Thursday, 28 March 2013

Funemployment 11 - Job Centre Revisited

Now I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due and it is to this end that you, dear reader, may have noticed a lack in amusing and critical posts about my adventures at the Job Centre. This is because since my last birthday I have been sent to another part of the Job Centre where my adviser is actually helpful and competent.
Having gotten another year older, and I would like to think another year wiser, has meant that now I am placed in a different category by the Department of Work and Pensions. At first the realisation that I am no longer in the 'youth' category induced a mild Dorian Gray-esque panic and made me wish that I too could track down Basil Hallward and get my own portrait painted. However, once this panic had subsided I began to realise that my last experience at the Job Centre had been very different now that I am not a 'youth'.
For one thing in my last few visits I have seen the same adviser, note please the lack of '', meaning that someone is actually keeping track of my progress, can remember whether or not I have had any interviews and is able to actually advise me. No more do I dread comments such as 'so you speak Russian, have you thought about MI6?' or 'what's a Masters degree?' or 'are you planning to ever work in your native country?'.
Another thing that I noticed was the treatment I received. The adviser listened to my responses to their questions meaning that an actual conversation took place, rather than a series of rather unhelpful quips. I was also made to feel like I was there because I had fallen on hard times and that this was a temporary situation rather than when I was a 'youth' who was clearly there to steal money from the taxpayer in order to buy fags, bargain booze and sweat pants with 'juicy' across the bum before performing in an antisocial way that would mean I would grace the pages of the Daily Mail.
To me it is very interesting that simply because some time has passed means that my treatment at the Job Centre is different. In essence I am still the same person, I hold the same beliefs, same attitude to work but now I am treated like an adult. Either they now view me as an adult or the Job Centre have found my blog posts and have taken my criticisms on board, but this seems very unlikely given that some of my previous 'advisers' didn't seem very computer literate.
While this does mean that my adviser is helping me get a step closer to employment it does mean a distinct lack of material for humorous blog posts. Luckily, however, strange things seem to just happen to me and weird people seem to follow me around, so if things get really bad then I shall simply begin a series entitled 'Laura's adventures on the bus'. But for now, the job hunt continues.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Job Hunting vs Dating

It has come to my attention that Job Hunting in many ways is very similar to Dating and that there are many similarities in both processes.
Having been fired and having failed to get a job at a networking event or by talking to someone face to face you begin by creating an online profile - your qualifications, good points, skills and a photo in which you are neither drunk nor wearing more make up than someone on TOWIE. 
Following this you begin to look through the profiles of others, read about the company, what is it that they are looking for? Does it match with what you are looking for? Conversely companies sit and look through your profile deciding the same thing.
Eventually contact is made either a company phones you or you make an application that is well received. The next step is the interview, an experience very akin to a first date (minus the battle at the end for who should pay - you, them or go Dutch?) - you dress to impress, prepare in advance what you will say and spend most of the time either suppressing 'the crazy' or twisting what it is that you actually do. For example I have seven cats named after the seven dwarfs becomes I am an animal lover, I once got drunk and wound up on a train to Edinburgh becomes I very much enjoy travelling, I read the entire Twilight saga in one weekend becomes I love nothing more than curling up with a good book etc. However, the one thing guaranteed to go down well in both situations is the phrase 'I do enjoy cooking especially making cakes'.
Once that first interview/date is over you then spend the next few days after it praying that the person will contact you to arrange a second. If they do you are over the moon, if they don't you spend the next day in your PJs eating chocolate and watching Bridget Jones Diary wondering what exactly it is that you did wrong.
However, after numerous applications and several interviews/first dates you eventually managed to impress and finally hear the words 'congratulations you got the job!' meaning that at least for a bit you will be free of the stress of applications and interviews/first dates. It also means that you can now sit and slowly become one of those smug happy people who use parties as an opportunity to try and set their single/unemployed friends up on dates/interviews.
So it would seem that the worlds of Job Hunting and the world of Dating are very similar indeed and thus show a use of transferable skills.

NB If you are a future employer I do not own seven cats named after the seven dwarfs that would be sad! It's actually five and they're named after the lads from One Direction. :P

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Prison for Pryce and Huhne

After weeks of twists, turns and revelations the eventful trial of former Fib Dem, sorry, Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce has come to an end. Yesterday both were sentenced to 8 months in prison for perverting the course of justice.

