A little while ago, I was asked by someone very dear to me to accompany them to an ’employability workshop’ for unemployed graduates. Being the warm, generous, caring soul you all know me to be, I said ‘sure’, then found out it was on a Sunday. Not happy. But it was at a big, wanky hotel and they were laying on a free lunch. Still not happy, but happier…
So we turn up at said big wanky hotel and wander about the place completely failing to find the room the workshop is in (picking up a few other strays along the way) as some numbnut thought a single A4 sheet was plenty of signage. Twenty minutes late, we finally get to where we’re meant to be and we sneak in all casual-like.
What followed was three hours of the most awkward, uncomfortable, utterly optimism-draining ‘ice-breakers’ I have ever had the misfortune to be involved in (You remember that I’m from Croydon, don’t you?). It was so bad, we scarpered at lunchtime- even the lure of curly sandwiches wasn’t enough to keep us there.
But I did learn some stuff and I got this blog post out of it so it weren’t all bad, you could argue…
Anyway, here are a few choice observations I made during this strange, soul-destroying event:
Your qualifications mean nothing if you lack a shred of common sense
The only requirement for the day was to wear something you would wear to a job interview. That was the only thing they asked (a stylish shirt-tie-cardy combo. I looked slick, thanks for wondering).
The first ‘task’ we took part in was simple: stand along a line on the carpet representing how many jobs we’d applied for, the least at one end of the room, the most at the other. When the awkward milling about finished, matey-boy who was running the show dragged people out to announce how many jobs they’d applied for. One young lady stepped forward and forlornly informed us that she’d had no luck despite sending her CV to over 200 companies. It was one of the most depressing things I’ve ever witnessed. Well it would have been if she hadn’t been the only fucker in the room in a tee shirt, jeans and scuffed trainers…
Really? For a job interview?
When I worked sorting out apprenticeships, we’d occasionally provide a venue for interviews, for employers that didn’t have the facilities to do so themselves (man and a van plumbers, carpenters and that). Most of the time, if we invited four applicants in, one would always arrive all suited and booted, while the other three would turn up in tracksuits. Can you guess who would get the job each time?
Your tracky-bums might be super comfy and that may be your lucky tee shirt, but seriously? You couldn’t iron a shirt and put on a pair of shoes? Fuck about…!
Recruitment professionals are fucking sadists
Same goes for people who work in HR. Fuck knows what most of them would do if Monster.co.uk didn’t exist… But I digress. Next thing our greasy, smarmball of a host got us to do was to sit opposite someone unknown to us, so close that our knees were touching… It felt SO wrong.
As we exchanged knee-warmth, we had to maintain eye-contact while talking incessantly at the other person about whatever the fuck we wanted and they weren’t allowed to react whatsoever. It was weird. We repeated the process about four times and afterwards, everyone agreed it was weird. Useful.
One of the people I spoke at decided to tell me about her messed up relationship with her mum and how she died a little while back so she’ll never get to make amends and that she feels guilty that she didn’t do more while her mum was alive… I shit you not. It turned out she was a recruitment officer for some company and didn’t need to be there. She just decided to be overly revealing to strangers… Because she is evil. See?!
In an interview, don’t let silence intimidate you
The geezer running the day had one tactic for padding out the day- get someone else to start talking then passive aggressively stare at them until they breakdown into a sob story about how hard they’re finding their job search.
If you ever encounter someone who does this in an interview- don’t fall for it. When your finished, stop. If they raise their eyebrows, raise your eyebrows back. They want you to fuck up- they feed on nervous energy. Don’t give them the pleasure. These are the people that love cringe-inducing television. They’re addicts- don’t facilitate them.
All experience is valid experience- don’t sell yourself short
When questioned, half of the people at this workshop claimed they couldn’t break into their field of choice due to having no experience of the industry/trade/job role. But when pushed, they’d all reveal years of retail experience or bar work. No experience. OK, you haven’t worked in publishing or engineering or whatever- that’s why there are things known as ‘entry-level’ positions.
If you’ve worked in a bar- you can probably multi-task, work under pressure and do all sorts of other awesome things that employers are looking for. Same goes if you’ve worked in a shop. Big yourself up, no-one else will. Remember, you are just as brilliant as your mum says, but you can’t bring her to your interviews… Although one potential apprentice did bring his nan along to his and she answered all the questions, as he had ‘a poorly tummy’. He rang up after to see how he got on too. Perrrrrr-riiiiiiiccckkk.
Lose the sense of entitlement
Sorry to be the one who breaks it to ya- a first in your degree does not entitle you to walk in to a management level job. You need to prove yourself by learning how things are done and earning the respect of your colleagues through graft and not being a dick.
If the industry standard for the career you want is a period of unpaid internship-type work, you may need to do that for a bit. Yes, it’s a shit way to go about things and it favours those with savings or a financially comfortable enough family that can support them, but unless there is a MASSIVE shift in the way the world operates, that is (and will be) the way things work. Hugely unfair? Yes, totally. The way it is? Even more yes.
Sorry, but someone needs to say it.
What you don’t do is make demands before you’ve even done a day’s work. If you reckon you need experience, you may have to make some sacrifices to get it. At the moment the employment market is a buyer’s market. If you are offered an unpaid internship that offers training, don’t go demanding payment. The company will say “We understand. Good luck with your job hunt.” and turn to the huge pile of CVs from people wise enough to do their time and get their foot on the ladder.
When migration from Eastern Europe was at its peak a few years age, you’d hear loads of builders moaning that Poles and Latvians and the rest were taking all the jobs because they were willing to work longer hours for less money… Yeah- fuck you and your superior work ethic, Europe. Us here in the UK demand we are all paid loads of money to do things that more capable people are willing to do for less. Because… that makes all the sense? Not really. If you won’t do something there are plenty of other people who will. Get over yourself and realise that. Prove yourself and you can make demands, don’t do it off the bat. That’s what twunts do.
Phew, long post.
I hope someone finds it useful.
Till next time, bitches… (Consummate professional, me.)