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'

'Let me check the spelling for you'

'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.