Saturday, 1 May 2010

A Quick Thanks

Thanks for all the help and advice I've received via email and other mediums.

Some of the advice was harsh, but probably fair. I've taken the majority of it on board, and shall definitely be putting it into action the very near future.

I've ditched the old CV, and with the assistance of a few people I'm close to completing a my new one.

I now have a fresh attitude to my search, a new CV, and a newfound optimism.



Friday, 30 April 2010

The Depressions Of Unemployment

For me, nothing's more frustrating than receiving a letter of rejection. Well, apart from finding a job to apply for in the first place.

If you've read any of my previous posts you'll know that I tend to receive rejections from companies on a fairly regular basis. If you haven't, during the average week I will receive between 5 and 10 rejection via post or email.

I'm beginning to feel the frustration and depression build with each rejection I receive, and at some point I can see this mutating into a more substantial form of depression. What worries me most is that I’ll reach a point where I simply can’t continue to get knocked back, such was the case in the recent tragic story of Vicky Harrison.

Vicky, 21, was an intelligent girl who had unsuccessfully applied for more than 200 jobs. She had good GCSE and A-Level results, and had also studied for a year at South Bank University in London before quitting due to not enjoying the course.

When back at her family home in Darwen, Lancashire, she started applying for jobs in her local schools. Vicky wanted desperately to get into teaching, and applied for jobs such as secretaries or dinner ladies, with the ambition of becoming a teaching assistant, with the ultimate dream of becoming a teacher.

Unfortunately, like many unemployed and educated young people, Vicky was unsuccessful in her attempts, and found herself lowering her sights somewhat. Desperate for money, with the paltry Jobseeker's Allowance not being enough, she found herself applying for jobs such as waitressing, shelf stacking, and she even found herself enquiring at fast food outlets such as McDonalds.

All of this was unfortunately in vain, and on March 31 Vicky was found dead in her lounge. This was the day after receiving her final rejection letter from a nursery.

She left two suicide notes; one for her parents and one for her boyfriend. They read: 'It's just that I don't want to be me any more.' and ''Please don't be sad. It's not your fault. I want everybody in life to be HAPPY.'

Her parents believe that these rejections, coupled with her lack of money, meant that Vicky had become increasingly 'humiliated' and 'upset' at being out of work for so long, and also at not being able to socialise with her friends because she couldn't afford it.

As an unemployed young person myself, I can totally relate to this story as I can understand the frustration and depressions of unemployment. Vicky was clearly a bright girl who deserved to have a job within our society. Our society failed her, and that ultimately cost her life.

Unfortunately cases such as Vicky’s will continue to happen as depression and suicidal tendencies don't appear to be rare within unemployed people, particularly the young.

In New Zealand, researchers have found that unemployment actually trebles the 'suicide risk', whilst the Princes Trust here in the UK has warned that 1 in 3 unemployed young people will, or have felt suicidal tendencies at some point during their unemployment.

In relation to the research carried out in New Zealand, the Samaritans have said that 'being isolated, not being part of a work community at all, can increase feelings of vulnerability', while the Princes Trust themselves believe that 'the emotional effects on young people are profound, long-term and can become irreversible.' and that 'we must act now to prevent a lost generation of young people'.

It's hard to disagree with either of those statements, but how can we go about preventing this from happening to other young people who feel depressed about failing in their job search?

In my opinion the whole unemployment benefits system needs to be looked at by our next government. I feel that it’s so bad and demoralising that I've managed to stave off 'signing on' for the past three months, but increasingly I do need money, and I can see myself surrendering soon.

The reason for my distaste towards this ‘service’ stems from my last period of unemployment. Following redundancy, which was traumatic enough, my local Job Centre managed to make me feel like a worthless piece of dirt; the majority of the staff looked down their noses at me, and just viewed me as a number, not a human.

Then there’s the 'help' that they claim to provide; it was absolutely useless. It took 6 months before I was invited to a one hour session explaining how to search for jobs, something that I’d already done solo for half a year. That was it.

If the Princes Trust are correct and there are thousands of young people who feel equally or more depressed than myself, something has to be done. There could be a lot more tragedies similar to that of Vicky Harrison if it isn’t.

