When I was made redundant in 2001, it was only the second time I had to ‘sign on’ and become a Government Statistic of the unemployed.
My previous experience in 1981 hadn’t been too bad, and I found a temporary position after about 5 weeks. This lasted over six months until I found permanent work.
Leaving the area in 1989 after a failed relationship, I was out of work for 2 days.
On the Monday I had an interview at a temp agency, which proved fruitless.
Tuesday morning, I had an interview with another where they sat me down at a computer for a competency test. A job came in on their books, but because I had no computer experience, I wasn’t considered suitable.
Tuesday afternoon I had yet another interview with a third agency.
The same job came in, and ‘Paula’ would not let me leave her office until she got my foot through the company’s door.
I started work Wednesday morning as a temp, and within a fortnight had been offered a permanent position. I was with the company over 12 years, and had two good promotions in the duration.
Naturally, when I was made redundant, I contacted the agency that had got me my initial job. Paula sadly had left many years before and the attitude of the member of staff who dealt with me boiled down to the fact that she thought I was too old, and didn’t fit the ‘company’ shape.
OK, it didn’t help that I was at my heaviest of 260lbs, but comments like that didn’t exactly boost my confidence at being ’employable’.
The girl who handled my case at the Job Centre was lovely though.
She was sympathetic without being trite, and was positive about any vacancies or applications that were of interest.
In those days, you had to keep a record of all jobs you had applied for (a minimum of 3 a week) between the fortnightly job centre appointments. I didn’t get any help with expenses for bus fares or stamps, but I did keep copies of everything I sent off and one week I applied for 12 jobs.
I felt like ramming her biro up her ass and her blotter down her throat.
It was bad enough being out of work, through no fault of my own I might add, but to have such sarcasm and spite from a so-called professional, almost reduced me to tears.
It was frustrating writing and sending off so many applications but getting nowhere.
My stats were for every 15 letters sent, I might get one reply (not so much as an acknowledgement or ‘No thanks’ from the majority), then for every 10 replies I might get one interview.
I was out of work for over 3 months, and in all that time I got just 2 interviews, but no job offer.
They stopped my benefit because they said I hadn’t followed up on one of their own recommendations. I produced a copy of the letter I had sent off the day they gave me the details and eventually got my money.
I answered an ad in the local community news by email with my CV attached, and didn’t hear anything for weeks.
When I got a phone call asking me to attend an interview, I’d forgotten all about it.
My interviewers were fed up.
I appeared to be the best of a bad bunch, and they were cheesed off with the usual questions, so asked me to tell them a joke.
I eventually recalled a clean one from the 1000 Jokes for Kids range. It wasn’t all that funny, but it was different and when I think of bananas, I smile.
I was then tested on a PC scenario and spreadsheet, and an hour later, I was on my way home.
I got the job, and was there for over 5 years.
I did not sign on when I left my last job seven years ago as basically we were doing OK and learned to live frugally.
Besides, having a small private pension would have meant a reduction to any benefit, I had a little in savings so probably wouldn’t have qualified anyway, and on top of that, for my ‘experience’ I would have been expected to travel to the larger towns to work for the minimum wage. Some of these were over 50 miles away, so it was not cost-effective.
With the later changes in who could claim, penalties if you didn’t comply with new regulations, and being expected to attend the Job Centre every day (it was 15 miles away) plus it was assumed you had a computer and internet access, to be honest, it just wasn’t worth the hassle as we would actually have been worse off.
By chance, we passed a recruitment agency yesterday, and there was a position in their window that seemed tailor-made for me.
I took my CV in this morning, had a very nice chat with the girls, and am now waiting to see if the company concerned may be interested in giving me a shot.
Hubby doesn’t mind, and if I don’t like it, or can’t hack it anymore, I can always leave.
I’m still old, and probably still not the right shape, plus I doubt if I have the correct wardrobe anymore as we have few clothes now after disposing of everything too old, worn or too big.
If I’m successful, one of the first questions will be about the work dress code.
(All images courtesy of Google).