Saturday, 29 October 2011

"The Welfare State" BBC documentary

Saw this on Thursday night, tying in with this article on the news website about their survey of people who back many benefit cuts. It was more of the usual media and politician rhetoric to tar all unemployed people with the same brush, as I expected it would be, then you saw a few interviews with honest people who have sent loads of applications out yet don't get replies.

The comments on the blogs I'm following, Watching A4E and Quacking Plums say it all. Ghost Whistler's (Quacking Plums' author) comment on Watching A4E about the 'kindergarten' environment in the training centre was one I related to from when I did Flexible Routeways with the motivation collage, which seems as much of a timewaster as the paper tower building and role plays about nuclear bunkers.

I did identify with another related BBC article today though, I would agree with measures to "make people who cause trouble feel the full effects of their actions". Interestingly the article admits only 35% of the rioters in August were claiming an out of work benefit though, so as Ghost Whistler has rightly pointed out, over 60% were not.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Jobseekers tell Channel 4 News why they are struggling to find work

An excellent article from Channel 4 News online with Jobseekers telling why they are struggling to find work and what practical changes they want to see in the jobs market. We all know the politicians and media rhetoric of Jobseekers being labelled as "too picky / fussy" whatever, but little consideration of the other side of the coin, where it is more employers who are able to cherry pick with so much competition and the first poster touches on this.

That first post also raises the idea of more "agreements between Jobcentres and employers", getting at the fact employers often take someone on who is already in a job following open market advertising. Another poster highlights the "overqualified" issue, quoting that the Jobcentre "don't know what to do with me because I'm skilled." Then there's the mention of the "pathetic courses that waste time and money", I'm all for people going to providers if they use their clout to introduce them to potential good employers, but not for paper tower building and role plays about nuclear bunkers and plane crashes.

No posts about the issues for disabilities on this page, but it is factored in with the employers who can cherry pick.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Unemployment rise

Top of the BBC news tonight, with all the politician's talk of how the private sector was supposed to take up the slack of the public sector cuts, the shadow chancellor has said how "the problem is in the last quarter we've seen a fall in public employment of over 100,000 whilst a rise in private employment of just 40,000."

As for my own temp employment it is nearly four months, I'm still generally happy however I'm thinking a bit more cautiously as another temp is finishing this week. The last few days there hasn't been quite enough to keep all of us busy all days, suggesting a slight overall decline in workload. I do know one more temp leaves next week of her own choosing as she's going to university.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Interview 'gift of the gab' revisited - weaknesses question

Another great post on MoneySavingExpert about 'gift of the gab', this thread was specifically about the typical interview "what are your weaknesses" question. This post (22) is especially interesting as even without reference to Aspergers or disability still makes that comparison between conFIDence at blagging and comPETence at the job.

Post 32 has a parent contrasting her confident son who dropped out of A levels but interviews well, and her more reserved daughter still doing her A levels and in process of applying for university, who worries about how she will do at interviews in the future because she isn't a "blue sky thinking outside of the box" type of person. That phrase does my head in too!

At the end of the thread post 41 is also very good, a man who accepts his introverted partner as she is and firmly believes "there is a situation and a job for every kind of person, it's just being matched to the right one for their personality."

Sunday, 10 July 2011

"Where do you see yourself in five years time" - a very different take

Was out last night and telling one friend about my new job as it was the first time I'd seen him since I'd started. I'd said about how it is an agency temp job and I still don't know how sure how long for but was just glad I'd been given the chance to start without being interviewed in the usual way. We came onto the malarky of the old favourite "Where do you see yourself in five years time", he'd got a brilliant take on this.

He had said how he once responded with "Look I don't care about five years time. I could even be dead in five years time. I'm here because I'm interested in the job you've got going right now." This is so true, they ask that question to test confidence and ambition, but most of the time people really are interested in the job going now.

