OK, so I'm not actively job hunting at the mo - would make no sense given that I don't get home for another 8 weeks, but I do keep my eyes on the Sheffield job market to see what kinds of roles and wages are on offer there. There seem to be plenty of them around, but you wonder sometimes if you'd ever fit into their idea of what the ideal candidate should be.
From an advert I've just read, the right person is someone with extensive experience of doing the same thing and 'a stable work history'. Others say things like 'sustained recent experience'. So, what they seem to want is someone who's been doing essentially the same job for the past 5-10 years, preferably longer, and has no career changes or breaks to mar their record. That would seem to exclude anyone who had a long-term illness (they may get it again, or another one), went on career break travels (lack of commitment), had a baby (might leave to have another baby and then decide family comes before work - dreadful!), decided to change industries or even whole career directions (unreliable and unsettled), got made redundant (must have been a poor employee - who'd let a good person go?) and couldn't find a suitable permanent position (see? Clearly not good enough for anyone to consider) for quite some time or other everyday scenarios like these.
The above also nicely excludes anyone who has the potential to pick up the job extremely quickly and be as good as anyone else at it within a fortnight! This is something that really gets to me. Often, when I've sent my CV to employment agencies, I've got the reply, 'Sorry, we currently have no vacancies that match your experience.' Actually, I have considerable office work experience, all the required skills, the potential to do the job very well and the aptitude to learn new things very quickly and an eye for high quality work (which some of these high flying secretaries don't have if the quality even of plain letter typing I've seen is anything to go by!). However, all they see is my having spent most of the last decade in teaching and they consider me unsuitable. In the absence of recent experience, skills and especially potential and aptitude count for NOTHING!
Seems in order to be seriously considered for anything other than temping (and even that can be hard to get into at times, esp when the job market is tough and competition is fierce), you have to have already done the job you're interested in and, preferably, be now prepared to accept less pay for it. A couple of years ago I saw a PA position advertised offering minimum wage! They wanted all the skills and experience required to get into £20000+ top positions, but they were only prepared to give £5.73 an hour for it, which is around £11K. Double it to start with, pal! I wonder if they ever got anyone at that rate? Still, that was at the worst of the recession, so it could well be that they managed to fill the post at that rate. At least someone could work there for a year or so and then apply for a good job with previous PA experience from that miserly company.
When I look at the best agencies who offer the kind of posts I'd be interested in, I know they wouldn't consider even registering me for temp work owing to my not having been in admin and secretarial since 2001. When you know you have the potential to wipe the floor with even some of the most experienced people, this is a bit galling, I can tell you! On the brighter side, I did do 4 weeks temping in autumn 2008, so there's something recent at least, but that was with Reed and their lack of professionalism really put me off registering with them again unless in the most desperate of circumstances.
Anyway, when we get back I'll be concentrating on about 3 agencies who seem to be a bit better and at least one of which deals with language related posts. Whilst I don't have fluent European languages (and no-one thinks of hiring a Brit when they need Chinese language skills, they get a Chinese person with a UK university MA or MBA instead!), they may need temps for some of these companies later on and who knows if someone like me with at least some knowledge might not be in with a better chance than most? I plan to improve my German (which seems to be in surprising demand in the area), brush up my rusty French and get back to Italian over the next few years. I'm really interested in Spanish as well, and so is hubby, but I think for me it's falling behind the other 3. Language related jobs in Sheffield have been asking for French, German and Italian though, so it's not too bad a choice.
Then, of course, you have the question of 'what consitutes fluent French/German/etc?' Some say that means speaking the second language as well as you do your first, but I know that's not true. That's fully bilingual and probably means you grew up with the two languages, like an Italian girl in my class last term who was sent to German language schools in Rome as a child as her parents wanted her to know more than Italian from as early an age as possible. Her German is now as good as her Italian. Another definition of fluent is to be able to speak without constant breaks or straining to find words etc and that what you say is correct enough to be easy to listen to - not that you know every word going and never make a mistake! I described it recently to a former student of mine as 'not knowing everything in the language, but using what you do know so well that no-one can tell the difference'!! I guess that'll have to be my aim with Euro-languages!! Anyway, for shorter term roles, companies are less likely to be overly concerned about that than keeping up to the necessary everyday running of their business whilst their regular person is on their happy hols.=)
Anyway, I just wanted to gripe a bit!!!=)
Finishing up some older projects
5 weeks ago