Working my way to Work . . .
My week has been dominated by attempts to find paid work in the prosperous town in which I live. I didn’t work for many years and yet I got a short-term job without difficulty and mistakenly thought that next time it would easier. It was isn’t so much my lack of success that alarms me but changes in the process. I remember a time when you always got a letter if you were rejected and interviews lasted about half an hour either with an individual or a board. If you don’t mind, here is a short account of my recent experiences with some name changes. It’s called `Conveyor Belt’
`Good morning, would you like to try out one of our spiralizers? Please feel free to have a play with it. This is our top of the range model and here is a small popular model….’
`I’ve got that one at home and it’s a pain in the neck to get it out.’
`I got that one and I didn’t like it.’
`Already have one thank you.’
`I already have one at home.’
`I already have one.’
`Got one. Don’t want another.’
Come to think of it, they really are old hat, I got one a year ago and it was absolutely useless.
`You could do all sorts with this top of the range model, Madam, you could make crisps using thin layers or courgetti.’
`No, I really don’t like courgette.’
`Get thee behind me, Jehovah.’ (what a bizarre reply)
`Good morning, good morning, good morning.’ For goodness sake SMILE. No! Not like the undead. For goodness sake, you frowned again. You missed that customer. Am I supposed to go out in the street if they linger for a second? I could look like a mugger.
`How are you doing, Lin?’
`It’s rather quiet.’
`I’ve just been all over town and it’s busy.’
Oh my giddy aunt, I’m actually scaring people out of the shop. Well, I understand, I don’t go into shops if someone is standing at the door grinning, trying to sell me stuff.
`Oh and if anyone asks, Lin, tell them you’re new, if you don’t know where something is.’
Blimey, it’s freezing cold by the door. Four whole hours without a break, still the customers have generally said hello back and I’ve kept up the sagging act. You can get one of those £300 Japanese knives for £50 in a staff sale, shows what they are really worth.
`Well, Lin how did you feel about today?’
`I enjoyed it thank you.’ Yes, still smiling, well done, Lin.
`I’ll look at the shifts and call you on Wednesday.’
`OK, well, it’s been nice to meet everyone.’ I’m shaking but looks like I have a job.
Thank you for your application and coming for a in store trial day. It was a pleasure meeting with you and discussing your desire to work for Stinker Tables.
Although I was impressed with your interview and trial shift, I have decided not to take your application further. I would however like to keep your CV on file for any future opportunities that may be suited to you.
I would like to thank you for your interest in working for Stinker Tables and wish you all the best.
Perhaps I could steal teaspoons. But you probably need references and certificates to work as a shoplifter these days.
` I thought it was formality, Brigitte. And what’s that no offer of pay or reward, just free work? They could go on until Christmas like that. All that for a minimum wage job.’
`That’s nothing Lin, my daughter worked for four days competing with five other people for a job and she didn’t get it.’
Back on the conveyor belt.
`Are you till trained Lin?’
`No, but I fly a mig in Russian, Are the controls a bit like that??
Well, that’s it, back on the conveyor belt but I’ve been dented in transit.
`I’m sorry Lin but you have to provide a reference showing that you worked in education.’ (reasonable, actually)
`I’m sorry, it was 17 years ago, the school went into special measures and was later demolished and the headteacher died. All the other teachers were just called Mrs and won’t remember me.’
Oh well, back on the conveyor belt. I could do caring, but I have strong vomit reflex and I’d be straight off the belt. Onwards then, more shop jobs.
`I am bipolar but I am stable and have been for years. In actual fact, I was sicker when I did work because I was untreated. To be honest, I was worried it would affect my application. I don’t usually mention it, but I thought I needed to be honest as it asks the question on the form.’
`No, no, not at, we are an inclusive employer.’
Oh well, back on the conveyor belt.
`You’ve done brilliantly on all our tests, Lin. I think you would be bored doing a job like this.’
Well, that’s it then off this conveyor belt
`The trouble is, Lin, that you are trying to jump on a belt that has been moving all through your adult life. If you had started in a faster lane, you would be a long way along. You’d have to stay on too, if you fall off for a time like you and your PhD friends, you won’t get back on it, it’s moving away. Now you are a dusty, dented, overpriced product trying to get onto a moving belt that is full of new products, polished on the outside, who used the Apprentice as a training video.’
That’s it, I thought, that BBC programme, The Apprentice, where they tormented self-promoting candidates for weeks until they `fired’ all but one. All these new interview techniques, the hours, of questions, tests is an attempt to find someone with superhuman self-belief. Do they get better candidates than a 30 minute interview? I don’t think so. I think I would also advise that anyone thinking of a career break, should remember to do a small amount of work and keep their references up together even if the hours are barely worth it. It’s an education, I suppose and I am always open to learn something new.
See below one famous scene of A Monty Python Job interview, funny but less so, thanks to modern techniques edging closer to this style of interviewing.