Sign On, You Crazy Diamond

Once again, I'm joining the ranks of the unemployed. To give myself a reason to get up, I've decided to take notes.

21/09/2005

As for my job search, the one I really wanted turned me down for reasons best understood by them. Apparently, I didn't have enough of the right kind of experience, which is odd as I've done much the same job for about 6 years out of the past 12. any hoo...

Was offered a second interview at the place in Leeds but I said no. The world of corporate credit checking isn't quite me, and I definitely don't want to have to go back to wearing a tie every day, while working in a glass 'n' pine utopia, in a big office surrounded by motorway.

So, it's back to the dole office. Thinking I was being clever, I put my CV on a recruitment website with a clear message explaining what I wanted and where I wanted it. Yet still they phone and sound stunned when I explain I don't want to move to giddy London. Seems that EVERYONNNNNNNE has a desire to move there, deep down and just needs to be convinced of it by recruitment consultants.

Had the house valued so we're doing little bits of DIY and ogling estate agents websites. Everything's on hold until I get an income again though. If you know anyone who fancies living just spitting distance from the Cemetry gates...

30/09/2005

Really have to stop buying wine two bottles at a time. Ooo me'ead...

I just discovered that the Mac has "personal web sharing" which means you can create a per-user website for the local network.

and what do you have to do to set this up?? click a box and stick an HTML file in the right directory!

I love this thing.

Today's random recruitment agent phone call:-

"Hi, Scott, yeah?? this is Rupert from <-insert techy sounding words-> Recruitment. you free to talk, yeah?"

"Well, yes"

"Great, great, right - saw yer CV on the web, yeah, and think I've got just the role for you. just want to clarify a few details, uh huh?"

(thinks: here we bloody go again)

"so what kind of Role are you looking for?"

"As you'll SEE FROM MY CV, I'm looking for a C++ role, preferab..."

"Great, great, C++, yeah. So no embedded experience then??"

"Ahem...as you'll SEE FROM MY CV, I've done a fair amount of embedded althou.."

"Excellent, excellent, embedded, yeah. Driving licence?"

"No thanks, I'm trying to give them up"

"Huh?"

"(sighhh)....yes, I have a driving licence, as it S A Y S O N M Y C V but I don't really drive, and certainly don't want a job that involves driving"

"Oh no, no, don't worry. They don't need you to drive."

"So why did you ask about a licence"

"They insist you have one, yeah?"

"They insist I have a driving licence, but don't want me to drive??"

"yeah"

"You're making this up as you go along, aren't you?"

"No no no. right it's basically a gigabit video processing signal digital role, with some MDF and a bit of EIEIO. Chance to get some nick nack paddywack experience.."

"just a minute - WHERE is it exactly?"

"Berkshire..and they have a bonus scheme and pension and..."

"B E R K S H I R E????????"

"yeah...oh hang on, i don't know where you are"

"Manchester"

"oh. You'll be wanting to relocate, though, yeah?"

"Not to berkshire, no"

"but it's 30-35K!"

"Allow me to summarise. Despite having 'seen my CV' you don't know what I can do, what I have done, what I want to do, where I live or where I want to live? You don't seem to understand the role, or how I'd fit in. You haven't asked them any of the obvious questions and yet you think I'd be great for it?

All you actually know about me is my phone number, isn't it?"

"I got your name right, didn't I??"

"*(&^*&^* OFF!!!!!"

3/10/2005

The agent who promised to phone me back on Friday finally called today. He wasn't much more forthcoming with details, but I have a fair idea which mixing desk company I'm being presented to this time.

Despite being fully registered dole-scum, I've largely managed to resist the "lure" of daytime TV. This morning I switched it on and found myself trying to choose between "Sumo School" and "Gerbil Plague". There was only one option.

Monday is Columbo day, though, so I switched it back on later.

Today's achievement - getting through a Dylan song without looking up the words. Tomorrow I'll try to do it without stopping for a think every 4 lines.

10/10/2005

Interview in burnley today. A friend I used to work with was coming in just as I arrived and was chatting to me when the interviewer turned up, which probably played in my favour.

It was, however, the most shambolic interview I've ever had

Got shown round the offices first and we bumped into one of the software guys who started interviewing me standing in the office. He then started slagging off the company, in the way you would to other employees but not to a prospective employee, or indeed a stranger.

They took me into the office where four of them preceded to dither, fanny about, chat amongst themselves, talk on the phone and run down the company. They started by saying "right, tell us about what you've done". Any interview I've ever been in they at least start by talking about the company, or going through your CV or discussing the role or something. The agency was really stressing to me that I needed to be prepared for the interview but I don't think they'd really read my CV, let alone thought up any questions.

