Wednesday, 15 September 2010

welcome to the Wold of Online Job Hunting

WHY would I want a job as a fashion personal shopper in Dublin, or an oil and gas consultant in Aberdeen – especially when I am seeking work as an administrator or receptionist in Tamworth?

Welcome to the world of online job hunting.

It’s frustrating, annoying, more than a little ridiculous and very, very discouraging.
I start by feeling inadequate because I have no job, and end up feeling totally incompetent because not only do I lack the lack the skills required by employers, but I cannot cope with the complexities of the internet.

I begin by keying in the name of a jobs search engine recommended by Younger Daughter, enter the type of work I want, and the desired location. I even extend the area of search within a 25-mile radius of home.

So far, so good.

But it is not that simple, for on screen appear all kinds of jobs for which I have no qualifications, no experience, no aptitude – and absolutely no interest. Not only do they bear no relation to the description I have given, but they are certainly well outside the specified 25-mile radius.

It doesn’t take a geographical genius to realise that neither Dublin nor Aberdeen are within commuting distance of Tamworth, Staffordshire.

And as for the jobs on offer! I suspect some only appear on screen because somewhere, hidden in the text, in a minuscule font, is the word ‘office’. Possibly it is only there as part of the address.

It certainly doesn’t mean that an office job is available.

Recent unwanted ‘sits vac’ were for engineers (various); a senior principal acoustics consultant; a solicitor; a driver; a software sales executive; a highways consultant and telephone makers (whatever they may be).

Job vacancies which allegedly met my demands also included a carper washer and drier, a Swedish masseur and ‘business premises’ (well, it was an office)!

Sadly, job titles give little indication of the skills required or the work involved.

Employers appear to go to great lengths to conceal the nature of the work involved, especially when it comes to sales.

Take a look and you will find ‘customer service advisor’. Aha, you may think, this is something to do with answering queries, helping people….

Not so. Customer service advisor means sales. So does customer service representative, customer service operative, retail advisor and store colleague.

This last is particularly irritating and shows a total disregard for the English language. A colleague is an associate or fellow member of staff: it cannot be a job or career.

I get just as irritated by job titles which try to make things sound more grand and important – like the operations which turned out to be shelf stacking.

And what about a sandwich artist? Perhaps this is an opportunity for a food-obsessed painter or sculptor!

Then there are the jobs which no longer exist, but are still on the internet; the jobs with no details; the jobs where you cannot tell if the employer is a ‘normal’ business or an agency; the jobs which offer apprenticeships to young people but don’t want to hear from older people, and the jobs which are only open to existing CRB holders (presumably that means employers don’t have to pay the costs).

Worst of all are the online application forms which are over-long, over-complicated and over-intrusive.

Having struggled to complete electronic questionnaires, compose hopeful cover letters and produce a CV which shows my skills to best advantage, I press the ‘send’ button, or stick some letters in the post.

What happens next? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I am lucky I might get an automated response acknowledging receipt, but this is unusual. There is also the occasional ‘on this occasion you have not been successful’ letter, which is not encouraging, but at least it means someone has read the details I sent and taken the time to reply.

At the moment I am upgrading my CV, highlighting my newly gained IT and Business Administration skills, and giving less prominence to a 30-year career in journalism.

And I am using my time to do the things I want to do.

But it would be nice if employers considered the feelings of job hunters, by making their adverts a little clearer and by giving some kind of feed-back to unsuccessful applicants.

Whether I’m too old or too inexperienced, I would just like to k now where I am going wrong.

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