Posts Tagged 'work'

He’s Just Not That Into You

So Mr J and I watched the movie He’s Just Not That Into You the other day. Bit mainstream compared to our usual selection, but I like a chick flick every now and then. I have to say though; I wasn’t impressed with this one! 

Now I’m not much of a feminist, but the women in this movie give women everywhere a bad name, in my opinion. Needy, obsessive, untrusting, etc… Regular bunny boilers, frankly! Not that the men fared much better: Heartless, cheating users the lot of them!

What I did take away from the movie though was a lesson about expectation management and realising you are probably not the exception and are far more likely the rule. The opening sequence covers this well by highlighting how well-meaning friends and family always help us to look on the bright side: If he didn’t call you back it’s probably because he likes you and doesn’t know how to act. Maybe he’s married, but you can’t choose when or who you fall in love with and maybe he’ll leave his wife and you’ll both live happily ever after. Etc etc etc. You can imagine the rest! 

But anyway, I got to thinking: This exact same situation applies to today’s students. I blogged  recently about my expectations of them but what about theirs? There is no one person responsible for managing their expectations: We all play a part. We tell our kids to work hard and they will get a good job. Same with our teachers and lecturers – Get good grades and you will get a good job. Same with peers – ooh you’re so much cleverer than me; you’ll be fine! But plenty of students work really hard, get really good grades and still end up in entry level / retail positions when they graduate. And the reality may not be as depressing as the press implies. And there may be employers still struggling to find candidates of the right calibre for their graduate schemes. But it is tough nonetheless and no-one ever tells them quite HOW tough it might be. No-one tells them they might have to consider starting out in a more junior position and on a lower salary. No-one tells them they’ll probably need to be flexible when they start out and work their way up. No-one tells them.

There are those who ought to (deserve to?) succeed more than others and there are those who succeed against the odds. And sometimes I wonder whether the reason for this is expectations. Maybe sometimes those who should succeed don’t because the reality of the world of work and finding employment has just totally floored them.

But who’s to blame? Well, in my humble opinion, we all are.

Don’t be a Smug Git

So I like to think I’m reasonably tolerant of cold calls from recruiters. They are calls that I myself sometimes have to make and I hate when people give me  the run-around rather than just saying from the word go that they’re not interested. But you know what? If you’re going to cold call any company, then try and retain some form of professionalism and don’t be a smug, arrogant git!

The website of my recruitment-related employer often attracts agency phone calls. We’re very niche and, while we do often recruit in-house, we also recruit for external positions and, if you don’t look at our website properly, it can be an easy mistake to make.

Of course; if you read the website properly it’s screamingly apparent…

So anyway, yesterday I had a phone call from an agency (who shall remain nameless… for now!) touting for business. I didn’t have to, but I took the call. The guy made his pitch, spoke about a specific role we were advertising for, told me how he had looked at our website (looked perhaps, but not read…), and asked whether we’d be interested in utilising his services. Though he had read the job ad, he had clearly done no further research on the company. He didn’t understand what we were or what we did. I explained that we wouldn’t be interested and why. I explained what the company is about how we work. I was, in my humble opinion, perfectly polite, friendly and helpful – if you know me then you’ll know it’s not generally my style not to be.

At the end of the conversation – clearly annoyed by his lack of success – he opted to take the sarcastic, smug approach and closed with “Oh, I see. Well in that case, I suspect the job you’re advertising is for XXX company – thanks for the heads up on that!” [Note: For this to really work, when you imagine him saying it in your head, you have to imagine a really smug, stupid voice and, at the end, a really fake, self-satisfied laugh]

Well there was no need to speak to me like that. And, actually, it wasn’t for XXX company at all…

…But thanks for the lead! ;)

A Bit About Students

Oops! Bit behind with my blog posts in 2010, sorry! I’ve lots of great excuses for this of course, but I won’t bore you with them!

So my main day job is recruiting quantity surveyors, but at the moment I’m also working with some final year business school students at a university on the outskirts of London. It’s a pilot scheme on employability which I’ll tell you about it in more detail some other time, but over the last couple of months I’ve been spending two days a week meeting students, staff and so on.

Now the public sector is a bit of a change of pace for me and, I won’t lie, I find it highly frustrating at times! But the first time I met some of the students it really clicked for me and I totally get it now. They make it all worthwhile! The kids (I call them kids but, of course, they’re 20/21 so hardly kids! In fact, it’s just occurred to me how patronising that is so I’m going to stop calling them that starting from now!) The students are great – they are polite, articulate young adults who are passionate about their subjects and are working their butts off to get the best degrees they can. They know the job market isn’t great and they are worried about what’s going to happen to them after they graduate, but they’ve got so much work to do before graduation that it’s just not that high on their radar.

