The life of the unemployed

If you’ve ever thought that the unemployed were enjoying themselves getting paid to sit on their arses living off other people’s taxes, or as some wanker wrote on Twitter last week “people that dont wanna work and think everything should be handed to them on a plate”, or even if you know that not to be the case, I thought I’d garnish you with some figures from my own personal experiences. I’m currently a little bit angry at the world, and my confidence isn’t as high as it might be. And that’s partly because this week I’ve been rejected for another two jobs that are very much below me.

You know when someone goes “why don’t you just get a minimum wage job in a supermarket? Just get any old job!” – that’s pretty much what I’ve been knocked back for. One that primarily involved loading and unloading boxes, and another that involved dishing up slop in a supermarket cafe.
You know those people who just stand around chatting, despite the fact that the place is filthy, there’s a queue, and half the tables haven’t been cleared? Well apparently they’re the sort of calibre of employee that I can’t currently match up to. The cafe knew this without even interviewing me, despite the fact I’ve got experience of working in retail within a job where my duties included heating up food from frozen to edible, for public consumption. I did it on my own, at 5am, without any management supervision, and nobody died.

So, a recap:

March 2011, I left my last permanent job. I might not have the greatest job history from an employer’s perspective, what with suffering a period of depression where I didn’t work in a year, and leaving two jobs because the repetition was killing me inside, they wanted me to work in areas without proper training/knowledge, or the company had started practices likely to result in it being on one of those ‘cowboy tradesmen’ type programmes – but regardless I still have experience in various areas.

No – I don’t have current experience in a call centre. I haven’t worked in a call centre in a few years, because it’s a shit place to work and I didn’t have to. But I’m sure I can pick it up again. I can read prompts from a screen and ask people security questions just as well as anyone else. You can’t bullshit me that there’s more to it than that, because I’ve done it and there isn’t.

Likewise, if you don’t count time spent in retail or IT support as a form of customer service, well fuck you. You’re wrong. It fucking is. You’re still helping people with stuff, whether you’re helping them put oil in their car in a petrol station, helping them with their shopping in a supermarket, helping them choose an insurance policy over the phone or helping them with an email problem in an office. It’s all customer service.

I’m not useless, I don’t have a poor attendance record, I don’t have a history of just failing to turn up, or of being lazy, or anything like that. I’ve never failed to come in on a Monday because I was tired or hungover, nor have I ever come to work quite clearly stoned – like some of the people I’ve worked with in the past few years. Every employer I’ve ever worked for will provide me a reference, if someone would only ask them.

Because I’m so well organised, I keep meticulous notes of all my job seeking. Which is why I’m able to confidently provide some perhaps interesting statistics for the past year, now.

Since March 2011:

Number of times revamped/updated/heavily modified my CV: 4.


Number of times I applied for a job advertised by an agency, or they contacted me after I uploaded details to Reed, Jobsite, etc. and I said I’d like to be put forward for it: 60.

Estimate of percentage of how often, when an agency says “You sound like a good fit for this – I’ll email you the full job spec now”, they actually do it: less than 5%.

Estimate of percentage of how often an agency contacts me with a role so clearly not meant for me, because it requires a degree in biochemistry, or fluent German or something else I obviously don’t have: 20%.

Estimate of percentage of how often an agency phones me, says “I’ve just found your CV on Jobsite”, then proceeds to ask me loads of questions which are quite obviously answered in the CV they’ve apparently just been reading: 50%.

Number of times a job agency has said “we’ll pass your details to our client and come back to you with feedback” and actually HAS done so: 1. (It was Temple Quay Recruitment. Well done to you.)

Number of recruitment companies who have phoned me, told me about one job in Fishponds, then invited me in to take an internal test/register, before telling me the only job they have is actually something completely different (hours, location, environment AND type of job), despite the wave of fictional jobs advertised in their window that I’d clearly be better suited for: 1. (The agency was Select.)

Number of times I’ve applied for the same probably-fake job that an agency has put on with the same location, wording and salary, within 2 months of each other, just to see what they’ll do: 2.

Number of further interviews with their clients that *any* agency has got me: Zero.


Number of times I’ve applied for a job directly with the employer or sent a speculative application to a company: 43.

Number of those jobs I got from Gumtree: 7.

Number of those Gumtree jobs that either I got no reply to, or sounded a bit like scams, or follow up sounded nothing like they did in the original advert: 6.

Number of telephone interviews I’ve got myself: 1.

Number of times I’ve been invited to an interview after a company (not an agency) found my details on Jobsite: 1.

Number of career open days/evenings I’ve got myself an invite to: 1.

Number of times I’ve been acknowledged/thanked for attending said evenings: 1 (100% success – well done Hargreaves Lansdown).

Number of times a company has told me to phone and book an interview place, and when I do, they’ve said “we don’t have any interview slots available”, yet still continues to repeatedly advertise for more and more staff every week: 2.

Number of times a company has advised me to look at their website to see if they have anything suitable for me to apply for, despite the fact that I’ve already applied for the only thing suitable and they still don’t have any FUCKING interview places, do you RBS?! Stop advertising!: 1. *

Number of face-to-face interviews I’ve had: 10.

Number of above interviews where I think – immediately afterwards – that I almost-certainly won’t get offered the job: 2.

Number of jobs I’ve got myself: 1. One month’s temporary work.

Number of face-to-face interviews where the company says “we’ll let you know either way in the next 5 days” and actually bloody do it: 3.

Number of face-to-face interviews where the interviewer spent the entire time cocking about on his Blackberry, like a stroppy teenager who has been forced to sit there and ask me questions: 1.

Number of interviews where the company is then unable to make up their mind for more than a month, and makes me chase them because they’re no longer sure what they’re looking for, or so-and-so is on holiday at the moment, Sarah had a cold last week, and oh-deary-me isn’t recruitment expensive when we spend this long doing it: 2.

And finally:

Longest I’ve spent preparing for an interview: A week.

Salary of that job: £14,000 p/a, full time, and including working weekends.

How quickly they responded when I asked them for feedback: Never. They didn’t bother even replying.

Area of business they work in: Telecommunications. #Irony.

Update 28/02/12

* Someone who read my blog has contacted me to say that the RBS ‘loads-of-jobs-but-no-interviews-available’ situation occurs when a large company rejects you but won’t tell you they’ve done so, and they know of other large organisations doing the same, from their time working in the recruitment departments of said companies.

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