The work seems to be OK - Embedded stuff on SHARCs/hammerheads, supporting legacy transputer (OCCAM!!) code with some MFC/GUI work too. I'd get moved around things, and I get the feeling they're quite laid back about specs and design and such like.

Still, I'm not really sure. On the plus side, they seem like a down to earth lot and it would probably be a fun place to work. The experience might be good and the package isn't bad. I asked my mate what he thought of it and he said they kept him busy and as long as he was busy, he was happy. Which isn't the same as a recommendation.

On the down side, they've gone bust twice, they seem totally disorganised, I'm not sure how challenging the role would be (I think again I may be over-experienced) and Burnley is a hell of a long way to go, even when we move to Hebden Bridge

The agent has been on the phone today AGAIN (that's 8 calls in a week) and I said I was still thinking about it:-

"Well, we'd need to move fast if they make an offer. How long would you need to think about it?"

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why would 'we' need to move fast exactly?"

"er...well, they'll want someone to start right away"

"surely they must allow for some people needing to work notice? so I should be able to have a week at least?"

"oh...um...ah...well no everyone else going for it is in the same position as you."

"uh huh. course they are"

I hate agencies. Really. To have some 19 year old twit "reminding' me to polish my shoes and wear a suit is patronising beyond my tolerance.

13/10/2005

I didn't get the job in Burnley as they decided to go for someone "cheaper". That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day

17/10/2005

Another interview tomorrow, this time nearer to home. The company seems to do really interesting work. What they want from me is bit of a mystery.

The Agent phoned for my final prep. "Did you get all the details you need?". So far, the job description I have is 'Software Engineer' and I've asked for more detail, so I reply that I'm still waiting for the job spec. "oh", she says, "well they do a lot of different things so don't worry, they think you're just right".

So, no problems there then. What can possibly go wrong?

18/10/2005

What a complete and utter waste of everyone's time. I shall be having very strong words with the agency shortly, finishing with me telling them never to darken my door again.

I asked the agency THREE times for a job spec and was told none was available beyond the core skills being C++ and MFC. They pointed me at the website to read up about the company and asked me to prepare a sample of my code to show them, so I spent most of yesterday reading, digging out code, tidying it up and printing it out.

When I got there, it turns out that the agency pointed me at the WRONG website, and that the job is something else entirely. The company had sent a full job spec to the agent which, despite my asking for one, I was never shown and were most apologetic that I hadn't received it.

Worse, the job requires about 10 weeks travel abroad every year and a fair bit of driving (as factories don't tend to be near airports), neither of which I want to do. Seeing the world is one thing but a week crawling around a factory floor in Argentina installing an instrument I can live without.

It's lucky it was fairly close. If I'd travelled to Bradford or Leeds, spending 2 or 3 hours on a train, only to discover within five minutes that the job was a non-starter, I'd be raging. I'm angry enough as it is.

Just rang up and had a rant at the girl I spoke to yesterday. She calmly replied "Well, I don't know much about the job so you'll need to talk to Lucy who initially arranged it. I'll get her to call you when she's free."

No "Sorry" in there you'll notice.

Just wait until she phones. Cover your ears, children.

24/10/2005

There are many problems with being out of work - the lack of money, the loss of self-esteem, the shame of looking forward to Columbo on a monday afternoon - but without question the most frustrating for me is dealing with the daily phone calls from agents with no clue what my CV means. Surely there must be some kind of training or basic knowledge requirement to work in IT recruitment, one would think. How wrong you would be. You need not know anything about C++ or UNIX, and indeed it is a positive bonus if your geography skill are so limited that Hemel Hempstead appears to you to be within easy commuting distance of South Manchester.

While it is almost forgiveable for a recruitment agent not to know the intricacies of the latest wacky Microsoft plan, surely they could be expected to at least make some kind of effort for their hefty fees? yesterday I got a call from a pleasant enough bod about a vacancy. He admitted he didn't know much about the role, but offered to send me the job spec.

So far, so good. His email arrives containing no job spec or details of any kind. He "couldn't find" the specification for the job which he felt I was oh-so-perfect for but I could "probably find it on the website". He didn't include so much as a link to the website never mind the specific page. After 5 minutes digging I found it, and unsurprisingly there was almost nothing about it which matched my C.V. or what I'd mentioned in my covering note

So what work did this agent do for me? I imagine the matching of CV to Vacancy is mostly computerised, and he had little to do beyond running some kind of search. He didn't bother to read my CV in any detail, or the job description, didn't organise himself to have a copy of the spec to hand when he phoned and couldn't even provide me with a URL given sufficient time to go and find it. All of these are down to one thing - laziness. None of them required any technical ability or special skills, just the kind of positive attitude and enthusiasm that the agencies are so insistent that I show when I'm being interviewed.