No this isn’t my office, you see I don’t have one at the moment. I am one of the many who people who are job hunting. Searching for the holy grail. The perfect job, which will allow me to live my life again and give me the things that I crave. Or even the sort of lifestyle that I used to have before three redundancies wreaked their havoc.
The competition is fierce and there are obstacles at every corner but I have a secret weapon. My determination and experience will send me in the right direction. I am eager to work, do not get me wrong, this is not a desperation which will allow me to make foolish choices, because this affects not only my future, but that of my family also.
I am going to share with you just an observation and just some of my experiences from one particular week alone, to highlight what we go through in the search for a rewarding career and also my point of view regarding the process.
I’ve been applying for the jobs that I would like to do and dealing with the various recruitment process hoops you have to jump through to get to the next level. There are definitely pitfalls when you are job hunting, hoping to find the next career to take you forward into your life and give you the security that you crave, to say nothing of the lifestyle. Although for some that still eludes us somewhat.
It is often said that first impressions last.
The other day I received a call from the Managing Director of a company I had applied to for a job. It was 20 miles from where I live so would involve a small commute to the city. I had plenty of experience in the three roles in one that he wanted to fill and it was in an industry that I would like to know more about and be a part of. Although the wages were less than in my last job I figured that since it was about what I wanted to do for a living and what I would like to get into, then I would apply anyway and suffer the drop for the right position and progression. It isn’t all about the money after all.
Application sent off, a couple of days later I received the call. “Hello Esther, you have applied for PA/Aftersales/Reception with us and we would like to discuss this further with you. Please give us a call on…”
At first I wasn’t sure if it was a scam call since he gave no further details. The caller did not leave his name, the company he was calling from, or where the job was. So I tried to research both the telephone number he had left and the separate number he had called me on. I couldn’t find any company details for them and it wasn’t on the contact details on my application receipts either. I called the number and when the receptionist answered it confirmed that it was a company I’d actually applied to. I explained the person had not left his name or number. She told me she “Did not know who’d called me, but she would ask them to call me back within the hour!” I silently wondered if she didn’t know, then who was she going to ask to call me back? Undeterred I asked if she could put me through to the person who was recruiting for this particular role, she said that she “didn’t know who that was and that they were all in meetings but I would get called back within an hour” I asked if she could give me the name of the person who she would give the message to so I could expect a call from him but she wouldn’t say. I logged the company name in the phone.
So it wasn’t a great start, but I would not give up in my quest for my next job.
An hour and a half later, at just before 5pm I called back and explained I had heard nothing from them, perhaps she would ask them to email me instead and gave my email address and telephone number again, she apologised and said I would receive a phone all within the hour. The cynic inside warned me that this was a well-worn phrase or possibly company policy. I decided I would go and walk the dog as the past hour and a half had already been wasted, if they rang back then I could reschedule a call if it was bad timing.
After lunch the next day the same number rang me again. It was the MD of the firm, who introduced himself and apologise for not calling me back the day before. We had a ten minute chat where he briefly told me about what he wanted and asked if any of that was a problem for me and asked me to tell him what work I had done previously. He explained he would like to invite me for an interview and we arranged a time and date. He would send me the details. Later that day an email arrived. “Further to a successful telephone interview I had been invited for a face to face interview” I laughed, that was a telephone interview, really? It wasn’t like any I’d had before and aren’t they suppose to be scheduled? Oh well!
Since their office is within a city I wondered about parking there and began to look online for local car parks, since he had been rather elusive I thought I would drop a quick email thanking him for the invitation and to ask if there was on-site parking at all. Obviously this would be something I would need to know if I was going to work there too and I waited for his response…. and waited. The weekend came and went and so did Monday. No response.
Tuesday was my interview day. I had a missed call from their number in the morning and no voicemail left. I called back and explained I had a missed call and the young lady on the end of the phone told me she didn’t know who called me or what it was about. I mentioned I was attending an interview that afternoon with the Director so perhaps he had tried to call me. The MD was in a meeting, so I took the opportunity to ask if there was any parking on-site. She replied that she “wasn’t on-site so she didn’t know” but would ask “them” to call me.
