Where The Hell Did My Job Go?


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'Make sure you always give yourself time for that afternoon down at the pub'

'It was worth reading even by under employed Americans'

'As one fellow job-seeker to another, hang in there'

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'Is it making money yet?'





Taking redundancy personally.

Friday, March 14, 2003
No Jobs Shortage for Women

An article that initially appeared to be about skills shortages soon turns into a terrible rehash of the tired no women want to work in IT with nerdy blokes for colleagues.

Ann Swain seems to find that there is an IT skills shortage in this country. If only she’d told me earlier I wouldn’t have spent the last 5 months looking for work!

The answer to the apparent skills shortage is of course to hire women. She states that if you were to ask a woman to characterise a typical IT professional, she would describe “a young man with excess facial hair, sitting behind a computer all day munching pizza and guzzling Coke.” Admittedly, Ann then goes on to explain that this is not the case. Thanks Ann. You’ve saved yourself there, but why would anyone in IT consider hiring a woman who had the pizza eating coke monster vision in her mind? This person would clearly be out of touch with the real world. Are you suggesting that these same women should be considered? I know many women who were made redundant at the same time as me who have IT experience and they cannot find work. What chance would someone else have?

Ann also quotes that less than 10% of senior programmers in the UK are women which gives a typically skewed figure for employment. The role of IT comprises so many more roles than programming, perhaps Ann doesn’t realise this.

I’ve worked with female senior programmers, senior testers, senior technical authors and senior product managers. All of whom are currently looking for work in IT as a result of redundancy, all of whom are more than partial to a pizza and coke fest.

Thursday, March 13, 2003
Dress Down Every Day

As if the Job Centre wasn’t having enough problems choosing a new colour scheme in their upgrading to JobCentrePlus, their staff are revolting, and that’s just the clothes they wear!

Matthew Thompson is claiming a ‘victory for common sense’ in his tribunal with the Department for Work and Pensions. When the DWP took over the running of Employment Office, now JobCentrePlus, in June last year, they imposed a new dress code. This resulted in men being required to wear a collar and tie and women able to wear t-shirts. Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union general secretary, said "The application of the dress code was clearly discriminatory and we welcome the tribunal's decision. It should never have been introduced in the first place.”

The response from DWP was that they consider the dress code to be an important part of their improved service. Which doesn’t explain why the rules were different for men and women.

In my last employment, I was required to wear ‘smart business dress’ which translated to collar and tie for men, and frankly anything except gym clothes for women. I’ve never felt that my performance is enhanced my wearing a suit, nor that it would be impaired by being smart casual in the office.

As most people experience, the air conditioning in our building caused further problems as we were required to have various garments in the office ready to counteract the varied temperatures the air con would create. Smart business dress often extended to jumpers, scarves and gloves.

There is nothing quite as professional as someone fumbling the phone receiver with their gloves before speaking in muffled tones through their scarf.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Unemployed, by appointment only

Another Wednesday, another trip to the still unfinished JobCentrePlus. Next time I attend, it will be a whole new experience!

Rather than spending three minutes with me, in which time they locate my file, ask me to sign, and thank me for attending, they will spend a whole 10 minutes! This will give them time to discuss my jobsearch activities and discuss other routes to finding work. Whilst I am appreciative of their assistance, I have my reservations.

I used to queue for an hour to attend within my allotted half hour slot. (This involved taking a ticket a la supermarket delicatessen counter). I now have an exact appointment time for the specified 10 minutes. As my previous appointment would average three minutes, they are going to spend three times as long with each job seeker. This would imply that they have three times as many advisors working for them now, and I don’t remember seeing any such jobs advertised! Hopefully, it doesn’t mean that the waiting time will increase to three hours, unless they are going to pay an hourly rate for attending!

The extra focus on job searching would also imply that all staff have recently undergone a period of training to make best use of the Jobseekers appointment time. While I’m sure that they will use the extra 7 minutes to their full effect, I spend the majority of the week on my job search, and I’m not sure that this time is going to help me focus any better. I fully except the seven minutes to be equally divided between explaining my situation and finding that there are no suitable vacancies.