It’s been really interesting to see the different stages they’re all at. The common feeling amongst university staff is that most of the students have part-time jobs already but, while some do, I haven’t found this to be true on the whole. In fact, I’ve met some students who have never held any kind of employment, ever; some who don’t have CVs; and some who don’t even know what covering letters are! And this has really got me thinking – there is just so much pressure on the younger generation these days!

When I was young (after the days of black and white television, but before the days of the iPods) you got a job as soon as you could. Whether it was a paper round, a waitressing job, or working in a shop, everyone was at it, so by the time you entered the world of full-time work it wasn’t really that much of a shock to the system. At 15 I was (possibly illegally, with hindsight…) working weekends in a cafe and, with the exception of some periods while I was backpacking, I have always held a job since. In fact, it was really only five years ago when I moved in with Mr J that I stopped having a full-time job and a part-time job on top of that too. These days it doesn’t seem to work like that though and the more students I meet, the more I understand this. Because it’s not just about how good your degree is these days, for some graduate schemes you also have to have the right number of UCAS points to even be considered. So really, once your GCSEs are out the way, you’d better knuckle down if you want to get the right kind of graduate job when you’re 21/22!

What pressure! When did we start being so tough on our kids? When did we stop valuing work/life experience and start focusing so heavily on academia? And how can we possibly expect 15/16 year olds to know what they want to do five or six years down the line, particularly when they don’t know anything about the working world?! I met one girl who’s wanted to be a family law solicitor since she was 13. What amazing focus and passion she has! How amazing that she has always known what she wanted to do! But law is highly competitive and for her dream to become a reality she’s had to work non-stop since her GCSEs. With the exception of the odd week of work experience, she’s never had a job – she’s never had time. Because there are those of us who are able to get a first class honours degree with relative ease, and there are those of us who have to bury our heads in our books solidly for three years in the hope of even getting a 2:1.

On one hand, meeting the students has been a scary business: The starting point for helping them to find jobs is way before where I expected it would be. But on the other hand I totally understand their quandary and I feel as though there’s so much more we need to do for them. “We” the educational establishments, “we” the potential employers, “we” the parents.

Now. Where to start…?

From 2009 to 2010

So here we are: New Years Eve, 2009! Well it’s has been a challenging year for me. Though not much more than 2008 was, it has to be said! It started ok with my having survived a round of redundancies, and our taking a holiday to Poland (which I can highly recommend – even in the depths of winter!) Sadly though, by March my hours had been cut to three days a week and things were pretty tough. It’s been challenging financially but I’ve been perversely grateful for it in some ways: Mr J and I had to make our lifestyle a lot leaner and, you know what? Turns out we used to burn a lot of money we really didn’t need to. We’ve learned to entertain ourselves without having to spend £50+ a time to do it, and it’s made us re-evaluate our priorities. Also, while I may not always act like it on the surface, I am eternally grateful for still having my three days a week. It’s three days more than some people have and we’ve just about been able to survive on it.

April was probably the hardest month. We were still coming to terms with our new frugal lifestyle and at the same time my Dad finally got a definite date for the brain surgery he was in need of. Neither my sister or I were living particularly close to my parents at the time and my Mum also had my Grandmother to look after. Thankfully we were all able to take time off work and get through it as a family. We have laughed and cried together and I’ve never felt closer to any of them than I do now – my Dad in particular.

The summer brought my own health issues but thankfully nothing too serious, and by Autumn things were looking up a little with weddings galore to attend! We also managed a “staycation” to Yorkshire thanks to some wonderful family friends, and waved goodbye to some of my best and oldest friends who have gone off travelling around the world. Travelling in your late 20’s / early 30’s is very en vogue with my friends right now, dontcha know!

Never a dull moment, October brought new challenges when I dropped to two days a week work for a while. This was totally crippling for us financially and for a while we weren’t sure how we were going to make the mortgage payments. We re-evaluated our outgoings (again) and managed to shave some more off our monthly expenditure, but thankfully it didn’t last long and I’ve since managed to pick up some freelance bits and pieces too, which will hopefully see us right for a while. Since November things at work have definitely been on the up. My employer has had two good months (though not on the recruitment side, sadly) and things seem to be stabilising slightly. Long may it continue!

@Animal (one of the people I follow on Twitter) asked the other week who was crazy enough to be grateful for 2009. Well I am and I’m not. I’m grateful that everyone I love has lived through the year and, depressing as that may sound, I don’t see it that way – I think it’s something to be pretty grateful for! I’ve also had to grow up a lot and re-evaluate my life and priorities. Some of them surprised me, some of them didn’t. Like it or not though, I’m a better and stronger person for the exercise. Even if I have shed a lot of tears in the process!

I’ve no idea what 2010 has in store for me and I’m not prepared to make any predictions either! What will be, will be! So here’s to the new year and whatever it may hold. Bring it on – I’m as ready as I’ll ever be! :)


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About Me

Over ten years’ recruitment, employability, HR and sales experience in both the private and public sectors. I've worked in construction recruitment, FMCG headhunting, and in higher education on the employability agenda.

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