I don’t believe it’d be difficult for the next government to soften the harshness of unemployment by providing a service that actually helps the unemployed back into work. Subtle changes such as Job Centres providing comfort and support, rather than humiliation and disgust, would help greatly.

By writing this post I'm not saying that I'm going to go down the same route as Vicky Harrison by any stretch of the imagination, but I can certainly see myself becoming increasingly depressed as the pressure of not finding employment builds.

I just hope that in the near future the government finds a way of supporting the unemployed, or they could well be more blood on their hands.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

I Wish I'd Dodged School To Watch Kilroy

Maybe we should have all watched Kilroy instead of bothering with school...

Incredibly, it's been 18 years it's since that episode was aired, and if it were not for the absurd fashion sense displayed in the audience, it could easily pass as an episode that aired earlier today, or even ten years prior to it if you believe what was said by 'Brian'.

I could spend/waste another hour or two of my life analyzing what was argued by each side, but it's pretty obvious what my opinion would be on this; an opinion similar to that of each of the graduates speaking.

I guess what this clip proves is that it's only a matter of time before things do pick up, but it's quite hard to keep believing that when, for me, it's been two years (as was the case for one of the graduates in the clip) and it's showing no signs of improving anytime soon.

Today I've applied for three jobs and followed up eleven job applications; no luck from any of them as of yet though. What I really need more than anything at the moment is a pick-me-up; just something to give me some confidence and optimism, you know.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Cost Cutting Deprives Job Candidates A Fair Chance

There’s nothing currently I welcome more than to hear from a company that I’ve applied for a job with. It’s often nice to know that they’ve taken time and effort to at least read my application, and at best consider me for their role. Unfortunately it’s very rare that this happens. I find it incredibly annoying that I spend so much time and effort completing job applications, and writing cover letters to accompany my CV only to never receive even an acknowledgement that my application has even been received. In my opinion that's rude, and it’s unprofessional.

Of course, that’s not to say that I always agree with companies that send me letters of rejection either. Due to the amount of applications I’m completing recently it unfortunately means that I receive rejection letters on a daily basis; on my desk I have two from yesterday, and in my email account I have five on the front page from the past week. Obviously I believe I was a suitable candidate for each of these positions, or I wouldn’t have applied, but I can also accept that the may have been stronger candidates than myself.

What I can’t accept though, is the rejection I recieved from PC World.

The application itself took almost an hour to complete. It was a frustrating, gritty, and prolonged process. This was mainly due to 6 long and arduous pages of questionnaires and personality tests in a tick box format. You know the type I mean; strongly agree, agree, slightly agree, slightly disagree, disagree, strongly disagree, none of which suit the answer you wish to give. All that was left after that were a few details that needed filling in; previous employment, contact details etc. Those details were presented in such a way that it seemed like a formality as I’d got so far, so imagine my surprise when I checked my emails and saw this sitting there:

Dear Craig

Re: part time Sales Customer Advisors

Many thanks for your application for the above position.

Unfortunately, your skills and experience do not seem to be a strong match for this role. I regret to inform you that we won’t be taking your application any further on this occasion.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in joining the team and for the time you’ve taken with your application. Please do not respond to this email as we are unable to reply to it.


PC World is part of Dixons Stores Group international Plc, one of Europe’s largest specialist electrical retailers. Our businesses also include, Currys, Pixmania,, Tech Guys, Dixons Travel and DSGi Business. We have retail and e-tail stores spanning 28 countries, employ over 40,000 people and more than 100 million customers shop in-store and on-line with us every year.

This reply was received within minutes (probably less!) of submitting my application for the vacancy. Considering that this application actually took me close to an hour to complete, how on earth someone at PC World was able to read my application form in that space of time and make a formal judgement on me and my suitability for the role actually beggars belief. That someone must be quite inept to believe that I don’t have the ‘skills and experience’ for the role bearing in mind that I have spent over 5 years within a retail environment, experience of targeted sales, and a vast amount of knowledge and experience using computers and other relevant technology. You’d think that’s pretty much everything you need to be a ‘part time Sales Customer Adviser’ at PC World.

Of course, that assumption has a massive flaw; maybe that someone was, ironically, a computer program; one that scanned my application and rapidly decided against offering me an interview at PC World.