I already know that the work I am looking for is generally not advertised via the JobCentre even if it has been upgraded to Plus. For now, I’ll remain open minded and hope that the main change I see isn’t the transformation from a yellow colour scheme to green.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Hi to the visitor who found the site by typing “I am fed up with my job” at Yahoo UK. Jen is out of work and is not missing it for a minute. Get the job and then spend it all on their toys.

Questionable Spending

As a recipient of £53.95 a week under the Jobseekers Allowance scheme I find myself noticing extreme wastes of money more frequently.

I continue to question the justifications behind the firefighters request for a 40% pay rise. I am not convinced that their job warrants such an increase and their union leader Andy Gilchrist is doing very little to convince. Although I’m sure my opinion could be swayed over an £800 curry at the Cinnamon Club. In fact, he could probably stretch to feeding me, my fellow job seekers and JobCentre’Plus’ staff.

Andy’s spending would seem sensible, if not appropriate, in light of the fact that Carey Young is shortlisted to win a £20,000 prize from Becks Futures for producing a piece of art whose very ‘essence’ is that no one will ever see it! There is apparently something artistic, although I can only see farcical, about the display of a non-disclosure agreement detailing the unseen artwork. It smacks of being paid to not turn up at work on your first day.

But the last straw comes from Jack Straw with his war chest of £1.75bn. I’m sure there are plenty of people would could find a better use for it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003
Ever Changing CVs

When I was updating my CV for the first time in 6 years, little did I realise that it would be out of date 4 months later.

I already have 3 versions of my CV depending on which job type I am applying for. Each of these versions may then be tweaked to highlight the skills relevant to the position on offer.

Now that I am broadening my job search out to further horizons I am required to create another batch of CV’s that indicate I am willing, indeed keen, to relocate and providing more information about where previous jobs were.

I am also finding that the jobs I am prepared to apply for are less in line with my previous experience. I have been trying to correlate a simple administration job with a technical CV. This has lead to a further rewrite where I am breaking down all my skills to their most basic level. Sections such as training skills, presentation skills and writing skills would have had no place on my CV 4 months ago, but now might be the key to my transition from unemployed to employed.

I have also posted my CV’s on my web site so that they may be seen by a wider audience. It was not long until one visitor pointed out that whilst these CV’s are OK for sending direct to a interested client they were not suitable for the wider speculative audience. The advice given was to prepare one short version offering a summary of my experience, with a longer version offering a more detailed list of achievements and qualifications.

That will create a total of 10 basic versions to cater for the various positions and locations I am applying for as well as the situations where I am hoping that someone will contact me.

The Londoners Job Fair is on today and tomorrow at the New Connaught Rooms, Great Queen St, London WC2 (off Kingsway, Holborn) It is open from 11am until 7pm and entrance is free. They advise smart dress in case of interview and a batch of CV’s to give to prospective employers.

Friday, February 28, 2003
WARNING: None of these links will help you find work.
Use them wisely.

If you’ve recently been made redundant and are unsure what to do next Ask Your Ass or visit Laid Off Central. Jen is doing everything right as she’s been voted Unemployee of the Month. Learn from the experiences of Unemployed Theo and compare it with Jessica’s. Consider applying for a Bum Card and then rethink your covering letter. Get your business card noticed. Take a break, it's the weekend.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Guide Dogs Petition Against Unemployment

I miss commuting so much that I spent a couple of hours a day playing Gridlock. I then fill the day with pointless exercises, or networking as I prefer to call it. If anyone can contribute to this game of Alphabetti Bloghetti, please mention this site!

Once again my trip to the Job Centre was surprisingly quick as:
a) they never check whether you’re applying for work!
b) the current refurbishment has made them more efficient
I was also informed that after the refurbishment, they are implementing a new system. Warning bells are sounding. You already know that it probably involves them making staff cuts which means that I’ll be back to spending over an hour in there achieving very little. Is the name change to JobCentrePlus really going to fool anyone?