In my programming days I'd told an agency that I was not suited to climbing the ladder and becoming an analyst and then a project leader, when I had an interview coming up they told me the interviewer wouldn't want to ask me the question and hear me say "I don't want to be a manager" yet that really was the truth, I knew in myself I didn't have either the ability or desire to be so. At the interview itself they said they were expecting the new person to manage the department at times and I told them the role hadn't been as described so I knew I'd ruled myself out.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Government contradicts itself

Two very contradictory articles from the BBC. First we have the Work and Pensions Secretary urging firms to hire unemployed Britons, but business groups replied firms needed the "best people" and migrants often had a better work ethic and skills.

However we then have this article where the government chose a preferred bidder in Germany for a train building contract, stating the bid "represented the best value for money, and that it was following EU procurement rules, which do not allow where companies are based to be taken into account." One wonders whether in deciding the "best value for money", have they factored in that if the British firm had the contract their workers would be paying the government in taxes, whilst going with the German bid it will be the government having to pay those same workers Jobseekers allowance instead.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

"Fairy Jobmother" comment in Guardian

Not had much time for updating recently, thanks to being busy with this new temp work, been there a month now and still ongoing!

Found a brilliant comment on the Guardian about this programme featuring the aggressive woman originally shown in "Benefit Busters (see blog entries from Sept 09)." I have not liked programmes like this or "The Apprentice", I was chatting to my neighbours the other day about my experiences of interviews and we came onto debating whether programmes like these encourage this aggressive style of interviewing.

All the more glad to have been working for a month.

Friday, 27 May 2011

First week over and I'm back next week too!

First week over and still feeling its going well, and I'm back in next week too. I had some quality checks on my first few days work from my mentor in which she only highlighted minor errors, yesterday she'd even said she wouldn't routinely quality check any more as I was really getting there.

It was also a victorious feeling on Wednesday lunchtime to call the jobcentre sign off line as that was when I'd worked my 16th hour and could sign off.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The first day

Well I quite enjoyed it, the data entry is quite straightforward. Don't yet know how long it is due to go on for, even if it is only this week or two, I appreciate the chance to take a short job in showing my capability of work, as I didn't have to be interviewed and it was an agency saying "start next week". I do hope I can get an idea of how long it is going on soon so I can get back to the social enterprise about the part time accounts job.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

"New Deal course content"

Latest "New Deal course content" thread on MoneySavingExpert in which, surprise surprise, a poster has spoken of activities such as " playing games, doing quizzes, team crosswords etc, making things out of paper."

Some key comments:
Post 5 - They're designed as an irritation
Post 6 - Providers do care about the outcomes and progressions into employment. Providing a second rate training course to save money could have a huge impact on an Ofsted report and so reduce funding and commercial income in the future. The content is agreed and must meet certain criteria to meet the funding requirements.
Post 11 - Thinking behind crosswords, puzzles, games is social interaction, getting your mind working again. I could live with crosswords, it was role play I really couldn't stand.

Counting the days to next Monday!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Week in which everything seems to be happening all at once

I'm actually getting some positive news this week. Just had an e-mail from the social enterprise where I worked last year as they've now got Sage accounts and will have a requirement for a day a fortnight to enter their information, hopefully to grow to 1 day a week and hopefully to full time work as we get busier.

Today is an ironic day for their e-mail to arrive as an agency have been in contact with a local temporary data entry position to start on Monday, hence that I've only picked the e-mail up late in the afternoon, having been to the agency office to complete some paperwork. They did say this job may only be for that one week, and I'm also being "cautiously" optimistic in not counting chickens until I am actually there working as I once turned up to an agency temp job a few years ago, only to find the employer had withdrawn the vacancy.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

"Hostility to Disabled people from strangers" - survey quoted in Guardian

Had just found this in the Guardian about a survey finding disabled people facing increasing hostility from strangers, which has grown worse over last 12 months since controversial benefits reforms were launched.

