I’ve spent many hours preparing for my next job interview. I’ve been walking about my living room, waving my arms and looking earnest as I sell my skills; I’ve talked to myself in the mirror and only chuckled a few times, and Chaplin is now fairly certain I can do the job after listening to me repeat my spiel.
I can quote my application the way I could once recite Wilfred Owen; I have a PowerPoint presentation as pretty as a picture and I’ve dyed my hair. (The dye was a gift from a friend; the same one who bought me the case of wine, if you’re interested.)
I’m ready … and I’m in a panic. I find the whole process so false and embarrassing and wish I could go back to doing shifts to prove my worth. Or be paid by Chaplin for feeding him, washing his bedding and cleaning up mouse bowel.
So I looked to Jobcentre Plus for advice. I was told via their website:
“Accept that it is natural to be nervous and that you may have a fast heartbeat, clammy hands and ‘butterflies’ in your stomach. These are your body’s natural way of meeting a challenge, and in small doses it can help you.
“You will make an impression in the first few minutes. It takes this time for people to assess you and store this information. Once you have made a first impression, it’s hardly ever changed. It’s important to make a good first impression.
“If you’re nervous your voice may sound shaky and squeaky. Practise deep, slow breathing before you get to the interview. This will slowdown your heart rate and help you avoid taking quick shallow breaths.”
I now realise their first impression potential employers could have of me is I’m a heavy-breather, with clammy hands and a voice like Joe Pasquale.
I’m also told to consider my employer and ask myself:
- what they do, make or sell?
- who are their customers?
I don’t think these employers make or sell anything so this proved of little value to me. Value being the operative word: a job would seem to mean to Jobcentre Plus working in sales, knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.
I’m also told: “Deciding what to wear for the interview will depend on what sort of work you will be doing. Decide what to wear and get your clothes ready the day before. You don’t have to buy a new outfit. Aim for a neat, clean and tidy appearance, if you look good it will help you feel good.”
The patronising advice would annoy anyone but Jobcentre Plus should really start considering that the unemployed are articulate, literate, professional.
The Telegraph reported in 2009 that “the number of professionals and managers claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance rose from 50,000 in April 2008 to nearly 135,000 in July 2009”. It also revealed that experts estimated there was a further 750,000 people without work who could be middle class and avoiding signing on.
Architecture, it went on, saw a 660 per cent rise in the number of trained professionals claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, from 250 to 1,905.
Do these people need to be told about butterflies in their bellies?
We know that the journalism industry has been decimated with many journalists facing voluntary and compulsory redundancies, and newspapers and magazines being closed down. This means people capable of research, writing, taking complicated information and making it educational, informative and entertaining.
I doubt any of us would write a piece of government information outlining, “don’t fidget or slouch in the chair or fold your arms”. Mind you, I did once write a feature on the science of snogging, so who knows?
Meanwhile, Newsquest Cheshire and Merseyside made £7 million profit last year, according to the NUJ quoted on Hold the Front Page but they’re making cuts.
Guardian Media Group cut 95 jobs in Surrey and Berkshire in 2009, and closed all editorial offices of its 22 weekly newspapers in the north west, axing a further 150 jobs. The company made 203 redundancies in 2009/10.
Trinity Mirror is currently considering job cuts in the north east …
… we could be here all day listing the cuts and job losses in our industry.
The point is the types of jobs being lost are not in sales or marketing and customer service but in traditional careers once seen as aspirational and secure.
In fact, Jobcentre Plus could employ someone to re-write this tosh and cut one number from the growing unemployment statistics.
Jobs applied for this week: 5
Number of rejections in recent weeks: About 4
Number ignored by completely: Loads
Number of interviews secured since signing on: 7
Number of interviews able to attend: 5