Onward and upward.


The Mercedes situation is a real blow, no question. It leaves me feeling deflated and frustrated, but that’s not helping anyone. I text The Blonde with the news and write it up on The Blog within five minutes of receiving the letter, as promised.

That done it’s the dreaded sign on day, just to really put the tin lid on it.

Outside the rain is coming down horizontally courtesy of Hurricane Bill as I strike out, umbrella pointing into the teeth of it in a bid to stay dry. Within a couple of minutes it’s clear I’m onto a loser here, the wind whipping around and trying to rip it from my grasp as it fills like a sail in a squall. I give up and retract it, nothing for it but to simply get drenched.

Fifteen minutes later I’m steaming gently in the Job Centre, perched on a damp chair waving my signing on card forlornly in the hope of being served. There’s probably twenty desks in the room, less than half are occupied, and only half of those are actually dealing with a claimant. Given the fuss that’s being made about the Job Centres being unable to cope you’d expect the positions to be full and under pressure, doesn’t feel much like that to me.

Eventually I get called. I’m really not in the mood for this and my normal resolve to be polite and courteous to front line staff on the basis that they’re not responsible for daft policy slips slightly.

As I sit there with rain still trickling off of my hair and down my neck, my shirt and trousers plastered wetly to me, I’m asked what I’ve done to look for work. I reply that I’ve done exactly the same as I’ve done every other week that I’m asked. She doesn’t know what that is so I suggest it must be on my records she has in front of her, it’s typed in every time. Seems not so I explain, Internet, local paper, blah blah.

What jobs have I applied for in the last week? Well, non actually there haven’t been any. I’m reminded that I must apply for two a week. I acidly suggest that if there are two suitable jobs they will be applied for. If there are ten suitable jobs then they will be applied for. If there are none then non will be applied for.

This is met with pursed lips and a suggestion that we look together on the Job Centre website. “These are the same jobs that are on line are they?” I enquire. They are. “Then I’ve already seen them thanks”. That’s no good apparently, we have to look at them together. She brings up sales jobs in the area since my last visit. There are two. Technical sales in the building trade, experience in the construction industry essential. The other is developing conference, weddings and festival business for a hotel. Experience or relevance to my situation? Zero. Yes it’s “sales”, but gynecology and brain surgery are both “medical”, there’s a little more to it than that.

Realising that she’s failing miserably here my advisor gamely suggests I consider a course. It seems there are two available, one is “developing skills”. She doesn’t seem able to be any more specific than that or suggest any relevance to me. I suspect it’s trying to teach people to spell their own name correctly on job application forms but I could be wrong. The other is a course on “finding jobs”. I briefly flirt with the idea of suggesting she attend that one herself and then talk to me again. Instead I suggest that I’d rather concentrate my efforts on actually finding a job thanks.

With that she graciously deigns to process my next payment and I graciously deign not to staple the contents of her desk to her head, and with the score a nil nil draw I sign my docket and take my leave, back into the wind and rain to battle back home. Advancement for me, the job centre, or the world in general? Nil. Cost to you the tax payer? Oh, billions I should imagine.

I turn my mind to whether there is any way of salvaging a glimmer of opportunity from the Mercedes situation, no matter how small. I have contact there now, there must be worth something I can do with that. By the time I arrive home I think I’ve got it and after a quick shower and change into dry clothes I pull my keyboard toward me and compose an email.

I address it to the Sales Manager and copy it to the HR Manager and begin by expressing my disappointment at not gaining the role and thanking them for their promptness in informing me. I go on to ask whether they’d be kind enough to offer any constructive feedback that may assist me in future job hunting? I then go on to praise their organisation and strongly express my desire to work with them in the future, asking if they would be kind enough to inform me of any other roles within the business, even temporary or part time. And I finish by thanking them for the opportunity and wishing them every success. I fiddle about with it for a bit until I feel I’ve struck the right note of positivity and fire it off. It costs nothing to be polite and courteous yet every now and again it can lay a tiny banker that pays off in the future.

That done I grab some lunch and head back to my PC. The Ford job may yet still come to something, but it’s clear I can’t rely on anything and I need to keep the radar turning so it’s back to the job sites.

As I’m doing so an email pings in from The Journalist. He’s finished the article we’d discussed but wants a small second opinion section writing. Well that’s something.

Onward and upward is rapidly becoming the motto, so putting the Mercedes situation behind me once and for all I set to and plough onwards.


4 Responses to “Onward and upward.”

  1. Colonel Panic Says:


    Don’t expect constructive feedback – really just … don’t.

    These are my Golden Rules of Interviewing for employers. There is lots of advice recruiters are happy giving to potential candidates, but having attended a number of interviews in the last six months, I have to say that the following advice is desperately needed by many hiring organizations too (I’m posting this here in the vain hope that a hiring organization might read it, but also because I really don’t know where else it could go!)

    I’ve seen blue-chip, large organizations fall foul of many of these and in some extreme cases, all of them. Anyway, here are my personal Golden Rules of Interviewing For Employers:

    1. As unnerving as it may seem, your company HR department is also a PR department for your organization. Both departments deal with the public and consequently the public’s opinions of your company are shaped by their interactions with these departments.

    2. If you can’t give good and constructive feedback, dont give any feedback (and take the consequences – see 1)

    3. If you can’t fill a position within 6 months, you need to change your search criteria for the position. If you can’t fill a position within 12 months, you need to change your HR people.

    4. Understand conditional probability before deciding on criteria for filling a position. If there is a 1 in 10 chance of finding someone with 5 years experience in the field and a 1 in 10 chance of finding a French speaker, you are looking at a 1 in 100 hit rate for a French speaker with the necessary experience (not 1 in 10 as was actually supposed by one recruiter I spoke to).

    5. If a candidate asks “Please remove my CV from your database”, you are obliged to do so. Regardless of what your company internal policy says. The Data Protection Act is more powerful than your HR boss.

    6. If you don’t pay a candidate travel expenses, don’t question their motive for applying or attending. Remember – they’ve paid to be here too (see 1).

    7. Don’t call a candidate’s references and grill them as part of the selction process. It is disrespectful and wasteful of the references’ time and a breach of the trust the candidate has placed in you by giving references in advance. Naturally, following up on the references after selecting someone is a very good idea.

    8. If you are looking to hire smart people, make sure the interviewer is pretty smart too. It’s not just you interviewing the candidate for suitability.

    9. Know the market for the skillsets you’re looking to hire for. If you misjudge it you’ll need to go back to number 3 again.

    10. If you don’t have a clear idea of the kind of person you need to fill the position, you’re not ready to interview anyone. You’ll just end up making your organization look inept and disorganized if you don’t know what you want (go back to number 1).

    I hope this seems relevant Charlie – I had to get it off my chest.

    • charliecroker Says:

      I think it’s relevant and fair CP. However, sadly it does seem very much a “Buyers Market” as far as employers are concerned at the moment, and they can pretty much do as they please…


      • Colonel Panic Says:

        That’s certainly true, but if an employer uses that reasoning, it can quickly backfire.

        I interviewed with one organization earlier this year who broke many of ‘the rules’ above. I now work for that organization’s government regulator. Boy were they embarrassed when I broke the news to them.

        Another reason why number 9 is important is that if an interviewer decides not to hire someone with a specialized skillset, but treats them badly, its quite likely the candidate might end up working for one of the competitors.

        Fast forward a year later and that same interviewer seeks advancement at a competitor firm perhaps … ?

        I’ve seen it happen.

  2. ex chicken farmer Says:

    i am so sorry for you mate, I know it doesn’t help in the slightest!

    Maybe the big blue oval will come to the rescue?

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