"Victims blame ministers for portraying all people with disabilities as scroungers" is quoted, and I think much of the media are equally guilty. I believed the redefinition of the tests for disability benefits to assess what people CAN do, is a positive thing in principle, but was made negative by the way the politicians however presented the changes "as a way of getting tough on people who are cheating the system" and it is this punitive talk which exacerbates the kind of prejudice being talked about. As a person "mostly able while having a disability" I want to be seen for what I CAN do, showing how the reforms should have instead been presented with the backdrop of how many disabled people would like to work and be seen for what they can do. The survey quoted incidents such as "being abused in the streets, erroneously reported to the benefits fraud hotline and accosted when trying to use disabled parking spaces".

The best point made in the last paragraph, as picked up by Scope's chief executive, was the irony that "this backdrop of negativity will only make it harder for the million disabled people who will be migrated off benefits to get a job because the decline in tolerance for disabled people would see fewer being offered taking up jobs." I've posted many times about the need for re-education of employers, this touches on re-education of much of the general public being prejudiced by the tough talking politicians and media, as within that public are employers. They have to be the ones willing to offer jobs to people with disabilities that are potentially able to work.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Latest in Guardian - suicide threats guidelines and 'timebombs'

An interesting post in the Guardian about the Jobcentre being given guidelines on how to deal with claimants' suicide threats'. The anonymous Jobcentre employee said "We were a bit shocked. Are we preparing ourselves to be like the Samaritans? The fact that we've dealt with the public for so many years without such guidance has made people feel a bit fearful about what's coming." An appeals officer for Disability Solutions, who represents claimants who try to overturn decisions made following work capability assessment tests that they are fit for work, spoke of clients who were taken to hospital and sectioned after decisions made that they were fit for work. The article also linked back to the one I'd posted last month about the target culture.

There were also links to this from last November about "three ticking timebombs" namely the public sector job losses and changes to income support and incapacity benefit which would put a huge strain on Jobcentre Plus. Interestingly this is written by someone who started work for the Jobcentre expecting to see the media stereotyped "workshy and feckless" and commenting on the reality of how different this turned out, citing the frustrations of those who genuinely need help, and imminent reductions of jobcentre staffing.
This comment sums it up with ironic humour.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

"Talk the talk, but cannot walk the walk" - another example

Another example on Moneysavingexpert, post 11 in a thread about "why and how one candidate gets the job over the other applicants".

Earlier in the thread post 2 picks up on an old favourite - The saying about what you know and who you know can count regardless of the level of the job

Post 4 - writer had tried to do the right thing researching a company on their website - only to be told at the interview that the website was out of date and they had, in actual fact, been taken over by someone else again

Post 7 - writer highlights many random reasons for selection or not, showing it isn't just how enthusiastic or how well you sell yourself anyway sometimes.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Forum thread - Competency-based interview feedback

Following the previous post, this is the poster's interview feedback thread with the employer using a "competency-based interview" and "team work and customer appreciation being highlighted as weak points" as would have been expected. The gist of the thread is why was the interview even offered given that the poster had disclosed his disability in advance of the interview?

The first reply in post 2 asks him a few questions which he replies to one by one in post 6.
Q - Have you ever done a work trial?
A - Never been offered one. Have approached some companies, but generally the response is that they would not do this as it costs them a great deal of resources inducting and training.
Q - Have you had training in recognition of social cues? (Think GP can refer?)
A - I have done everything possible all my life! ......... I hate the constant need for people to think that *I* need to improve and the fault is *ME* and under my control.
Q - Have you thought of going self employed?
A - Yes. There are obvious risks and challenges though, particularly in the current climate. As yet I have been unable to consider any product or service I could provide I feel there is a market for in which I could excel, etc. Again my social skills are likely to be as much a barrier there as they are at interviews. Plus I would need some capital to start with, which I am highly unlikely to be able to get access to.

One well-meaning friend who already does run his own business did put the same thing to me and I had the same reasons for saying it wasn't for me, if I can't sell myself in an interview I couldn't sell my own product/service whatever that in theory may have been. The friend had said to think what I could do with my computer but I can't think what I'd do that isn't already provided by someone far more professionally experienced and with the sales skills. I know I wouldn't be articulate for all the legal dealings with solicitors, auditors, bank managers etc.