But at least I’m not trying to find work in Alabama, where a dispute over CD’s and money resulted in 4 dead. Their unemployment rates have never been so low! One report proves that cheap imports are proving lifesaving for Americans.

Graham Norton is buying a ghost town on ebay, think of the employment possibilities. In not so glamourous Newbury, there are a huge amount of vacancies at Vodafone.

Typical! Just when I finally find details on how to be an autopyrotechnician they attempt to outlaw fireworks. This seems to be caused by the ready availability of louder fireworks used at weddings and such festivals as Diwali and Eid. If I’ve understood it properly, 75,000 guide dogs have put their pawprint on the petition, with each guide dog earning up to £35,000 you can understand their upset. Why not help their cause.

Jobz Blitz:
New Performance stats from Rolls Royce: 1,100-0 in 3 years. Not singing for their supper. Buzz off. Losing the Abbey habit.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Unemployed on the Streets Initiative

The Job Centre is now appearing in a kiosk on a high street near you! Is this a cynical ploy by the Government to get the unemployed used to life on the streets? Here I was thinking that looking for work is a full time job when I can be doing it while waiting for a bus.

If you’re lucky enough to unemployed and living in Bath, Blackpool, Bristol, Bromley, Knowsley, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading, Swindon, Suffolk or Sutton, then you’ll probably be out shopping anyway!! We all know that Jobseekers Allowance is free money and anyway, there’s a 3 for 2 on at HMV.

An alternative approach to the job/shopping recruitment drive is offered at the Bullring where 8,000 jobs are being created. Read their top ten tips for your interview making sure you don’t arrive too early, they may not have finished building it.

Don’t feel down - Christian Sandler advises us to "look forward" to the next 12 months.

When there’s no more jobs, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Jobsbuster!

Do I spot an opening for an Employee Retention Specialist to retain Customer Retention Specialists?

Monday, February 24, 2003
Unemployment Lethargy
Rather than spending much of my time visiting job web sites and using their search functions I’ve finally subscribed to the email service of many of them. This way I get an email per search from each site. Some of them have a limitation on the number of searches you can store so you may need to use a complex query to get the best results.

I’m certainly not spending as much time trawling sites and weeding out inappropriate jobs. But perhaps that’s just because I can’t be bothered. I must register www.unemploymentlethargy.com.

I thought Blue Arrow was a courier service, but I’ve re-discovered them as a recruitment agency. I didn’t find any promising jobs, but I’ll definitely be using their Tea Maker when I get a new job.

What’s the point of finding a job if I can’t even have the odd afternoon down the pub?

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

A further indicator of the downturn in the economy is dished up by Reuters as they announce 3,000 job cuts leading up to 2005. This is on top of the 3,200 over the past two years. The company is facing increasing competition in it’s main markets. Their main rival is Bloomberg, but they are facing competition from my ex-employer Thomson Financial. My redundancy was caused by a re-alignment within Thomson as they went after the “big two” of Reuters and Bloomberg. I don’t take this announcement to mean that Thomson and Bloomberg are winning, only that there will be more consolidation (redundancies!) within the market. Perhaps Reuters just need to spend more time concentrating on the real news.

Perhaps it’s an omen that the Reuters redundancies come on the same day that Asda announces an expansion plan!

Listening to the radio, the discussion was about exporting jobs as more call centres are opened in India. Reading the newspaper, the article said that we are importing foreign workers to staff the NHS. It’s no wonder I can’t find a job.

Does the Job Centre really need to use a recruitment agency to hire staff?

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Yes, I’ve been spending quality time with the web site. I’ve worked through a backlog of emails of support from visitors. It’s great to have the encouragement of strangers. Thank you.

With the result that I’ve not been job seeking as much as I probably should have. But this investment of time in myself seems so much more valuable than ploughing through countless job sites. There has to be a point at which the amount of time spent job hunting becomes wasted. As they would do in Sex and the City… Am I less likely to find a job by looking?

Each hour spent fruitlessly looking for a suitable vacancy is another hour not spent on developing a new skill to add to my CV. If I’ve not found a job with these skills in the last 3 months, why should it appear today?

