So, I tried another recruitment agency on Friday. What a contrast in the way I was treated compared to the one on Tuesday.
I was quite stressed when I got there – I hate using buses, especially after having had a car for so long.
I’m on google earth and the local transport website the day before I set out. I don’t know the stops and where I had to go involved yet another trek around an industrial site. Once I got there it started to rain and I had to walk up to the man in the box to find out how to even get inside fort knox like building.
The people there were welcoming at least. had a load of forms to fill out along with a test- though I couldn’t even see the point of them. I’m not sure who designed the test, there were some maths tests and some sort of IQ type tests – next number in sequence, that kind of thing, spot the difference and a puzzle about number of fence posts. WHy does my mind go blank? I could for the life of me subtract four from 61, and then had to add 120. My confidence was in my boots. Never mind the 85% pass rate. I felt so utterly useless. It was just a simple packing job after all for National Minimum Wage (£6:31).

Haven’t got a start date yet, again the job is a pig to get to, buses aren’t great, there are two rail stations, both need about a twenty minute walk to a secure site on an industrial park, hell I wish I still had my little car just to feel safe and dry. Not sure how many hours work there will be either, I hope its worth my while, its more than the dole, but it may not go beyond Christmas. I can’t make any long term commitments, like pay off that sod of an ex husband, to keep a roof over my head.

I’m going to go to the doctor as my mysterious foot condition had flared up – blisters and itching like you wouldn’t believe. According to the Internet it’s eczema. I just don’t want to be in pain or get an infection, whilst walking to the job or being stood up all day. There was mention of working in a clean environment. Least there’s no office clothes and feeling self conscious that I’m overweight. Coveralls, a hair net and over shoes being order of the day. I’ll have to sacrifice my nose stud – been in there since 1996 – but better that than starve.

Was I after factory jobs the job centre advisor said. Not especially. The alternative factory job at a sausage factory and working with raw meat didn’t appeal. Sure the dog would love me as I walk through the door, but I didn’t want the smell of death around me. I couldn’t have done shifts anyway due the goddam busses.


Job agency hell

So… are recruitment agencies supposed to make you feel like shit after visiting them?

I had an appointment booked at 1pm – she was a no-show – one of the recruiters had no idea why I was even called in the office. By 1:25 asked to come back at 2PM or wait. I felt forced to buy sandwich, which could ill afford to kill some time. Two PM – still not there. Even took a call from another recruitment agency whilst I was waiting.

On the phone The woman came across as an air head – what about the gaps in my employment and some throw away comments that ‘some people didn’t need to work’ didn’t endear me to her. Needless to say any gaps in my employment are a very sensitive issue. I had to keep justifying being one of the 399 out of the 400 who didn’t get job X. Someone with an understanding of her own field should have been more sensitive herself. It transpired that her ulterior motive was that her client was an ex-recruitment (some exclusive club??), and
she was going to be asked how well she knew her clients. So it wasn’t for my benefit….
I’m not going to lie or spin about being unemployed though, am I?
I didn’t blame agencies for lack of jobs (just crap T&Cs) or myself, I’ve a strong CV – despite gaps in employment and doing the best that I can.

My spidey senses had a feeling that it wasn’t a role for me, and ideally I didn’t want to be on the front desk embarrassing myself that my clothes were ‘tired’ and beginning to get ‘too tight’ and had no suitable office shoes.

I was getting bottled up and the tears were welling. she told me I was coming across as being ‘aggressive’ ( who me?!!!) and she didn’t feel comfortable talking to me.
I felt insulted I’d had to wait for her for over an hour and didn’t like being stared at through her piggy little eyes. I felt hurt and defensive that I was unemployed and it was insinuated that I was doing something wrong… like what was I doing to find work – all I could – UJM, register with agencies, job alerts, newspapers,websites. Never worked in a shop i.e no retail experience on CV so can’t give out CV willy-nilly, going through a phone book is an utter waste of time)