Post 8 is from someone in charge of recruiting - It's not easy to find an employer willing to take a little risk on someone who is a bit different or has a disability. I have taken that risk a couple of times, and unfortunately despite our best efforts and their best efforts, making adjustments, it hasn't worked out. Which does make me think twice about doing it again, but we do our best to look at everyone individually and not be influenced by what has happened in the past with someone else. ..........
Unfortunately, although your technical side was excellent and you could have coped with the communications side, there were probably several applicants whose technical side AND communications were excellent, so the employer was quite right and legally sound to give the job to one of those people instead of you.

I like post 11 too - The other thing to remember is that some of these social skills are actually a disadvantage in the workplace, or at least a lack of them can be presented as a huge advantage. You will NOT spend all day chatting on the phone / by the kettle or updating your facebook profile or otherwise 'wasting' time. You will NOT spend half an hour in idle chit chat every morning before getting down to work, because you just won't see the need!, perfect tie in with the excerpt from the other thread about the poster's partner's colleagues.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

"Hopeless employees did great in the interview"

A spot on post from the author on MoneySavingExpert and I've often thought this from some of my past colleagues when I was working. Some of his partner's managers talk about some employees with "how great they did in the interview at the start, yet in the job itself they're turning up late with hang overs, trying their best to leave early, constantly using their mobile phone, and generally putting little effort into the job".

This has a ring to it of "Talk the Talk but couldn't Walk the Walk", while for many of us with Asperger, we don't Talk the Talk well but would Walk the Walk when given the chance.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

"Why do you want this job?" - jokey forum post

Had a bit of a downer of a week, not much to apply for. To get my quota 3 for the week I've had to go ahead with this one from last Friday despite its job spec, one other general admin one came up, then I've had to do a speculative one as there's just no other suitable ads.

Anyway got a little light relief to find this post on MoneySavingExpert about that immortal question "Why do you want this job?". "Anything is better than the endless round of jobsearching" or "Why do you think - I need to earn some money to pay the bills". LOL!

Monday, 11 April 2011

"Graduate view"

Found these articles, part 1 from last October and part 2 from November. I could relate to these from my own experience of looking for a "graduate" career, I was seeking 'computer programming' but IT related graduate schemes seemed to imply you'd just start as such for a short time but ultimately be trained to become a manager, the glossy brochures were full of the testimonials of "Two years later I took up my junior managerial role."

Part 1 tells of how the writer struggled with interview questions about "thinking of times when he had worked as part of a team or displayed leadership skills". Leadership skills were frequently mentioned in the "graduate" brochures I got in my final year, and it was a painful reminder when I had my first appraisal in the programming job I held from 1997-2002, that the director said I had to "improve" at leadership skills in that job, as he liked to envisage moving everyone up and developing teams of new people below us and that other people joining when I did had shown such potential leading qualities which I hadn't. I didn't want to lead anyone, I just wanted to keep programming as I was good at it, but that appraisal felt like an ultimatum that I'd be sacked if I didn't improve at leadership. Fortunately this would not be the case, and he dropped leadership from my appraisal criteria in future years, as he realised I would not be one to develop in that way and that he should use me to do what I was good at. After redundancy from that job, however, it really hit when jobs I went for required customer facing analysis, and those where I could just be a programmer I would be told "you have too many years experience as this is a junior role."

It does highlight the common perception that "graduate = manager". The other ex-programmer's blog I follow has a page on "Employer attitudes", see the last paragraph headed "Ambition or lack of it".

Friday, 8 April 2011

Latest job spec - just want to scream right now!

Very late in the day on a Friday afternoon, not often a new job goes on the boards at this time. Advert reads "assist the underwriting team by dealing with all the routine administrative procedures and to ensure that information is processed and filed correctly. To be a resource to the underwriting and administrative teams by assisting with data entry, filing, scanning, shredding and any other task deemed appropriate". So far not too bad. It's on one of the sites with a "one click apply" system so send it off with my stored CV.

Back comes an e-mail with an application form to handwrite and post, and a job spec. Here's the catches:
Strong verbal and written communication skills
Good telephone manner
Ability to deal with a number of requests and re-prioritise accordingly
Can explain situations clearly and comprehensively
Adapts communication style to meet the needs of the recipient
Covers reception as required
Personal development - to participate in the training of new staff

The application does have a disability question though: Do you have any medical condition that is likely to restrict your ability to undertake this job? If so, please give details and state any adjustments that you might need in the job to overcome this restriction. Will just have to be honest!

Doesn't anyone out there have a job that will nurture what I'm good at while not penalising what I'm not?

Jobcentre Target culture - now staff set to strike

Clearly showing how many staff at Jobcentres don't even like this target culture themselves, see these links on their plans to strike, on the Telegraph, BBC and UK Unemployed blog.

The Guardian has this follow up article today including the quote "The DWP backtracked and released a statement confirming that the practice had been going on in some offices as a result of a misunderstanding between the department and some jobcentre managers. It insisted this was no longer the case."

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Jobcentre 'Travel to Interview' scheme stopped

Just read this on MoneySavingExpert linking here to the DirectGov page. I used to have use for this scheme while I was still trying to look for work in computer programming between 2002 and 05 when I still had sporadic interviews, as that work was well enough paid to make it worth potentially relocating. The sort of lower paid entry-level accounts I'm looking for would not justify relocating anyway, but it's a sign of the "age of austerity" when another of the most useful Jobcentre schemes is stopped.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Jobcentre Target culture revisited - through another blog and the Guardian

Found another blog "Diary of a Jobseeker" which linked to this Guardian article about a whistleblower, the article in turn being supplemented by this video. I refer back to my own post from February when I had found threads touching on this subject on MoneySavingExpert.

I do reiterate that most of the people I've dealt with at my own jobcentre have been so ethical, and especially considerate with respect to my disability. In the Guardian article a dyslexia charity spokeswoman warned that "the true impact on people with learning difficulties was likely to be higher because in many cases it was a hidden disability," yet going on to say what I'm constantly trying to emphasise "we know that with a bit of help they can be terrific employees."

With my own disability being very "hidden" too I do wonder when I might deal with someone not quite so considerate, there was one signing appointment where one man spoke with regard to a reception position that he thought I would "overcome it in situ", not to forget the Flexible Routeways culture of trying to "coach" me to just think positive by them telling me I was a "good communicator" no matter how many times I told them that employers wouldn't say I was good.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

"Who you know" culture

This BBC article is about the Deputy Prime Minister's "plan to improve social mobility", with a vow to end the culture in which opportunity was determined by "Who you know". He has come under fire from the opposition after admitting that he himself had benefitted from an internship at a bank, secured through family connections.

The government is looking to get employers to improve access to their internships, like so many things this is something I won't believe until I see it for myself. One classic quote from the article was an opposition MP saying "For many young people mobility has turned into a bus down to the job centre."

Monday, 4 April 2011

Long-term Incapacity re-assessments

Here's the latest BBC news of people on incapacity benefit being sent letters this week asking them to be tested on their ability to work. Disability charities are concerned many of the assessments are unfair.

This article rightly mentions those found immediately fit for work who will be put on Jobseekers allowance, and those judged capable of doing some form of work being placed in a "work-related activity group" on Employment Support allowance. The minister speaks of this not being about forcing people to return to work, but helping those who could in some capacity. However, what I consider to be the bigger issue, is the willingness of employers to take them on, this is still not mentioned. This comment in the Guardian has a sentence saying "But who would hire us?"

See also "UK Unemployed Betrayed" blog link.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

"The British at Work - To Have and Have Not, 1980-1995"

Saw this BBC programme looking at work in the 80s and early 90s, where our jobs could "enrich and exhilarate" or "humble and humiliate". It referenced the politician who said "on yer bike", panned to a north-eastern man who did his best to take this advice, showing the pitfalls of staying in temporary accommodation to work at a nuclear power station in Kent, showing the stark reality of the effect on his family life. There was also reference to the emphasis on "entrepreneurial spirit" with early adverts for Enterprise allowance with the rather preachy psycobabbly coaching-speak caption of "Inside every unemployed person is a self-employed one."