As part of the new links from new found bloggers, selected excerpts on the frustration of job seeking courtesy of Jon Baas and Emily Hanson.

If you’re fed up with being rejected by employers then why not reject the economy?

Monday, February 17, 2003

No doubt Ken is regretting not introducing the congestion charge a couple of days earlier to profit from the 1 million people flocking to central London for the war protest. He could have made a bomb! And hidden it. Although he would probably have been caught on one of his 688 cameras. Big Brother is never far away!

Remember that under the Data Protection Act you may request the footage of yourself on any camera you think you may have appeared. (This information courtesy of the now apparently defunct Mark Thomas Product).

A couple of good articles in the Guardian. Been laid off? Don't take it lying down got me thinking about how little Jobseekers Allowance I will receive in comparison to the 6 years of National Insurance payments I have made. I was shocked when the article reminded me that I will only receive JSA for 26 weeks. Paid fortnightly at £107.90 this only comes to £1402.97 when my NI payments have been…. somewhat higher than that (per year!) Licence to skill seems to imply that as I am literate and can communicate I am way ahead of the competition. Unles I red wrong.

And finally, a thank you to the HR Advisor from the Post Office who wrote to me for a second time to re-iterate their non-interest in employing me! There’s nothing quite like a kick when you’re down.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

WOW! What a day!

I received a great email from Emma who found this site useful as she is also unemployed and has been for 10 months. It’s really heartwarming to know that the site is serving as therapy to others.

Emma also mentioned that she found my site listed on the Blogger home page. Which is just success beyond belief! Blogger is seen by thousands of people every day and my site is listed right there under Blogs of Note. I still can’t quite believe it! Hello all you fellow Bloggers!

I’ve spent time today updating the ever changing poetry site Scribbling Rivalry Press, is the Valentine’s Page where you can send a Valentine’s poem to the one you love.

At the close of business tonight I finally heard the result of last weeks interview. And it was not good news, unfortunately. The quick assessment from the agency was: Personality OK, Technical skills, Not. But that’s OK right? I work in IT where the majority of the job involves explaining a missed deadline to a client and to do that you need people skills not technical skills!

Much disappointment. Back to square one, or very close to it. It’s a good job I’ve got a holiday planned…

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Delving deeper on the IT Job Board revealed a ton of tutorials on a huge range of subjects from Web Marketing to Active Listening. Browse the whole list.

NamesFacesPlaces linked from cwjobs.co.uk has a lot of interesting editorial, but requires you to register (free) before viewing it.

Reading in the Evening Standard last night that a predicted 15,000(!) jobs will be shed from City institutions alone in 2003, my optimism took a turn for the worse. I realise how fortunate I was when they detail that under statutory redundancy rules the maximum weekly amount for each year of service is £250. Although the very lucky ones who receive a huge redundancy cheque will only be taxed for over £30,000.

They then advise you to shop for cheap food and services, tell your bank manager, remortgage your property and rent out a room, stop your pensions payments but not your critical illness cover, claim Jobseekers Allowance and thank the day you took out MPPI.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Exhausted Cambridge recruiting sites today as the area is on the up.

Also discovered a wealth of Crystal Reports sites including one that was kind enough to display it’s client list so that I can now trawl their sites for vacancies.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Blimey! A weekend posting!

Something important must have happened! Forget the real news. WAGN Railways have finally issued my refund cheque. Although of course I won’t get too excited until I’ve cashed it!

Friday, January 31, 2003

What a day! Fortunately I wasn’t stuck on the M11 and made it to the interview on time, albeit somewhat frosty. Unfortunately, my 10.30 arrival was 2 and half hours earlier than they expected. All my careful swotting and planning for what was in no doubt a very important meeting was soon thrown into disarray, as they tried to find out who was free to interview me. Within an hour I had seen and been grilled by 5 people, only to be told that I would have to wait until the middle of next week for the result, not later this afternoon, as I had previously been told! Aaaargh!

The best pre-interview advice I received was to ask each person who interviews you if they have any reservations about answers you have given. This gives you and them a second chance to clear any misunderstanding.

When I asked, it added another 5 minutes to the interview and I believe that the answers given then may have been the ‘make or break’ point of the interview.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

I’m still taking the advice that the public sector is the only place with any money, I’ve found another couple of websites that specialise in public sector recruitment, Opportunites which didn’t have any for me and JobsGoPublic which isn’t as Thunderbirds as it sounds.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Thankfully they were refurbishing Job Centre today and had even less of a reason to care about my job search. I was out of there in under 10 minutes. Hopefully, that will still be the case in a fortnight.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Swotting for the interview on Friday. I’ve never really been to nervous about interviews as I always seem to do OK. For this one though, I think I owe it to them to be slightly nervous.

I’d rather be at the Penguin Parade.

Monday, January 27, 2003

There seems to be something about Friday afternoon’s at the moment. Like last week, things had been pretty quiet until a barrage of calls late on Friday.

One series of calls has resulted in an interview for a 6 month contract using Crystal Reports. And I can say no more or the agency will do me untold damage. The other resulted in a maybe for a job where the money isn’t right, but they may be prepared to stretch the budget a little bit further. That’s two in the pipeline, which is bringing January to a nice close.

In order to further develop my technical skills, today has seen me take receipt of XML in 24 Hours and UML Outlines, as well as finally managing to install Apache to host some web sites.


Thursday, January 23, 2003

A date for my diary arrived in this morning’s post. Not the expected wedding invite, but a missive from the Jobcentre. April 10 2003 is payrise day for everyone on Jobseekers Allowance. A huge increase of 70 pence to £54.65 a week. If you’ve got a suggestion on how I should best use my 70p, please let me know.

Lesson of the day: Include everything on your CV! No matter how irrelevant it seems. You don’t know who your future employer is, let alone what they are looking for. This lesson was learnt as I received a call from an agency to say that they thought my experience as a Bank Clerk would be useful for a position they had. I was quick to bring to their attention my GCSE in Accounting. Surely this position had my name written all over it. Only time will tell.

Shock news for suburbia that Tupperware are no longer operating in the UK. With helpful party advice such as ‘Arrange a date and time for your party’ and themes such as ‘Organising your kitchen cupboards’ and ‘Saving money with Tupperware’, it’s hard to believe the party is over.

Although the web site seems to be in denial.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003
I had a great night last week ‘networking’ at A Ha Ha Ha comedy club in Soho. We were there to watch Alex Musson, a friend of a friend (the network expands!) With third billing he was one of the highlights of the night – and not just because he delivered the phrase ‘spontaneous lesbianisation’. Being jealous of his wit, I decided to look at his website which was bound to be rubbish. It isn’t. A professional web designer, I bet his CV isn’t very good. It is. At least he doesn’t donate any proceeds from his comedy magazine to charity. He does.

Drifting from the MSN Careers page, I find the CV Test and am disappointed that I only get ‘51% - 75% Good, but room for improvement’. So I took them up on the offer for a free CV review and look forward to receiving their advice.

I’m assuming that this Who’s Hiring page gets updated regularly.

A professional service at a knockdown price? I wonder if they give a discount for the unemployed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Whilst looking on the BBC jobs site I briefly considered a career as a Taxonomist, although the dictionary definition didn’t sound as much fun.

The MSN Careers site seems to offer much but needs more investigation.

When one job required me to be a member of the ISTC I had to check the entry qualifications. It appears that it only requires £50 to be a Professional Communicator. I sending fifties quid soon.

And of course I wondered which other professional bodies would be proud to be associated with me for a nominal fee. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals will have me for £28, the Institute of Professional Sales will consider my experience for £45 or the Royal Geographical Society will accept me for £30.

We finally have Scribbling Rivalry Press up and running. Go there now and buy a copy of Hobnobbing.

Friday, January 17, 2003
As my eBay empire expands to nearly one sale a week(!), I found myself trudging to the local post office to send off another book to another lucky customer. On my return I was faced with that classic dilemma – to walk or to help?

