Monday, July 25, 2016

Job hunt 10 things I'm sick of hearing

Here's a tip, unless you've been job hunting in the last, oh I don't know let's say year/2 years let's assume you don't have any direct authority to comment on exactly how to job hunt right now?

Yes. I am annoyed. At this point I'm not sure what raises my blood pressure and/or makes me cry more, the job hunt itself or people commenting on it. So here are 10 things I am sick of hearing as a post-PhD-post-year in job- job hunter.

1. Have you thought about teaching? 

Reasons this is annoying/insulting. 1. I have a PGCE. I was a teacher, I chose another route. It's not as easy as 'just walk back into the classroom', there are fewer jobs in my subject (s) and given I trained 6 years ago those who have worked in the classroom since then would (rightly) get the jobs. Secondly it's an insult to all the hardworking teachers out there to say 'Oh why don't you just go an teach' as if it's an acceptable 'fall back' for anything. For the record, I'm a good teacher, but teaching in secondary schools isn't for me, and kids deserve better.

2. You're being too picky

I can assure you I'm not. Have you seen the job market? there's not a lot to be picky from.

3. You think you're better than some of the jobs, if you needed a job you'd take anything.

Listen, I have no shame when it comes to paying my bills. I have worked in supermarkets, coffee shops, pubs I have even shovelled horse poo to earn money. As a Support Worker I took notes on lectures I had WRITTEN for nearly minimum wage. I worked alongside students I was teaching pulling pints, and a pulled pints for my students. I just toughed out a year in a job where I frequently went home crying. I repeat, I have zero shame and zero standards when it comes to just getting by.

4. You want too much money. 

Firstly, see above. When it comes down to it, I will take minimum wage, zero hours, whatever I will get.

Do I think I deserve a salary that is, as they say 'commenserate with my skills and expereince' yes, of course. Do I think that's a lot of money? no not really.

5. You've been a student forever you have to go in at the bottom. 

I respectfully disagree. I have over 8 years of (consistent) professional experience/employment. I did a few years as a basic admin person, I am as mentioned a trained teacher, I taught in HE for 4 years (while doing other jobs alongside) and I have also a year in a higher-level development role. I don't expect to go in anywhere as head of department (hell I don't want that job anywhere anyway!) but I do expect to do a role that fits my skills and experience. But again, see 3, I'm not that fussy when it comes down to it.

6. If you're not willing to move, it's your own fault. 

Firstly, it's more complicated than just 'up and move'. Moving costs money for a start. Secondly there are all kinds of reasons why a person might not/could not move. Thirdly, sometimes a life is more important than a job. Fourthly, I've never said never, BUT I'm also not moving for just any old job. (For the record I constantly look at jobs all over the country, and apply for them but just because they exist doesn't make me any more likely to get them than ones on my doorstep less so in fact, because if a job is 5 minutes away an employer knows you can start pretty soon)

7. What about moving abroad? 

Sure, I'd love to! except most countries have preferential hiring for their own citizens and I'm also then competing with all of the USA/Canada/Australia as well. Oh and Europe is already becoming a bit skeptical of British applicants, thanks Brexit people.

8. So have you tried applying for jobs as a lecturer?

No really, it never occurred to me.

9. How about temping?
I'm aware of it thanks. First of all it's a hellish experience I wouldn't wish on my enemies (well some of them). Second since I last temped (7 years ago) I don't know if you noticed but our economy kind of went to hell? so whereas then I could walk into an agency at 8 and be working by 9, now agencies ignore emails and there's 3 listings on their websites. Sure in London you can kind of still do it, and yes I am registered with agencies but it's not an easy way to pick up work anymore.

10. Oh I'd love to have time off like you
Don't get me wrong, after a really tough few years I'm enjoying  a break. However a break is hard to enjoy when you have no idea when you'll next earn something.

Now don't get me wrong, I like people asking how it's going. I actually do, because it shows they care, it shows they're interested. And a sympathetic 'Oh I hear it's tough out there' or even a 'My (friend-son-husband-wife-whatever) had a really tough time of it too, but they did find something' those are great, that's empathy, it's sympathy and it's not forcing an opinion. And of course if I ASK for advice and/or want to talk and you are willing to lend an ear, brilliant! I have a friend who is a nurse, we work in completely different sectors but she is always willing to just listen and offer general sympathy/commiseration. That's all brilliant.

But the thing is, I have already gone down every avenue, done all the research I can. I know my area, I know where jobs are advertised. I've read all the guides and 'tricks' to getting hired (like putting employment first before qualifications so people aren't 'scared off' my by PhD).

And I also know that some of you sit there and judge me. Think I was 'just a student' while I did my PhD and now 'deserve' the 'reality' of the 'real world'. I never stopped working, I continued professional and survival jobs while I did my PhD. Once more for the cheap seats in the back I HAVE ALWAYS WORKED.  What's more I've always gone from job to job with barely a break in between. Unfortunately the economy keeps going from bad to worse, the sector(s) I work in keep getting hit even harder than others so it's even more difficult than even just a year ago.

Also for the record, I didn't lose my job because I was bad at it. It was a fixed term contract that many people fought hard to renew/extend but it just wasn't possible.

Now all that said, the support from fellow post-PhD types, other HE types, other arts sector types has been glorious. The sending of potential jobs, the other blog posts that echo my experience the tweets and the coffee dates. All glorious. Help and support is SO appreciated. BUT if I politely say I've tried X or Y or it's not for me, please accept that.

And one last thing, if I say I've applied for a job that I don't really want but it 'will do' the nicer response is 'I'm sure it wouldn't be that bad' or 'well it would only be temporary' saying 'Oh god that sounds awful, oh no really awful' is not a bloody helpful response.