Upon doing some research, I’ve fond that PC World (and many other recruiters) use an online recruitment program provided by changeworknow. These guys are apparently “specialists in online resourcing” who “reduce recruitment spend overall” for companies. Here’s a paragraph from their website:

Driving up quality, driving down admin

Our approach to high volume recruitment maximises the use of criteria based questionnaires with immediate feedback to help each candidate understand how well they fit the role profile and control the quality of the candidates presented to HR and branch managers. Our clients typically experience a 50-80% reduction of unsuitable candidates through self deselection, with a parallel reduction in administration and manual filtering.

There you have it, confirmation that my application was judged by a computer program. Despite me comfortably having the necessary experience for the role, I have been overlooked by PC World due to them seemingly cutting costs within their recruitment department, and opting for a cheaper/easier method of filtering applications.

It makes me wonder how many other companies have overlooked me, and other suitable candidates in the past due to programs and similar cost cutting methods such as this.

I do accept that companies such as PC World must receive a large amount of job applications, and need a way of filtering them efficiently. But I’m not sure that conducting an online test that doesn’t appear make sense in places, is the right way to go.

Still, they’re a helpful, intelligent bunch in PC World… aren’t they?

Thursday, 22 April 2010

'Forget The Horror Here...'

A decidedly apt song lyric that rings through my head whilst planning this blog post.

It’s true, my current situation does have a slight ambiance of horror about it, and it’s pretty difficult to forget about or put it to one side at the moment. That’s not to say that there haven’t been a few welcome distractions lately though.

Nothing has given me more enjoyment and reason to ‘forget the horror’ in the past few months than the performance(s) of my football team, Leicester City.

Just over a year ago we were celebrating promotion from the third tier of English football (League One) after what can only be described as an eternity of disappointment, and one season in particular of absolute despair. Promotion to The Championship meant that things were looking up for the first time in probably four or five years. I’d accepted that sometimes you have to take one step back, to take two steps forward. Make no mistake though, I wasn’t expecting our first season back in The Championship to be easy, far from it. I’d have taken survival by the skin of our teeth.

Leicester City celebrate winning the League One title

12 months on and we’re on the brink of sealing a playoff place; match or better the Blackpool result on Saturday at Preston (they hate Blackpool, don’t forget) and we’ll have secured our place.

Dreams of a Wembley final versus ****** have been repeating on me for a while now, but just recently they’re seeming distinctively vivid and real, 3-0 again please? Including that fantastic victory vs Forest, what we’ve achieved this season has been magnificent, regardless of what happens now. We’ve finally got ourselves a young, exciting, attacking team, with a manager that is surely, but sadly, destined for places greater than Leicester one day.

Nigel Pearson, the man who has changed everything

Even if we fail to win our last two games and fall out of the playoffs, we’ve installed some pride back within our once great club. I’m as proud as I’ve ever been to be Leicester, and I’m already looking forwards to next season, be it in The Championship, or the Premier League.

As implied at the start, it isn’t just football that has acted as a relief to my situation, music’s played a large part too.

After a dearth of new music of interest to myself, this week has started in spectacular fashion. Foals, Minus The Bear, The National, Band of Horses, and 65daysofstatic all becoming available in the space of just a few hours! All albums seem worthy of the decent reviews they’ve been receiving on the basis of what I’ve heard of them so far.

The six albums have been pretty difficult to fully digest in the past 36 hours or so that I’ve had them, but the one album that appears to stand out is ‘Total Life Forever’ by Foals. It’s fair to say that it’s dominated my playlists and play count.

After Foals’ debut album ‘Antidotes’, I have been eagerly awaiting this, and with stand-out tracks such as ‘Blue Blood’ (strangely enough), ‘After Glow’, and ‘Miami’ coupled with the already familiar ‘Spanish Sahara’ (featured below) and ‘This Orient’, my eager anticipation seems to have been fully validated.

Anticipation is also the reason for me being awake so late tonight (01.10am currently), Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings are made for LOST. Obviously I’m in the UK, so I have to wait for some kind soul to upload the episode to Rapidshare or similar for me to download. Otherwise I’d probably be watching it right now.