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Interview feedback

Must admit didn't feel too good about yesterday's interview. I'd parked and walked up the road in the address following the internet map, not seeing any sign of the premises and reached a named road which was past it on the map, and looking ahead it all looked residential so turned back to see what I'd missed and walked on the other side of the road, by which time it was gone 10. I eventually found it looking carefully at each junction, it had been concealed by a hedge with only a very small gap and a more prominent entrance on the side road, the time was about 10:07.

Didn't wait long to go in upon arrival, there were two interviewers, it broke the ice early on when they said "don't know if you know much about us but we're builders" so I got to drop a mention of their work on one local historic building and one modern one that I'd read about from their website. They described their setup and the role, pretty like other accounts roles I've had, then very unusually said "anything you'd like to ask us now?" which really caught me on the hop as I'm used to there being many questions from interviewer to me before that. I hesitated a bit then, really felt the nervousness in contemplating whether this was the right time to mention my disability, decided I'd probably best do so now, also raising the work trial scheme. They'd said there were normally 4 people (including this role) based in the office so whether that's enough to have the supplier contact I wouldn't be able to do I don't know. It was a bit more positive after that when I got chance to talk through what accounts packages I'd used and how doing my club accounts on computer has kept my hand in while out of paid work. They did say they were interviewing for most of today.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

No job worth crying in the night

Going back to that thread on MoneySavingExpert about the girl who was nervous about taking the credit control job here's her post where she'd walked out this morning after crying in the night. No job is worth that.


Post has arrived and I've got an interview on Tuesday, my first since November. It is at a builders company I'd applied last week. Fingers crossed!

"No jobs without phones"

This poster is currently in a call centre and looking for ideas of what to do that didn't involve phones or dealing with the public. Most of the replies have been to the effect that there's no jobs without phones and public contact except factories. I know I've had to keep applying for things I could otherwise do apart from these aspects, hope to get an interview, mention my disability at that stage and stress that's the only aspect I'm less able to do.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Credit control - "we have to improve your assertiveness and confidence"

A post on MoneySavingExpert, this girl has just been offered a Credit control job. The interviewer had warned her "a lot of the job will involve taking abuse from from people who don't want to pay up their debt" and that "we would have to improve your assertiveness and confidence in order to deal with this."

I should know with how awful it is to be on the other end of the phone, in that I was being given abuse by the credit control bods, even though the decisions about when to pay were being taken by the cretins higher up, they hold on as long as possible, but then it was ME who took the flak on the phone. Yuk!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Blow for voluntary possibility

Got an e-mail from the secretary of the charity where I hoped to start some voluntary work this week, was expecting I'd be starting tomorrow but she was rushed into hospital on Wednesday and needs at least two weeks rest now. My best wishes for her recovery soon.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Friday, 18 February 2011

Review meeting

This morning was the extended sign-on appointment at the three month point to review things from the "Back to Work Session". I was a bit apprehensive that it turned out not to be the same advisor who originally did that session, but went fine as the new advisor seemed equally appreciative of the skills I do have and the issues presented by my disability. I did show the speculative applications as discussed and he was impressed with that. He recognised my general point about how "getting" a job can be more difficult for me than "doing" one because of the nature of interviews and the pool of competition employers can "cherry" pick from. Next extended session with (hopefully) the same advisor in a months time.

£50 fine for errors on benefits forms - Telegraph

The Telegraph has this story "£50 fine for errors on forms" citing a "civil penalty" imposed on people who are not attempting to defraud the State but who are "negligent" in providing details of their claims.

Comment 02/17/2011 09:46 PM - concerns implications "those for whom English is not a first language, dyslexic people, those with mental health issues who get confused", makes you wonder just how much more they seem to be trying to make disabled people targets.

Comment 02/17/2011 05:16 PM - says it all: "will Government Departments have to pay claimants/taxpayers compensation of £50 when they get their calculations wrong. No, thought not."

Anyway off to my early appointment!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

"Companies should provide alternative interview methods" on Debatewise

Found this site and this discussion of how alternative methods of interview, such as practical tests or work trials, may be an answer that should be considered for the "many extremely employable people with disabilities that affect their interview performance are being left out because of the inflexibility of the recruitment process".

The third point in favour of this specifically highlights Aspergers in that "traditional interviews are not designed for people with it as they involve high levels of stress". The paragraph highlights the often quoted stats of only 12% of people with Asperger currently in full time employment yet so many more being potentially employable overall.

A point in favour of traditional interviews was "A significant number of studies reveal that the first impression is in fact the last impression" with the paragraph stating "Confident people have a certain ambience, if a person wants a job you can see it from the way s/he strides into the room". Point being those of us with Asperger don't show this confident ambience and the counter-argument beside this paragraph is "It is fairly easy to be confident if you are good at blagging, yet be incompetent at the job. At the same time, you can be perfectly suited to do a job but be unable to express this confidently in an interview."

Monday, 14 February 2011

Volunteering opportunity likely to start soon

Well pleased at the moment, had an e-mail from one of the volunteering possibilities that I might be able to start with them on Monday 28th, helping out with putting their mailing list on a computer database. The secretary of the charity humourously admits that "Being of advanced years my computer skills are not brilliant".

Sunday, 13 February 2011

'Target' culture at Jobcentre

A member of Jobcentre staff had posted on the "Mistreated at job centre" thread on MoneySavingExpert, though the post already seems to have been deleted. It was about 'Target' culture, which has been a big buzzword in recent years and particularly in politics, telling advisors at the Jobcentre they "MUST be making 1 fraud referral per day". This is ludicrous, the poster was saying what if everyone they see that day is genuine, and seems to be one of the genuine advisors refusing to do that unless they have suspicions of a person and is also sensible in not submitting applicants for jobs where they are clearly unqualified and otherwise unsuitable.

Another advisor posted on this other thread about feeling their job is more about punishing than helping people, look at the next post by a jobseeker as well. I've been impressed with how ethical the people I've dealt with have been when I see these posts but I'm always a little wary. Further down the page there's someone saying "Don't work for the DWP, the wage is one thing but your conscience is another."

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Donal MacIntyre's radio investigation of New Deal provider

Someone's posted the whole of Donal MacIntyre's radio investigation of the largest New Deal provider on YouTube, which I found from links on this poll on MoneySavingExpert. I've just had a good listen all the way through.

Part 1, Part 2

Feeling on a particular downer tonight, signed on Friday, its now the end of Tuesday and its been a bad couple of days of job advertising.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Alcoholics' "disability benefits"

Monday morning, hoping the start of another week may be the week I get some good news.

Need a rant at the moment, was talking to my parents on phone last night they told me how they were on the bus at the weekend and these men who looked about mid 50s who seemed a bit drunk. They overheard the men talking about their "disability benefits" that they get for being alcoholics and this p***es me off so much, that they're getting full "disabilty" benefits for something which is self inflicted. I've got something I didn't ask to have, that isn't severe enough to put me on "disability" benefit as incapable of work, yet still means I'm not interviewers' first choices of person.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Sign on, news article spec application appreciated, plus meeting at volunteering office

Jobcentre appointment this morning. First thing in the portfolio was the speculative application from the news article and the advisor really liked how I'd done that. No reply from the company yet but he was impressed that I'd written off based on the article anyway. Next sign on will, as I thought, be one of the extended ones at the three month point and that's where they'll be reviewing things from the "Back to Work Session" so it'll be nice to present that application at that time too.

Straight after the Jobcentre I'd arranged a meeting at the local volunteering office just up the road. Its not just the money when out of work but the boredom and gap on one's CV that can accumulate. Doing voluntary work would help demonstrate my capability, commitment and work ethic, and the woman at the office could see I have a lot to offer and already has some potential matches.

