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.