Tonight is episode 13, and apparently it’s not any particular characters ‘centric’, it’s ‘multi’. Hopefully this means we’ll start accelerating towards the finish line with regards to finding some answers. One of which is “why the hell did Desmond run Locke over in the alternate universe last week?” Was it to show him a flashback, as he has to Hugo? Or was it because he believes Locke to be evil in the alternate universe too?

I’m excited.

Unfortunately with only an hour to go until it’l be available, I’ve a busy day with the girlfriend tomorrow. I’d better get back to the ultimately unrewarding task of searching for employment online to make up for the loss of time tomorrow.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A Day Of Mixed News

Though the day is still fairly young, it’s been a day of mixed news so far.

A letter of rejection dropped on my door mat regarding the Wetherspoons job interview last week. It was a position that would probably never lead to a career or anything, but a bit of money would have been nice. Maybe that attitude came across in the interview leading me to be unsuccessful? Not sure what else they expect with the large turnover of staff they have. Still, at least they had the decency to let me know, albeit 8 days later.

On a brighter note, also dropping on my door mat was an application pack from the Youth Justice Board regarding volunteering on a Youth Offender Panel here in Kettering. It seems like a brilliant opportunity to help a good organisation, and hopefully it’s something that future employers will look upon favorably. It’s all filled out, and just needs posting now.

Youth Offender Panels help youth offenders see the error of their ways

Regarding paid employment, I’ve had a little scout about today on the job websites, and there seems to be nothing decent going again. I can’t see myself as a cleaner, and nor do i have the qualifications to apply for the role of senior mechanic. Shame.

This blogging business becomes quite addictive, doesn’t it.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Another Day, More Rejection, Fading Hope

Hundreds of applications, almost a dozen interviews, plenty of rejection. But this is possibly the hardest to accept.

This time I’ve been rejected for a volunteering opportunity. Yes, I’ve been rejected for an opportunity that I was willing to work wage-free.

I see volunteering as a last resort in a way; if no-one will take a chance on employing a graduate due to a lack of experience, surely someone will welcome me as a volunteer, so that I can gain that experience that most companies/organisations so badly crave, whilst giving something back to them and also to the community.

I’ve long been wondering why I actually bothered with University. Sure, I made some fantastic friends, I somehow managed to get myself a wonderful girlfriend, and I had the time of my life. But have I got a career and a future out of it yet? No.

Maybe it was the wrong course, maybe it was the wrong University… Or maybe something is desperately wrong with the education system in this country. I’ve got plenty of friends in a pretty similar position to myself. At best they’re in jobs that they see no future or career in for themselves, at worst they’re unemployed and desperate for that one chance such as myself. Why are we pushed towards University like it’s the holy grail of education, and the only chance of a very bright future? I’m sure it pays dividends for many people, but they appear to be very far and between from people I know.

What’s most ironic and twisted about this whole farce is that the no hopers from school (meant in the nicest possible way), many of whom failed to get into University, or were wise enough to avoid it, find themselves in stable jobs, progressing and developing their careers. Fair play to them, they obviously knew foresaw the problems that us stupid graduates would have, and gave themselves a head start. Experience seems to shit all over education at the moment.

Before, during, and since University (2005-2008) I’ve had three jobs. A part time job in retail which spanned from June 2004 until April 2009, a temporary job in the same store from September 2009 until December 2009, and a telesales job for two months after that. Since then, I’ve been unemployed.

Whilst unemployed I’ve had 8 interviews (2 bar jobs, 3 retail, 2 lettings/estate agents, 1 telesales); on 3 occasions I’ve ‘not had the experience required’, in 2 interviews (both of which stated that no experience was required!) the interviewer actually asked if I think I’m ‘overqualified’ (with my degree), later contacting me explaining that I’ve been unsuccessful. In the other 3 of those interviews they haven’t had the decency to get back to me afterwards.

It just seems that companies, in my case certainly, appear to either 1) require experience regardless of educational background, or 2) need someone who they can train up, without fearing for them leaving the company due to their academic background. It's a catch 22 situation.

I’m pretty much at a loss as to where to go from here. I’m confident that volunteering is the way forwards, whilst still applying for jobs as I have been. There’s a job at Bedford magistrates going, seems to be right up my street. Fingers crossed for that.



Unemployed & Educated © 2008. Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness