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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

I need experience to get experience.

It's not all about me. Hardly any of this blog is which is undoubtedly a relief.
This is about my son. 
It's about lots of sons and daughters in their early twenties

My son. Great academic record in school and a very good degree from a Russell Group university. Good grades, mature outlook, positive, eats everything in the house and just cannot remember to close the toilet seat.

Since graduating he cannot a get a job. He searches and applies most days, usually with bespoke CVs rather than the click and send of the job aggregator sites like 'Believe', 'Insipid', 'We've scraped all the jobs from other sites and present them as our own', 'Munster' and so on. I've not met anyone whose actually got a job from one of these sites - that's for another day. Anyway it's not entirely true as he has a breakfast waiting job at a local hotel. His problem is twofold.

1. 'You don't have any experience in this role you are applying for even though it's the lowest step on the ladder.' 
2. His parents are foolish enough not to live in London.

So here we go again. How do you get experience so that you have the experience? 

1. Oh he's tried. Tried to get internships in London (and prepared to pay the accommodation himself), worked for free for a local business who promptly exploited him then ignored him, bought a camera to develop his creative skills, creates animations for his YouTube channel, blogs, podcasts, creates short videos, sent speculative CVs, networked and so on. I mean the boy has a multitude of skills but no 'experience'. Catch 22 then. If no one will give him a first job then how can he get experience? Of course he's not alone. He has many friends who are in similar positions. He has a number who have multiple gig economy jobs shuttling from one to the other during the week and are exhausted all the time, several who just took any job and loathe them and, of course, the very few who have landed on their feet and are doing just soooo well and humble brag on Facebook all the time. Don't you hate it when your friends are successful? He is also up against dim acquaintances and serial People Who Let You Down. I have a very long list of those people. Let me give you an example. A old school contact living in London potentially offers a room for rent in a house. Is my son interested? Yes he says, if the room has fewer than 5 cockroaches and isn't actually a waterlogged crack house slum I'll take it and look for a job whilst I live there even if it is more waiting work. He asks for details and pictures. He nudges his acquaintance several times, no response and then 'Yes I'll send them.' He's still waiting two months later. It isn't going to happen now of course. But naturally no explanation or apology.

2. We don't live in London. We are not that far away but it's not commutable. This is fatal. It seems that employers in London, where much of the industry in which my son wants to work are based, are very, very wary of offering jobs to people who don't already have a London address. Why is this? I am assuming it's the horrendous problem of finding a flat and affording it (see anecdote above). I say assume as they won't actually tell you (or him, my son) anything even if they respond which pitifully few do. Pitifully few means zero. As in no one does respond.

He has had several interviews but the outcome has been 'sorry you don't have the experience' to which I want to shout in their faces SO WHY DID YOU INTERVIEW HIM THEN AND LET HIM GO TO THE EXPENSE OF TRAVELLING ALL THAT WAY, IT'S OBVIOUS FROM HIS CV HE DOES NOT HAVE THE EXPERIENCE IS THIS JUST ABOUT YOUR EGOS? But I'm biased (if you can believe that).

Now I'm at the wrong end of my career. I would not be surprised if I cannot get another reasonable job. I know there is age discrimination going on, just no way to prove it. But it breaks my heart to see my son try and try and try and fail. Goodness knows he has learnt all about resilience and staying positive. Churchill said 'Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts'. Well my son has learnt that and shows astonishing courage. But as we all know continual rejection is hard, very hard - eventually you can end up believing you have no value. And what really gets my goat is that trite saying 'you can be anything you want.' No you can't. All those in good jobs need to remember just how lucky they were to get them. And it is 99% luck so don't kid yourself and try and tell me 'the harder I work the luckier I get' or I'll get really splenetic. And they need to remember that when interviewing those just starting out, as they did once and got the break. 

My son desperately needs that lucky break. He wants to leave, he wants to make his way in the world as we all do at that age. If you are out there - give him that break.


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

It's not how many times you are knocked down that counts...

Yeah right...

I'm back, hello
A hiatus but, it was inevitable it seems, I'm back. 
And where is that exactly?
Well redundancy once again. 
There are some differences this time and I'll come on to that soon, just in case you were wondering.

Have you played the game 'if you had a hidden super power what would it be?' Mine is managing to join organisations that make me, sorry sorry my role, redundant. This is the 6th time, so you see I have quite a track record here, bet you can't beat that. And if you can I certainly don't want to know.

In my last organisation, where of course employees are the most valuable asset until they aren't, they used Action Learning Sets (ALS) to solve difficult problems. The biggest problem I saw was that all staff were permanently aggrieved about some thing at work and didn't actually get around to doing much as a consequence. Action Learning Sets. Nope I didn't really know what they were about either but, in essence it seems to be sitting around in strokey beard meetings trying to solve a problem collectively so that no one person could actually be blamed it it didn't provide a workable solution. 

Using a personal ALS I reasoned my time actually being paid to do a job was therefore limited. 
I deduced that when some one in authority asks 'what do that lot do and how much do they cost?' someone somewhere has just painted a target on my back. I noted this fact down in my little black notebook where I write down things that amuse me about work. I wasn't actually amused that I spotted I was highly likely to be made redundant only that, having seen it, I could now do everything possible to delay it. Reader (if I'm lucky) I'm 63. This was going to be much harder to resolve this time and by resolve I mean find someone else willing to pay me.

I have determined a redundancy theme for my experience. Or thematic as it was called in the last job.
  • 1 redundancy was a consequence of the entire company being closed.
  • 1 redundancy was the consequence of the company being taken over and the management team shipped out.
  • 4 were as a consequence of being hired for a non-job.


I couldn't avoid the first two. But the others. Let me give sage advice to myself even though it's woefully late.

Non-jobs
Definition; a non job follows a restructuring in an organisation where a number of departments are rammed together following a desire by a very senior manager to be able to demonstrate continuous improvement during his/her next promotional interview. The restructure does not have to be logical, save money, mean better and more productive outcomes or thrill the staff. Indeed if the reverse is true all the better as no one cares because the person who thought it up in the first place was successful getting the promotion and doesn't have to sort out the mess.

The non-job role; having created this mess the organisation realises it has no one internally that will take on the role as they all know the story of the Titanic and no one wants to take the blame for hitting the iceberg. After all they can see the iceberg and they've only just set off. Recruitment therefore takes place from outside. Time passes, the new department fails, there is a contender for senior manager promotion (see above), the cycle repeats itself and there are casualties - me. And I've been the sucker from outside four times.

The role involves not really knowing why you are there, what is actually expected, how you know you've delivered a successful outcome and just what 30% of the team actually do. Even when you ask them you are not clear. They are not clear. The role includes considerable criticism from senior management for not doing any of the things you didn't know you had to do because they wouldn't tell you. They also criticise you for not telling your team, for the number of vowels in a month, for working too long, for not working long enough. And so it goes. 

Each of my four non-jobs shares the same characteristics and the same outcomes. 'Goodbye.' Except there was only ever one 'goodbye and thanks' and that was #1 above.

I will work again. At 63 it is going to be very difficult to get a job. However whatever I take on it will not be a non-job. I know every job has had to be created at some point but avoid the scenarios above - start in a long established role. Your survival chances are higher.

And what is different this time? I have a pension. Because of my age and because I worked in the public sector I HAD to take my pension as there was no financial advantage to deferment. No job seekers allowance, no signing on, no having to apply for 50 jobs a week. A modest income, but an income. 

So. It's not how many times you are knocked down that counts...

Back to applying for jobs (and the failure rate is 100% so far)