Just for clarity can I start this post by stating that I absolutely love my job. I don’t want my current colleagues to think that this post in any way reflects any negativity towards my current employer – it really doesn’t, they are fab. The fact is, that my current role doesn’t pay all my bills and is only funded for 12 months, 9 months in I have no choice but to look for the next opportunity. The thought of being without a wage terrifies me. Not sure why really, I would be better off on benefits, but all the women in my family worked and worked hard, I feel I would be letting the side down to be NEET. Plus I am very skilled and want to utilise those skills and be useful to society.
The job market is a demoralising place to hang out. Most of the roles that I think I would be good at, I’m not eligible for because I’m not a clinician (despite knowing A LOT about dementia). Most academic jobs would require me to move, almost all have limited funding so are not permanent but fixed term, usually 12-24 months. I’m good at getting interviews but not good at self-promotion so tend to bomb out at the final hurdle. At least one job I suspect I didn’t get because I’m 50 – how do you even prove ageism in that situation? Anyhow, I’m not having a good time engaging with this stuff.
I’ve set myself up on loads of job seeking apps. You put all your details in and they send you jobs which meet your skills set. My arse. I had a notification the other day that one of these agencies had found my perfect job – welder. What? How exactly does a first-class honours degree in psychology and a PhD in dementia care meet the criteria for welder? Mostly they are allied health professions like OT, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, nurse and a million other things I’m not eligible to apply for.
My initial approach was to only apply for jobs that I think I can 100% do. Men don’t do this by the way, men apply for any job where 50% of the requirements meet their skill set so I decided to be more like man and apply for jobs where I thought I met 80%-90% of the requirements – I’m still working on the be more man approach.
Job hunting is an unbelievably dull and time-consuming process especially if you already have a job. Evening after evening, weekend after weekend trawling through what appears to be your dream job until you get to the last bloody sentence of the job ad where is states ‘must be an RMN’, or ‘must have PRINCE 2 qualification’ or ‘must be HCPC registered’. I’m none of these things so I swipe left, keep calm and carry on. If you are lucky enough to find a job which meets your skill set and you are really interested in (there have been about 4 such jobs since I graduated none of them permanent) you have to set about applying. Almost certainly these posts won’t be anywhere near where you live, have friends and family, kids in school/college, have partner who has roots, near your elderly mother, so you first google how much it will cost you to commute. This will probably be about 23% of your annual salary so you knock that off and convince yourself it will still be worth it (even though you could earn more working in Tesco). You hope that you will be able to cut yourself a better deal if you get offered, a couple of days working from home maybe (which obviously means working much longer hours than if you went to the office because you wouldn’t want anyone thinking you were skiving), plus you write better on trains and being mostly insomniac getting up super early to commute will be a breeze. Try not to think about who will care for Wonder Boy while you are pushing 12 hour days.
You think you will apply, not with any serious intent, you’ve long since realised that getting an interview is a major milestone in itself, probably worth a mention on your CV in fact. You apply for the experience. This ‘experience’ is a myriad of different forms. No two applications are the same. You spend a couple of hours a day wading through question after question trying to map your answers to the job ad, person spec and trying not to sound really bloody desperate. It takes me a week or so to be happy with my offering.
You hear back if you have been shortlisted, you get nothing if you don’t. Again, back in my day you would have a nice letter saying thank you for applying unfortunately you have not been shortlisted, sometimes with some really good feedback about how you can improve. Not so now, there are hundreds applying for every job so you just get on with your life and hope for the best.
About three months ago I got a phone call from someone saying that I was expected for an interview that day and they were wondering where I was. I had applied for the job about four months previously – so long ago in fact I had no idea what the post was because I assumed I hadn’t been shortlisted. Their HR system had had a malfunction and had forgotten to notify candidates. They rescheduled the interviews. I didn’t get the job.
I’m now broadening my search. I’m going to write to Kylie Minogue to see if she needs a body double – we are the same age and height (I’ll gloss over that there the similarity ends), I might apply for The Apprentice because I am much more capable than any of those numpties they get on there, I’m buying a lottery ticket when I can afford it and I might have to seek employment in the *said with hushed whisper*corporate sector.
I hope this blog goes some way of explaining to my family why I haven’t just got a ‘proper’ job. I am trying. I’m sure I’ll hear back from Kylie soon 🙂