On spotting across the road, a man laid on the ground and a woman talking on her mobile, I thought I would at least offer assistance rather than ignore them and go home. It’s not as though I had anything to be doing.

She had seen the man have a fit and fall to the ground and had called the ambulance. All we could do was keep an eye on him, in case he had another seizure.

You will of course recognise this, as I did, as a great networking opportunity! I’d soon managed to turn the conversation around to my being unemployed and where did she work? A housing association. I had to tell her about my application for a job with Network Housing Association. She’d heard of them. Did she know about the Context system? Yes she did. Great. Could she get me some information about it to prepare me for a possible interview? Yes, she’d text me the company name. I gave her my number and said cheerio. About an hour later the text arrived and I found a wealth of information on their web site. Success. Just hope I get an interview now.

What can we learn from all this?
1)The London Ambulance provide an excellent service (they were there within 10 minutes).
2)You never know who you’re going to meet or where, every conversation could lead on to something useful for your jobhunt.
The conflicting advice must be “ensure that the airway is clear” and “never look a gifthorse in the mouth”.

Thursday, January 16, 2003
And then my prayers were answered! Success! It was as easy as opening a envelope.

The letter began “I was amazed when I saw how much money ca me flooding through my letterbox….” It continued “I turned £87 into £43,540 within the first 60 days of operating this business plan. If you decide to take action on the following instructions, I will personally GUARANTEE that you will enjoy a similar return!”

That guarantee comes from the author, David Rhodes of Norfolk. His life was transformed when he was made redundant in 1987 and transformed again when he followed this ‘plan’. Call me cynical, but when David fails to leave any contact details his guarantee seems somewhat…redundant.

For those that don’t know, this chain letter scheme would have me send £10 to each of the six named people in the letter. I would also send a copy of the letter I received to 200(!) other people who would in turn each send me £10. And so it blossoms as the letter circulates and the money constantly pours in through my letterbox.

I could only help wonder about the six people listed on my letter who are involved in this scheme. Are they rich? Are they stupid? Do they have 4096 tenners in shoe box under their bed? Are they sixty quid lighter than they were before they received this chain letter?

If you’re one of the six people and you’d like to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.
A Morton, 42 Heather Road, Brakenwood, Bebington, Wirral, CH63 2PD
G Curzon, 81 Trueway Drive, South Shephed, LE12 9DY
S A Worden, 51 Holmesdale Road, London N6
J Edwards, 6 Jobs Lane, Tile Hill, Coventry CV4 9EE
J Barrand, 78 Hammond Way, Market Harborough LE16 9DY
A Arrowsmith, 111 Rosslyn Ave, Coundon, Coventry CV6 1GL.

Are you the same Mr Curzon that taught me GCSE Maths? And I’d particularly like to know why A Arrowsmith decided I was lucky enough to receive this chain letter?

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Halfway through January already! And still no job. Damn the economy!

Today is my first trip to the job centre of 2003, and it may be one of many. £53.95 isn’t a lot of money. £215.80 a month isn’t a lot of money. But you’d still be stupid to refuse it. And stupid is how I feel writing in my job log book that I’ve managed to make the required two job applications a week. So far this week, I’ve applied for 12.

The open plan job centre makes way for a sea of people collecting money. Once I’ve taken my ticket from the deli-counter style machine. It’s only a 45 minute wait by which time I’ve missed my half hour attendance slot through no fault of my own. Not that it really matters apparently. The person I hand my log book to (probably called an Unemployment Executive) doesn’t even bother to read it. I could have written my jobseeking skills as drinking tea and watching bid-up tv and she wouldn’t have known. I can now look forward to getting my money into my account. None of this old fashioned collecting the giro from the post office.

I feel reassured that the Jobseeker Direct scheme finds jobs for 2500 people a week. With the current unemployment rates at 928,300, I should be employed within 371 weeks or just over 7 years! All the more shocking when unemployent is at a 27 year low. How lucky I am to be made redundant at this easy time!

