Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Old Dogs. New Tricks




Having worked for a company for 32 years I was made redundant in 2009. Hurt and angry at the time I proved they failed to fairly apply company selection procedures during the process and won damages from them. At the time I was confident about the future. We had good insurance cover to protect us financially and I had many years of experience working for one of the UK's most respected companies in an area which was both high pressured and had many transferable applications for the skills I used. Things were getting tough in the job market but I was convinced I would be back in a job in a fairly short time. I had bags of experience, bags of drive and lots of technical skills. I wanted to work. I wasn't one of those workshy wasters who would live off benefits. The next few months carefully removed all of my conceits. Not only didn't I get a job, I didn't get any interviews either despite applying for hundreds of jobs. 

The introduction to benefits through jobseekers allowance and the joys of JobCentre plus and its institutional bureaucracy, while giving me the occasional chance to post a rant or make fun of the ludicrous side of the situation, soon took its toll of my good humour and tolerance. The lack of any improvement in my situation and the absence of any hint of potential jobs soon began to erode my self-confidence. The absence of interviews or indeed responses to applications across that winter though made me even more determined. Surely something would come my way?

For the last few years of my employment I had volunteered in the children's hearing system and my employer had been given an award for their support of my participation. I found this role really rewarding and realised that ideally I wanted to take my career away from big business towards this direction but unfortunately, I also realised that financially I couldn't afford to do this because of the commitments of mortgage and modern life. Now, with a redundancy package and solid insurance protection behind me, I wanted to make that move so much of my efforts went in that direction.. Despite my best efforts this continued to bear no fruit so I was forced to combine job applications back into my previous employment arena. Hundreds, maybe even thousands, of applications elicited no response, not even the acknowledgement that they had been received. Those who did respond listed lack of formal qualifications, failure to meet specific criteria and worryingly, lack of recent employment history. This final comment more than any other caused me some real despair and certainly many sleepless nights. Despite that, I rewrote and rewrote my CV numerous times, tailored each application to the specifics of the job advert and continued hammering home application after application, sometimes eight or 10 a day, week after week, month after month.

When I started applying for jobs I looked for salaries around the earnings I'd been making. By the end of the year I'd reduced my expectations by 20%. As time went on and more and more applications disappeared into the void those expectations reduced and reduced 25%, 30%, 40% and finally 50% but still there was no sign of any takers.

 
Finally, a week ago I had an interview. This, in the area of social services that I so desperately wanted to get into, was for part-time work, but by this time all insurance cover had ended and I have never been entitled to any financial benefits beyond 26 weeks of unemployment benefit long since ended. The interview seemed to go well but as is the way with these things, you can never tell.

Last night, I got a phone call from my interviewer offering me a job. Not just the part-time job had applied for, but a full-time job in recognition that I have the kind of potential they are looking for. I was stunned, in fact I still am. Finally, someone other than family and friends, believes in me. Two bloody years of Purgatory but finally somebody believes in me.

At last. 

Once all the checks have been done to allow me to work with vulnerable groups and once my references have been received I will be back in the land of the working and finally my working life will be moving in the direction and  in the kind of area I want. I will be working with people suffering from autistic spectrum disorders.

Time for this old dog to learn some new tricks!

See you later.

Listening to.

20 comments:

The Gaelic Wife said...

Wonderful news! And working with austistic folks is something very few people seem really capable of. Way to go, Alistair!

Alistair said...

Thanks GW. Like I say - I'm stunned. {and very grateful and a bit humbled too}

Nicky said...

Wow, Alistair, that is fantastic news! Congratulations, I'm thrilled for you. Your story is gut-wrenching, and one that I know I would be writing if I were in your shoes. I too would find it unbelievable that with those skills and work ethic you could be unemployed for so long. So chuffed to hear your amazing news though. I hope you celebrate well for the rest of the week. And heck, maybe into next week too!

jono said...

