Finding a job

by richardhutton

The alternative to unemployment, of course, is to gain employment. If this was so easy, you wouldn’t be unemployed and in need of advice on how to survive it. So here are some handy pointers on seeking work for those profligate souls who are simply too lacking in character to succeed in lavish unemployment for very long.

Job Advice

You need a job, so how do you find one? Many unemployed individuals will have been offered lots of free advice from many different people (Like myself, for instance. Only more sincere). For example:

‘Find a job’
– Okay. How?
‘Get on your bike’.
– What bike? And where am I supposed to go?

And remember: this was given without payment being necessary.

In sum, it means being told what to think by people who don’t really know how to think. For this you may have no passion; but you’re going to have to cultivate a patience for it if you‘re to reap the benefits. There are several dimensions herein:

Training courses

(Being taught how to do something you already know how to do).

You know how to cook? Well, it’s not good enough without a basic food hygiene certificate. You’ve been to university? Well, fair enough – but do you have previous experience in handling petty cash? You’ve been a customer at many bars and nightclubs? This does not mean that you can pull a handle and fill a glass with ale at the same time.

The captious may quibble that such practices can be learned ‘on the job’; but the opinions of cavillers count for precious little here. Employers are looking for capable, dedicated staff; not people who merely have a qualification that will prove essentially useless without work experience; which you can’t get without qualifications; which you won’t be able to afford to undertake without a wage; for which you need to be employed. This is why employers value vocational experience so highly; and thereby refuse to provide prospective employees with the chance to gain it.

In short, if you want to be employed, you need to be qualified; and if you want to become qualified, then you need to be employed. You need to break the ice; and you can’t do this without having previously broken through it. That is, you need to be given an opportunity in order to make the most out of it; but you need to have made the most out of a previous opportunity in order to be given a first one. This much is clear and obvious.

Novices may come unstuck here, however – it may even seem like a hopeless catch 22 scenario which has arisen because people are lazy and unwilling to invest in apprentices properly – but take heart: there are plenty of places to go to for helpful, constructive advice.

Jobcentres

Patronising lectures on the theme of being financially ‘better off in work’ – which may or may not have escaped your attention hereto – are a stock in trade; and are frequently coupled with intermittent acts of heartlessness, petty cruelty and callous indifference, which are the hallmarks of most bureaucratic veterans (see ‘Lame Ducks’ elsewhere). Of course, you have no option but to attend to such matters anyway. To make the most of these opportunities: ask for highly specific advice on a regular basis with a tone of chipper, genuine interest in your voice. For example:

‘Can you give me some advice on writing a CV’
– Er, no. We can’t do that sorry. You’ll have to look around.
‘But it says I can ask you for assistance here?’
– That’s an old leaflet; it’s out of date now.
‘Okay, but do you know where I can go for help?’
– Well, no, sorry.
‘Do you know anybody who does?’
– No.
‘Do you know if there are any training opportunities available?’
– We don’t do any, no.
‘Do you know if there are any other places that do?’
– No.
‘Do you know anybody who does?’
– No.
‘Okay. Well thanks anyway’.

As bad as other peoples’ manners may be, yours are only ever going to improve – and much to your own chagrin. If you were more ruthless you wouldn’t struggle for employment.

Employment Agencies

Making the most of these requires a new lexicon. Novices may find themselves flummoxed by what at first hearing seems like a baffling array of terms and terminology. For example:

‘Do you stand out from the crowd?’
– Not really.
‘Are you pro-active?’
– Well, no. I don’t think so.
‘Do you have any particular strengths?’
– Not particularly, no.
‘What would you say are your weaknesses?’
– Do you mean vices? I have to admit them? Is that really necessary? Well, I can’t resist French accents and monocles…

And so on. The flaw here is not taking the questions literally enough – or perhaps taking them too literally, and believing that the questions themselves are meaningful and have a genuine purpose. This is the error of a beginner. The key is to read between the lines – literally: to see a blank space, and then attempt to fill it with something of comparable value. Metaphors and similes are helpful beyond measure. To wit:

‘Do you stand out from the crowd?’
– Yes; in fact I make a conscious point of it.
‘Really? How?’
– By never flocking with the herd in the first place.
‘Excellent. Excellent. Now, are you pro-active?’
– Yes; absolutely. In fact you might even say that I’m so pro-active I’m actually pro-pro-active. One day – God willing, and with enough patience, practice, time and investment – I may make the grade my own, and become pro-pro-pro-active. Literally’.

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