Monday, January 13, 2003

It never rains but it pours. When you’re redundant and are ‘lucky’ enough to own a car it seems that the downpour is torrential. OK, it’s only been a new battery, a new clutch cylinder and now a new tyre, in the three months since being made redundant. It all adds up when you’re trying to limit yourself to the expense of one daily travelcard a week, especially when they’ve gone up ten pence!

The cost of all these car parts will however be covered by the cheque shortly to arrive from WAGN for the refund of my season ticket. As anyone who has travelled with WAGN will know, the word ‘Delayed’ seems to be part of their Customer Charter. I’ve calculated that in six years of taking my short commute into Liverpool Street, I’ve spent more time on the platform than I have on the train!

It was enough hard work trying to obtain the Refund Application Form in the first place. After a paperchase involving two forms and three stations I was assured that my refund was being processed. It was some six weeks later before they assured me that my refund was definitely lost! I have been re-assured that someone is looking into my claim, although they’re not sure who. When I check the morning post, I am disappointed by WAGN on a daily basis, but at least it happens within the comfort of my home and not an a windswept suburban platform.

After making a couple of follow up phone calls to agencies to find people ‘on the other line’ or ‘at lunch’ I quickly lose my patience with agencies and return to old fashioned job hunting methods.

It’s been some time since I’ve filled in an application form and it was with some regret that I did. I thought I had progressed to the big grown up world of CV’s and covering letters, proving myself to be employable by communicating in my own style. Not so with an application form. I felt like I was sixteen years old again and applying for my first job. It was everything I could do to not list Scouts as a hobby.

Once the form was complete it was time for some pro-active job hunting. As part of building up the Top 100 companies list I would visit corporate sites and check under their Jobs/Careers section. It’s surprising how many companies advertise this way (although whether they advertise elsewhere too I don’t know.)

After site number ten, I’ve seen, again, lots of unsuitable vacancies. I’ve also built up a list of site to check back on in the future!

Thursday, January 09, 2003

The job hunt really began today! I can’t remember how I came across JobStats but it’s a great site which gives you a snapshot of the current state of the IT job market showing the demand for each skill. It shows (unfortunately) the steady decline for IT vacancies over the last 12 months. Not the most inspiring news, but sometimes it’s better to know the truth!

JobStats then links to Jobserve to display the vacancies for your chosen skill. Very soon I had built a list of 10 jobs that looked suitable using Crystal Reports and Winrunner as criteria. Unsurprisingly, the remainder of the day was spent writing covering letters to highlight my skills as in their advert. I’ve not had much advice in the way of writing covering letters. Perhaps I should hunt some out. I’ve taken plenty of advice about my CV’s and am quite happy with them.

By the end of the day I had one agency call me for more details and they are putting my CV forward to their client. I should hear something by next week. A good start to the New Year!

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

It seems that I am only suitable for three of the five shortlisted jobs from yesterday. Don’t know what I was thinking of…

For the other three it’s just a case of rewording the advert so that it looks like a covering letter. It’s important that the letter has the main points of the advert so the job agency can quickly read it and see that I am a suitable candidate. It’s then important that key phrases from the advert are included in my CV as the covering letter will never get as far as the client who would like to interview me, if only she knew it!

Without biting the hand that might possibly feed me. Some of the agencies are not the brightest bunnies in the employed world. If they cannot see the same phrases in your CV as they placed in the advert, you are no longer a candidate. Your database programming skills will be overlooked if they require RDBMS knowledge. As will your team leading if they are looking for mentoring. These people are not all knowing experts in their field. The majority of the time, they are people like me and you who just ended up in a job by accident, perhaps even because they were made redundant.

A case in point this morning as I began to apply for the second job on the shortlist when I realised that the job advert was very similar, hang on a minute, identical to the first one. Both technical author roles. Both listed by different agencies. One based in Cambridge. One based in London. The chances of two different jobs having identical requirements in slim. The chances of a Recruitment Executive still feeling lazy after the new year celebrations is more likely. Perhaps my CV will strike a chord and I’ll be given the chance to enquire further over the next couple of days.