Friday, 21 January 2011

News article speculative application

The local paper today had no interesting advertised jobs but was nice to see a news article in about a construction company winning a contract to build a large warehouse, so as was discussed at the "Back to Work Session" at the Jobcentre, I'm sending a speculative application to the company. I'm expecting another extended review with the Jobcentre at the point of 3 months since my last temp job so it will be nice to present that application as an action on the suggestion of the session.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The speculative letter debate

With reference to my post about the speculative application discussion in my Jobcentre Back to Work Session in December, here is a debate from MoneySavingExpert on said letters.

There's debate of the write / phone / visit issue:
Post 27 - Don't send CV''s no better than junk mail and gets filed accordingly. It also seems to be the 'easy answer' to job hunting. If you REALLY want a job, get your best clothes out, and come and knock on the door of people you wish to work for.

Post 28 replies - There is no right or wrong though - it is one suggestion that some will like and some won't, as is your suggestion of visiting places in person. What is proactive to someone is an irritant to another.

The author of post 27 that favours visiting adds post 31 - just do your homework on the company and pay them a visit, you have a way better chance and don't waste a fortune on stamps.

I expressed my reservations about visiting because of my own nervous body language that would likely blow my chances, post 32 says why it may not be good for the employer either - if someone came knocking at my door uninvited, interrupting what I was in the middle of and expecting me to drop everything and see them there and then at THEIR convenience, I'm afraid I'd be unlikely to view them as anything more than an irritant, regardless of whether or not they were wearing their best clothes. This poster would rather have a speculative letter because I will look through it at a time convenient to me, and with a cup of coffee to see me through. It'll probably provide quite a nice interlude in my day. If there was anything there of any interest, I'd persue it, or keep the CV on file until I needed it.

Another post from the one in favour of visiting - Sorry but getting up and going for a walk is far more pro-active than sending out a CV
countered by a very good point about premises security in post 34 - at my company you wouldn't get past security on a visit to our premises without appointment.

A lot of valid points raised in all sides showing that it is something there is no rights or wrongs about. Writing is still best for me though, and if they have an opportunity to interview then I'd at least be going with an appointment, and while I'd still have my nervousness, it wouldn't be as bad as if I turned up on spec which I just don't have the confidence to do.

Friday, 7 January 2011

MP jailed for expenses fraud

Glad to see the first MP involved in the recent expenses fraud jailed, BBC link here. While I'm in the unfortunate position of being a jobseeker, I don't condone anyone committing jobseekers allowance fraud or claiming without actively seeking work, but these MPs have a lot to answer for when they commit fraud too!

"Mistreated at job centre - filing a complaint" forum thread

Another forum thread "Mistreated at job centre - filing a complaint" on MoneySavingExpert. The original poster had taken their standard Jobcentre handwritten diary to their appointment but was criticised that it did not appear to be enough in a condescending tone, which the poster felt the advisor thought she was one of the lazy ones or someone who is not intellegent. The posts following are a mixture of attitudes, what does stick out is that it shows the handwritten diaries alone do not carry the corroborative weight of printouts of sent e-mails and posting receipts.

Post 28 replies "Just having a couple of things on there over 2 weeks between signings doesnt sound like you are doing enough to her and she is trying to press the fact that you need to be doing more to look for work. She could have handled it differently but imagine how many people pass her desk and show nothing or very little in the way of looking for work." The same amount of writing in the diary can be open to interpretation depending on the advisor and their current mood.

Post 47 is one of the more level headed and objective ones summing up the mix of unemployed people "those determined not to work, those redundant after years of work now losing self confidence, depressed, stressed about finances..... having to work in those places.... having to suggest jobs to people they don't think will have much change of getting them whether that's because they are over or under qualified....", ending, fairly I think, with that the advisor's advice was valid but her tone was wrong.

Post 71 is a member of Jobcentre staff saying "minimum requirements are 3 active steps each week and those steps must give reasonable prospects of finding work", I think acknowledging that doesn't necessarily mean 3 applications. I'd said in my last post about the back to work session how I've seen from other forum posts, especially there on MoneySavingExpert some staff do interpret it this way, which is why it can be as well to make up the numbers in speculative applications if insufficient advertised vacancies are found in a given week.

Anyway the thread is now on its fifth page ...