From the Heart #4 – Job-hunting Frustrations

Keep calm and blog

Well I’m still here. I’ve just clambered out of this morning’s virtual pile of job alerts to write this and hopefully, by sharing some of my frustrations, calm down a little. I shall start with…

Dear potential employers,

Please can I ask that in future, should you be unable to meet your applicant’s basic requirements (in my case some flexibility on hours – that’s right people, I’m a mum), it is only decent to tell them straight away and not waste their time. Or at the very least, tell them before you’ve booked them in for an interview. If they have given you the courtesy of being upfront and honest about their requirements, at least accord them the same courtesy in return.

In my case, giving me an hour’s notice, when I am already on my way to the interview results in one VERY angry Lucy. In fact for anyone, an hour’s notice is just rude. Yep, not only did I end up on a completely pointless 70 mile round trip yesterday afternoon which meant an outlay in petrol I can ill afford at the moment, but I also wasted over two precious hours that I could have been using to prepare for my telephone interviews today. The whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth. And yes, I will be claiming for my petrol expenses. Damn right.

Yours etc. etc.

AAAAGGGHHH! As for gripe number two, why does there seem to be a complete lack of understanding out there these days that an interview is a two-way process? Is it because jobs are so precious at the moment and each position is flooded with so many applications that businesses feel they can take an ‘I’m doing you a huge favour by even considering you for my role’ attitude? Whatever the reason, it really needs to stop. Interviews are a two-way process, especially at Management level, and are just as much about the applicant deciding if the role and the company are right for them as it is the other way around. Offering an applicant an elaborate session of interviews, written exercises and group activities is fine if that’s your style (NB: telling applicants upfront what’s involved might be an idea though, as it does reflect a certain kind of work culture that is not for everyone), but you MUST allow some time for the applicant to ask YOU questions. If you don’t, the applicant is likely to walk away thinking you are quite frankly, up yourself. And who wants to work for a company like that?

Gripe number three is something I can see from both sides but which nevertheless has proved frustrating for me in the last few weeks so it goes in the blog… If you have a role you’re recruiting for and you have the perfect or near-perfect applicant already working for you, promote them. Just do it. You probably won’t regret it, but if you’re worried you might, add a probationary period into their contract and then if your judgement is way off you can always recruit externally at a later date.  I’ve gone for two positions recently which were filled internally in the end – one before the interview stage (not so much of a pain) and once after the aforementioned gruelling 3 hour group assessment session complete with presentation at the end. Slightly more annoying I have to be honest.

And so I move on to gripe number four: APPLICATION FORMS. Dear God, why!? Do employers have any idea how incredibly annoying and frustrating it is to read an interesting job spec only to see the line ‘in order to apply for this position we regret we are unable to accept CV’s. Please complete an application form’. Cue complete heart-sink. I wonder how many people don’t bother applying. Oooh, maybe that’s the idea?? Perhaps the very act of completing the form wheedles out the truly desperate from the only mildly interested.

The only thing more frustrating than seeing this line is completing the damn things with, yes you’ve guessed it, all the same bloody information from your CV. I may not have a job, but believe it or not, I do have better things to be doing with my time than copying and pasting (well actually I don’t, but that’s beside the point). Oh and at the pinnacle of application-form-induced-frustration are those forms designed and formatted in such a way as to specifically make it impossible to copy and paste the information into them. I am proud to say that at this stage I have yet to be deterred and have completed all my forms, including a particularly memorable one for which I even had to write a personal statement. The form allowed one whole A4 sheet for this and even said ‘continue on a separate sheet if necessary’. Seriously?? One would assume the point of an application form is to ensure you receive all the relevant information in as concise a way as possible? I guarantee my CV accomplishes that far better than any form I have completed thus far.

Lastly, I have a gripe with the whole concept of ‘Client Confidentiality’. To start with, I don’t really understand why employers don’t want agencies telling potential applicants who they are. The number of calls I’ve had from agencies that start with ‘I can’t tell you who my Client is but they are looking for… ‘. Why not? Are they ashamed to be looking for staff? The only time I can imagine this being a problem is if they are trying to recruit for a position currently held by someone that doesn’t yet know they are leaving! Which is illegal. And makes me suspicious. It ties in with the whole ‘doing ME a favour’ attitude too. Which yes, in a way they would be, but knowing who the Client is helps me make a far better judgement call on whether it’s a role I want to go for or not. Which is surely just as important? It also seems to completely contradict the whole ethos of proving to a potential employer that you don’t just want A job, you want THEIR job. If you are forced into simply blindly applying for roles that sound half interesting, you are very obviously after any old job.

In most cases though, it doesn’t create too much of a headache. When three agencies are instructed by a particular client however, and all three contact you about the role (which sounds suspiciously similar but which they are ‘unable’ to confirm is the same), it is positively migraine-inducing. After the first two had contacted me and I had an interview booked (yes, the one that was cancelled with an hour’s notice), agency number three emailed me. The exchange went something like this:

Recruiter: Could you contact me on XXXXX regarding a Customer Service Manager role in Oxfordshire with a salary of XXXX?

Me: Thank you, but if this is the role for XXXX (name of company), I have already had calls from two other agencies today.

Recruiter: I think there may be some confusion. We have been instructed by a new Client to recruit for a Customer Service Manager in the Oxfordshire area with a salary of XXXX. Please could you contact my on XXXX to discuss it further as it looks a great match to your skills?

Me: I’d be happy to, as long as you confirm that it is NOT the role for XXX (name of company).

Recruiter: Unfortunately I can’t confirm that due to Client Confidentiality but if you call me on XXX we can discuss it further.

Me: OK, well I am being interviewed for the role of Customer Service Manager for XXXX based in Oxfordshire and with a salary of XXXX on Thursday. If you still wish to talk to me on Friday, I will assume that this is a different role.

I have yet to hear from them. Pure insanity.

So anyway, a week down and I remain job-less but reasonably positive because I have done my very best to change that. I have registered with every agency known to man and there have been 25 jobs that I’ve found since I started working my notice that I’ve either applied for, had an agency call me about or, in two cases, turned down an interview for because they are too far away for me to travel. Out of those, some are full time, some are part time (which I’d possibly combine with being a mum) and one is actually voluntary. Not all of them are Customer Service Manager roles. Most I’m still awaiting responses on because the closing dates have not yet passed. I’ve even offered my services as a temp but there is a lack of even temp positions out there at the moment.

In the meantime, I have completed my online Job Seekers Allowance APPLICATION FORM and have my first appointment on Tuesday. The last line did make me chuckle…

job seekers pic

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