In Which I am Aggressively Helped by the Jobcentre

Had my first appointment with my new adviser today. He clearly knew his stuff and had a much better grip on reality than my previous adviser, B, but was less…supportive, I guess. B’s attitude was more along the lines of ‘you can do anything you want, I have absolute faith in you’ which is nice and everything but not necessarily that useful. My new adviser, I, seemed to think more along the lines of ‘if you don’t get a job it’ll be your fault because you’ll have done something wrong’ which doesn’t sound nice but he did tell me what I was doing wrong and what I should do in the future to increase my chances, so more useful. Except, there wasn’t that much that I was doing wrong and to find out what I was doing wrong I had to ask exactly the right questions. Still, I learned a couple of things, today, such as: never ask about the salary, it will only make you come across as greedy, and a good question to ask is ‘given my application and how I’ve come across during the interview, do you see me fitting in well with the team?’ which is basically a sneaky way of asking if you’ve got the job or not, and they might not answer, but they might give a sort of half answer, and it shows you’re keen.

At one point, I asked him how to overcome the Master’s dilemma – some employers see it as intimidating and as a sign that you’ll be on the look-out for something better (to which I’d just like to say, if I can work in a Wetherspoons for 2 years, I’m pretty sure I can sit in an office job for a while – I’m no job whore, flitting from one to the next, it’s not how I roll, K?) but I get that that’s what they assume. Thing is, though, if you leave it off, you’ve got this year gap in your CV that you can’t explain. He asked the guy sitting next to him for his advice. Said guy started grilling me about recent applications and my CV, and I mean grilling, in a very aggressive manner, (completely unnecessary, in my opinion, but what are you going to do?) So I answered his questions, in possibly a slightly defensive manner, because I refuse to be intimidated by someone who works in the Jobcentre, no-matter how many Masters’ he has (two, apparently) and he concluded, in a rather smug manner, that I should put something vague like ‘Higher Education’ on my CV. So I thanked him for his help but, to be honest, I really think that would look odd. Do I put my first degree as ‘Higher Education’ too? So under Education, I’ve got 2011-12 Higher Education followed by 2005-8 Higher Education (that one’s going to be pretty obvious, and they might think I did something really stupid like Star Trek Studies unless I state my actual degree.) Well, maybe I’ll try it. See how it looks. And anyway, an employer who’s intimidated by a girl with a Master’s and doesn’t see the benefit of that (I did work my arse off for that Master’s after all – it’s not something I’m ashamed of or want to hide) isn’t exactly my ideal employer.

The longer I’m in the job-hunting the game the more it seems it’s all just a series of tests to pass and hoops to jump through and tricks to avoid but caught out on. Like it’s one big obstacle course or sadistic game.

Hold that thought, I’m having an idea…

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3 thoughts on “In Which I am Aggressively Helped by the Jobcentre

  1. For 2011-2012 you could put “Even Higher Education”, but that might come off as a wee bit pretentious. 😛

    The Great Job Hunt IS a game – a ridiculous game played between job seekers, recruiters, HR consultants and middle managers to determine who will be employed and who will be SOL at any given moment. You’ll learn eventually to stop jumping thru hoops, trying to figure out their “rules” (which shift from moment to moment with no real sense) and to steer your own ship instead.

    Nothing intimidates a recruiter or a manager more than confidence. As long as you don’t act as if you’re the gods’ gift to them, you’ll find they’ll even start jumping thru hoops for YOU. I like to adopt a “interview the interviewer” stance, as if I’m deciding whether or not this job and this person I’m meeting with is right for ME. I smile as if I expect something from them, or are slightly amused/concerned by what they’re saying. I ask very pointed questions, then when they get nervous I “ease them off” the question a bit by, again, smiling and pointing out that I’m sometimes a rather direct and to the point kind of person, and that I just want to understand how I’ll best fit into the position. They smile, a little nervously, because technically that’s a GOOD thing in an applicant and they’ve been trained (yes trained!) to respond positively to that.

    It IS a game, Louise, but it’s YOUR game. Start playing their rules against them, and don’t be afraid to act as if you’re running the interview a bit, because you ARE. This is YOUR job and YOUR paycheck you’re meeting them about, and they owe you the same kind of consideration you’re giving them by agreeing to meet with them about the position.

    Trust me, most of them won’t know you’re playing them. They’ll be too impressed by your confidence. Keep it subtle, but stay in charge and they’ll read that. If they pass you over because your confidence intimidates them, then they probably pull a lot of crap with their employees and can’t STAND the idea of someone who is stronger-willed than they are. They don’t deserve your employment with them.

    Just sayin’

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