Oh man I couldn't be happier for you. I know I don't really know you in the RealLife(tm) sense of the word but one thing has been clear from the beginning was that unemployment was slowly eating away at you. To hear that not only are you turning a page in that respect but to be moving into en entirely new and rewarding arena is simply wonderful. I wish you (and G of course) all the best.

I'll raise a glass for you later!

dbs said...

Fantastic! I believe in you too.

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

I really feel so happy for you Alistair, it's a wonderful feeling to be accepted back into the working community, I know, I've been where you were.

The upside is working with Autistic/Asbergers disorder affected people. I've had quite a few in my classes over the years, and as you develop techniques to contact the person, you realise how much potential is under that shell.

Well done again, I'm sure you'll be a great success.

Keep up with the blogging though.

Morning's Minion said...

I read your good news this morning, snugged up by the living-room fire with my laptop--and wrote a congratulatory note--which blogger promptly swallowed up.
You have journaled the struggle of dealing with unemplyment, done it well I think, not hiding the anger, despair, discouragement, but also finding and recounting constructive ways to bide your time. J. has been mostly self-employed, which has its own pitfalls, but I recall a time years ago when he had applied for a job for which he was well-qualified--and was passed over for a man equally able, perhaps, but more a part of an inner circle. This sort of thing is very damaging to one's self-esteem.
I'm glad this present opportunity for you is in a field where you have great interest as well as a good background.
I daresay we may see a bit less of your fine writing on the blog, at least as you settle into your new routine. I hope it goes well.

Antares Cryptos said...

That's fantastic! Really happy to hear that.
Congrats!

coastkid said...

Great news Al!, Well done!, your hard work has paid off, fancy a pint on Thursday to celebrate? -:)

Alistair said...

Thanks everyone -I'm chuffed to say the least. It will take a lot of pressure off us financially too. I just hope I'm up to it, it's so radically different to what I've done before.

It's been a long time coming and long term unemployment does eat away at your soul. I think I understand better what some people are facing and maybe haven't coped so well with because they haven't had the coping mechanisms and the support I've had to get me through
I hope that it won't affect the blogging too much - hopefully it will do the reverse and will energise and spur me on further.

CK - I think that would be a great isea!

Jane said...

Bloody brilliant! That's all..

diamond dave said...

Congratulation on your new job. Having recently been through a lengthy spate of unemployment and sporadic employment, I understand exactly how it eats away at you and your soul. And the unbridled joy when you suddenly find yourself gainfully employed again.

And love the choice of music. I burned myself out on most of Pink Floyd some time ago, but that's one of the tunes I still like to hear from time to time.

Alistair said...

Cheers Dave. Unemployment has without doubt been one of the worst experiences of my life and I am so glad it's going to be over soon. Thankfully I have an incredible partner who has been so supportive otherwise I honestly think I would have folded under the strain.

I didn't touch PF for a few years but find myself more and more coming back to their stuff. Like you this is one of my favourites too.....

Thanks man.

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on your blog.....

Grats on the job. I was out of work for a couple years as well (8 months of that in West Lothian in the way of coincidences). It's a real eye-opening and distressing experience but one that I am glad, in the end, I went through. It forces a focus on what is really important, and what you really want.

Good luck!

Alistair said...

Hi and thanks for the comment. Unemployment is a bugger to be sure. Unfortunately lots more seem to be going to experience it too......

Thanks again. Drop by anytime.

Rebecca S. said...

Good news Al! It seems that job was waiting for you, and in that light, perhaps it is easier to forgive all the other thousands of nitwits who didn't give your CV the time of day. I am so thrilled for you and for your lovely G as well. I'm sure she is relieved and happy for you. When do you start?

Alistair said...

Thanks Rebecca - my Dad used to say {too often} 'What's for you won't go past you'.

Maybe I get it now. At least I hope that's it!

lom said...

Well done Alistair, 'All things come to those who wait'

Alistair said...

It's a huge relief lom. Christmas has come early.......

The Clever Pup said...

That warms the cockles of my heart. Good on ya Alistair.

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