8 to 12 hours work for an interview for a role that pays only a mediocre amount.  

Why organisations feel they need to be so intrusive and demanding at this junior level I don't know. And then there's the waiting time to hear the outcome. I've waited 10 or more working days to find out the result of interviews for roles at this pay grade and most companies are just simply atrocious at letting you know if you haven't been successful. 'We've caused you to spend all this time preparing, we've got our candidate - we no longer care anymore and can't be bothered.' In the meantime you remain tense just in case you might, just, be still in with a chance.

Is it because many of those involved in the process have forgotten what it's like to apply for jobs? Is it just organisational arrogance and complacency? I don't know.

I do know it's very, very irritating.

Today's poem; Turn that frown upside down

Poem for today

frown when dining and handed a large bill
I grimace when climbing a very steep hill
I squint in bright sunshine when afloat on a boat

But the BBC says I must smile at a goat.