The case came into fruition after Huhne’s ex-wife went to the Times to expose her husband for a driving offence that occurred in 2003. In short Huhne had been caught speeding but it was Pryce who took the 3 points on her license to stop Huhne from being banned from driving. Ten years passed and the now former Mrs Huhne decided that it was time to expose her husband, an action which also shafted her at the same time and resulted in the pair both being sent to prison. A classic example of hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

However, while for the majority of people a spell behind bars would put a death sentence to any chance of having a real career or in some cases of ever finding employment when it comes to MPs prison often seems to be the making of their careers. Take for example former Tory MPs Jeffery Archer a now famous author or Jonathan Aiken who found Jesus in prison (as in Christ not a fellow prisoner of hispanic origin) and is now the president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The question is for Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce, will prison be the making or the breaking of them? The reputations of both are in tatters meaning that it should be a good long while before either of them will be in a position to work in a role that requires integrity. This being the case what could the future hold for Huhne and Pryce?

It goes without saying that both will endeavour to make money from their experiences in prison, but how? Given how the events have unfolded I predict that Pryce will go to the papers and sell her story (let’s face it she’s done it before) but this time it will be as a series over several weeks. The angle will be something along the lines of ‘my love for my bully of a husband cost me reputation and landed me in prison’. In this series she will share all the gory details – new details of her marriage, the horrors and shame of prison, how her children are now estranged to her etc etc. In other words a classic Daily Mail piece.

Huhne on the other hand will most likely follow in the footsteps of other politicians and go for the book option. The title of which will be something like ‘Crime Does Not Pay – My Almost Year in Prison’, copies of which is slowly move off the shelves before being found in the bargain bin at service stations. There is also a chance that this ‘fame’ will earn Huhne a place on a reality TV show a la Nadine Dorres. The twist will be that Huhne won’t receive a whipping from George Young but that Pryce will be a surprise guest on the show.

Whatever happens when the pair leave prison (which given the justice system will probably be in a few weeks time) they will not fate gracefully into obscurity but in some way will find a way to profit from this experience.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Funemployment 10 - Signing Back On

After my two week placement had finished I had still not managed to secure a full time paid job. Sadly this meant only one thing - signing back on at the Job Centre.

If anything re-signing back on was much easier and quicker than signing on as all I was effectively doing was re-activating my account. All of my information was the same and my situation had not changed in any way. A couple of hours later I received a text informing me that I had to report to my local Job Centre at 9am the following day to sign some forms. When I read this I nearly dropped my iPhone in shock at the efficiency of the Job Centre. Maybe, just maybe, they had become more organised in the two weeks since I had last been. Sadly, I was lulled into a false sense of hope.

I reported to my Job Centre on time and was the first person there. I sat waiting for an adviser to become available. Something which you would think would be easy given I was the first person of the day, but as usual the staff were all engrossed too in conversation about their weekend activities and leaning on filing cabinets to help.

Eventually I was seen, given some forms to sign and have the process explained.My adviser handed me all the forms I needed but then became a mixture of enraged and confused when I began to read them. Telling me that I didn't need to read them I just needed to sign them. I then became enraged and confused. I have been raised to always read a document before I sign it. Yes the form simply stated that in order to receive my JSA I needed to apply for X jobs a week, turn up to appointments etc, but how was I to know whether or not in the small print they had added a section saying that if after six months of unemployment they could sell my organs to the NHS (good luck to the poor sod who gets my liver! 1 year in Russia and 6 as a Tory!), force me to donate blood in exchange for money or rent out my womb to a childless couple.

Having once again tried to skim read the forms I decided that it was best to just sign them as the words 'organs', 'womb', 'sell' or 'NHS' did not instantly stand out. It also meant that I was spending needless time in the Job Centre. I was then told to report back in two weeks for a normal signing on session and was then able to leave. It appeared that I had escaped the dreaded 'preliminary consultation' where an 'adviser' would go through my CV and spend 40 minutes asking me to explain the UK education system, why exactly I was unemployed followed by 10 minutes on why I should work for MI6.

Two weeks later I appeared for my signing on session knowing that I would only have to appear for ten minutes then could leave. Sadly my hopes of avoiding the 'prelim consultation' were dashed as my adviser noticed this box had not been ticked on my form. Despite trying to explain that I had already had one of these sessions and that I had had 4 interviews in the last three weeks i.e. I clearly knew how to job hunt and was getting somewhere it was still mandatory. So it would seem that the Job Centre had clearly not become more organised, as I had hoped, and I still would have to waste 40 minutes of my life with an 'adviser'. Joy. The job hunt continues.