I checked my emails before leaving for the interview in case I’d received the info I’d requested but there was nothing. On arriving there was no sign of available parking despite there being a car park behind the building, it was all allocated for other companies. It’s a good job I had left in good time and had 45 minutes to spare. I drove around and found a spot to park and walked back around the corner and crossed a small courtyard towards a period Tudor style property. Pressing the broken intercom I waited. A window opened and a man poked his head out and explained he’d let me in.
Another man appeared and I asked to use the bathroom before my interview, I was early he said to come upstairs when I was ready. The ladies toilet area did not bode well. It was an old building and so you don’t expect it to be pristine. However, the toilet seat was not only cracked but broken as were the fittings. Goodness knows when it was past cleaned in there. It was unhygienic and in need of repair. I washed my hands and noticed there were two towels, one dumped on the side and covered in what looked like foundation or possibly it had been used to stem the flow on a rusty pipe. It was streaked orange. The other hung over the radiator and smelled of sweat. The sink and taps were grimy and there was a tea stained teaspoon sitting on top of a rancid old pot scoured on the sink.
I tried to reserve judgement and remain positive, but I have worked in places like this before.
I went upstairs and smiled and said Hello to the other staff as I walked through their office. This was met with scowls from almost all of them. As I was shown through to the man who had opened the window. He introduced himself and it was not the man I’d spoken with in my “telephone interview” so he asked me to take a seat and “tell me about myself” It took me a moment to gather my composure and the door to the office was left ajar so the noisy conversation the other side of the door could be heard, as could everything I said.
I asked midway through whether I should assume that this was a preliminary interview and that I would have another if successful, he said yes. I said that this had not been explained to me. It was only then that he told me the MD had been called away and asked him to take the interview. I mentioned that morning’s missed call and said that perhaps that was the reason for it but that since no voicemail was left I wasn’t sure. He told me that the MD was totally disorganised. The interview was short. Mainly my asking about how the business runs and how the role would be split time wise and about growth and future prospects. I was back outside in my car less than 25 minutes from when I’d knocked at the door.
Now, I’m all for doing what you need to get a job but so far the experience screamed unprofessional and although I have worked in such places and turned them around previously. I am not going to give it the benefit of the doubt and I am going to follow my gut instinct on this one.
I arrived home and called the number on an email for an audio recruitment question. It is the second time I have had to do this recently. I am not enamoured by this process. You are given an inordinately short time to give your details and answer the question coherently advising the recruiter how you shine in a millisecond. Not quite but you get the picture. Yesterday it was 60 seconds to explain a problem you had on a particularly stressful day and how you dealt with it. I had written my response and rehearsed it to 45 seconds. I called the number, you have to leave your name and email address too in that time. It was achievable. So it was frustrating when at 45 seconds into the call (including the pre-recorded message with instructions) an engaged tone kicked in and the phone went dead. I called back. By which time I was hopeful it would work I spoke a little quickly as I left my message, the line was silent. No option to re-record if you made a mistake or save it. No message to say if it had registered at all. I wondered if it had.
I checked my emails since the last audio recruitment had sent a confirmation afterwards, but there was nothing. I still had time. I called back and tried again. Half way through the line went dead again.
To say I am determined is understatement. I decided to send an email explaining the situation and an invitation for them to call and speak to me at any time and I would be happy to relay my 45 second answer to them as I would like to work for their company but that they might wish to review their automated system slightly.
I don’t know if I will hear from either of these companies again. A lot of time is spent on what we the job hunter should be doing in the interview process. How we should behave and on getting that job. The onus is on us to do everything we can to succeed in our goal. It does not seem to be required that the employers have to make an effort any more. Wages have dropped dramatically over the past years and have yet to climb back to their previous level. Demand often outstrips supply for a good job. Loyalty is expected but job security now seems non-existent.
With just a little more thought and effort they could provide a healthy workplace, happy clients and a dedicated and rewarding team and that is the sort of company I want to be a part of, have a career with and would happily work my socks off for. It doesn’t have to be 24/7 fun, after all there’s a job to do. But fun should be encouraged as well along the growth and training. It doesn’t matter what the industry is. Surely those places exist and I would like to find one.