Killing time and money on Amazon I accidentally came across the jobs section. With a total of 15 jobs listed at their head office in Slough, they certainly warrant being included on my Top 100 list. In fact, at the moment, they are the only entry. There was only one position of interest to me, but more of that tomorrow.

I managed to fire new year emails off to about 7 people this afternoon. I’m still in touch with some of the people I used to work with before being made redundant – some of them also redundant and some still employed. Ensuring that I remain in contact with as many people as possible is important as being at home robs you of workplace chatter and office gossip. Also, at the back of my mind is the statistic that 30% of jobs are found through word of mouth. A very scary statistic when you have a small group of friends who work in your field.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
The job hunt begins in earnest by avoiding looking for work in the hope that I could pounce on it this afternoon.

Spent time tweaking a graphic and looking at the admin functions of CFM who are hosting Scribbling Rivalry Press.

Looking at Blogger.com as somewhere to host this journal. It looks as though I also need to find somewhere to host the site if I want to do more than host a simple blog. Although I could be wrong, that will become apparent over the next couple of days.

The peddlers in Laos seem to be working hard enough to keep the Jhai Foundation web site up. A great idea started by a veteran's conscience putting into place a huge community project of which the Remote IT initiative is only a part. They readily accept donations via PayPal - it's so easy it's rude not to! If you would like more information before donating, please read this article at Digital Dividend.

However, another weblog site that I was keen to have another look at, took it's turn to be offline. Has Graham Dell taken to a pedal powered server too?

As the job hunt finally began I was ready to pounce on all those choice vacancies still sleeping from the season's festivities. And there were a surprisingly high number of them. From a couple of hours trawling, there is a shortlist of 5 waiting for me to do something with them tomorrow (I know I should have done them today but things just snowballed! - I spent too long looking for more vacancies and there were none!)

Having spent time looking at public sector jobs on the advice of a CEO withing IT that only these organisations are recruiting (an overstated comment but there is enough truth contained within), I came across NetAid. The site pairs off small organisations that need assistance with IT projects and individuals with the necessary skills and time. While I'm not sure that it's right for me at the moment, I'll bear it in mind if my ability to remain unemployed continues and I get itchy fingers. Until then, the job hunt must get more of my attention which is why this must end so abruptly.

Monday, January 06, 2003
Not so much a new years resolution as a process to extract some substance from the whole redundancy experience. This journal will be used to track the progress of my job hunt and the myriad other activities which will be taking me closer to employment.

What has triggered this journal? The new year signals the 3 month mark of my redundancy. According to prior calculations this means that I will run out of money in another 3 months. I am half way to the panic point!

The job hunt strategy will continue to focus on cwjobs.co.uk where the majority of IT jobs appear. The search will expand to my list of Top 100 companies. (This list still needs to be compiled!) If after a couple of months, I have not found gainful employment in one of my chosen fields as a business analyst, test analyst , crystal reports writer or technical author, I will be applying for any and all suitable positions.

In order to ensure my employability I will be working on a number of sideline projects including my own website (maybe), an eBay store (likely) to generate a bit of extra income, gaining further certifications from Brainbench (definitely) and writing a book to help others cope with the redundancy process.

My first task this morning was to prepare graphics and PayPal links for the Scribbling Rivalry Press website. The company is run by my ex-MD who is self-publishing a poetry collection entitled Hobnobbing. The first batch have been collected from the printers today and he is keen to have them selling like the proverbial from his site.

Whilst taking a break I found myself checking out old favourites Slashdot, The Register and NTK. Whilst on NTK reading about a project to provide a bicycle powered network to neighbouring villages in Laos. Intrigued and willing to donate some money in a fit of new year (yet unemployed) generosity I tried to access the site. It seems that the villagers were not peddling hard enough to keep the site running!

From NTK I drifted onto Danny O'Brien's site Oblomovka (the meaning of which I am sure will become clear on subsequent visits). Danny is one of those industry figures who always has his finger on the pulse and a wry comment to accompany him. A site that I'll be checking back on regularly when trying to construct my own web log site.

AmIMoreEmployableTodayThanIWasYesterday? No.