About 10 years ago, I’d quit a permanent job working in a very repetitive role. I went out to a number of recruitment companies, and after registering in person at quite a few – when my hopes had all but gone, I walked up the stairs of a branch of Randstad. They asked me what my Word/Excel skills were like, and I said something like “probably not great”.
Despite this, they sat me down, got me to take a computerised test, which reckoned I was an intermediate in Excel and an advanced user of Word. I had a contract for work for the following week. Odd-weeks aside, I was employed by a combination of several different agencies (but mostly Randstad), in a lot of different organisations – a week here, a week there – for about a year.
Then work started to dry up, it seemed. I say “seemed” because the agencies told me they had loads of jobs. I walked into a branch of one well known national recruitment company, and they had several jobs in the window for IT tech support, in a call centre. Great. Before my temping, I’d been working for a rival in a different call centre, doing IT support, so I’d obviously be perfect. I sat down, the recruitment consultant asked me what sort of work I was looking for, I mentioned I had experience of technical support in a call centre, to which she said “oh we don’t have anything like that”. I was far too polite to say at the time, but really – that means the job in the window is bullshit. It doesn’t exist.
I got back into permanent jobs, did a mixture of those for the next 6-7 years, and then recently (on/off for the last couple of years), I’ve started looking for work via temping agencies again.
It’s all change.
I walked into a branch of a recruitment company which has high-street stores, to be met with confused looks. What was I doing PHYSICALLY in this branch on the main road? They couldn’t tell me if they might have any roles that might suit me, and I was advised to go home and register on their website. So what are the people in the shops for, then?
I registered on the website anyway, including filling out more details than you’d need to join a dating website, and uploaded my CV. Several weeks later, when I phoned the same agency, to ask about something else, I was advised to email my CV to them, despite the fact that I had registered on the website. So what’s the point of registering on your website then?
Another agency, phoned me late one afternoon after apparently seeing my CV on Jobsite/Reed/Monster/one-of-those, to tell me all about an admin job in a nice office in Fishponds, that they thought I’d be good for, but insisted that I come in to register and take a skills test. “Now we’re getting somewhere”, I thought.
I arrived the following morning, in a shirt and tie, sat down and started filling a form out – on paper. I overheard the end of a conversation between two members of staff which ended with “well keep pushing that, because that’s the only role we’ve got at the moment”. Bit odd, I thought. Their window is full of jobs. I put it to the side of my mind, and concentrated on this test I’d have to take.
The skills test involved about 40 questions split over 2 tests if I recall, and I think I got 2 wrong. More than enough to ace both. Great. I sat down, very pleased with myself, and she told me more about the role from the phone. Or rather, she didn’t. She started telling me about a job selling charity subscriptions. It wasn’t an admin role, it wasn’t based in Fishponds, and it wasn’t in an office. When she asked what I thought of this, a part of me wanted to stay diplomatic, while a part of me wanted to ask why she was wasting my time with a job that bears no fucking resemblance to what I was here to interview for.
While deciding how to play this, I left a pause so long, that she could tell I wasn’t very excited about this offer of a job that (from the huge number of job adverts for these people) evidently has an enormously high turnover. Really? How dare you invite me in to interview for one role, then offer me something completely different? And all the jobs in your window are bullshit. If this is the only role you have, then everything in your window is advertising a product that doesn’t exist.
I decided to play it relatively cool, tell her that didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in, which she appeared to take great offence at. She wrote something I couldn’t read on a bit of paper and gouged out a circle around it with such force, you’d think I’d just called her mother a prostitute. A lesser man would have told her to go fuck herself then and there.
Since then, I’ve registered with several other online recruitment places, including a mixture of big names, and unknowns, and my experiences have been generally poor.
One place very recently phoned me about a temporary job that required security clearance (I don’t have), and specific knowledge of several packages I’ve never used (two I’ve never even heard of). Despite this, he said he thought I’d be able to learn all these systems (it’s a temporary role remember – under 3 months), and he’d put me forward anyway, and send me the job description that evening by email.
No. Of course he didn’t.