I was advised
1) I shouldn’t apply for loads of jobs but a few….wonder what the DWP had to say on that score.
2) Apply for jobs that I wanted….. note that due to the economy they’re firing, not hiring in libraries/ museums/ archives sector.
3) I should work on a ‘positive attitude’ (fucking insult)
4) AS I was intelligent I should sent my CV to the universities to see if they had any jobs … oh yes they just magically find the funding for a job for me cos I sent my CV to them (clearly the woman was away with the fairies and no clue as to their recruitment!!)
5) Had I explained to the jobcentre ‘how I was feeling’ and take time out from job search….what about my JSA agreement, you think Iain Duncan Smith/ McVey gives a crap how I ‘feel’?? To her I was just some mad, psychotic bunny boiler without a job and blamed agencies for their misfortune.
6) Oh, and not to drag baggage from one agency if you haven’t heard any thing to them, as they weren’t to blame for the job situation – not as though they actually had any jobs on the books apart from this ‘receptionist’ job and a one month role down by the airport.
7) Don’t apply for a job – “just because it was a job” – clearly she’d led a charmed life, and ought to speak to the DWP

She’d phone me about the job in Speke, but it was only for a month – “so wasn’t worth me signing on and off the dole”. I spy.. yet another gap in my employment for me to lie about???

Yes she’s spoken to other people, who like me were ‘broken’ by the jobs market, but clearly she only wanted ‘winners’ on her books.

One of the agencies clients had popped her head around thee door earlier, she’s worked bank holidays over Easter and hadn’t been paid at all, never mind the time and a half and had only been paid £50..and had bills mounting, etc, etc. I wasn’t impressed by her treatment.

I called into another, well-known agency on the way home – they hadn’t any work – things were ‘a bit quiet’ but check their website for genuine vacancies. That’s what I wanted to hear and felt glad I popped my head around the door.

What have you been doing since September…

So that was the question a recruiter asked, being amazed that I had been unemployed and qualified that with – some people don’t want to work….Well I ain’t one of them.

Off to another registration process, another hour of my life I won’t get back, all for some receptionists job where they clearly are after eye candy and a CV unblemished with unemployment.

I really enjoy sending out those CVs with tailored covered letters day after day, week after week and month after month, all so I can sit on my arse at home, to life off, in theory less than £20.00 a week. [sarcasm]
That’s £20 for food for me (& dog and two cats), cleaning products, medicines, bus /train fares to make up numbers on an interview short list,and any other sundries eg twice yearly hair cut, a newspaper, a book from a charity shop, a coffee in cafe to use their free wifi,etc.

Put it this way after eight months, it wasn’t happening. Fresh fruit & veg, fresh milk and bread – all bought on credit card, paid for by eeking out my compensation for being in an RTA to cover the minimum payment. Sadly time just ran out on me.

Some chirppy recruiter named after a character on Neighbours just doesn’t get about being unemployed.
I mean in theory I should be in the ‘burbs, very happily married to a middle manager, both perfectly photogenic children would have graduated from OXbridge with double firstd and I’d be pottering about my garden and flower arranging down the WI. Sadly, life ain’t like that.

So, losing the job at RBS, when I did, came as a bit of a body blow. Still waiting for an alternative job or at least an apology before hell freezes over.

I can, in hindsight, understand why a now publicly funded bank, the Royal BAnk of Scotland, wouldn’t want it to be know that they were shipping 300+ staff to London from Merseyside for an all expenses paid training jolly at the Taxpayers expense, rather than get A trainer to come up to Liverpool and train the staff on site.

Oddly enough London wasn’t again mentioned on their last recruitment drive. I wrote to the guy doing recruitment in confidence – not even a read receipt to my email.
Clearly I’m mentally ill and no worth their time responding to. Some little person who didn’t make the grade and could at the drop of a hat spend 7 weeks in the Capital.

I’d have to of course borrow my train fare (£70+) due to the shame of being unemployed, otherwise I couldn’t be a member of their club/gang. Given the need to belong was a fundamental driver in human society I’d have to conform to their wishes or face being cast into the wilderness of the unemployable.
Given the added debts of kennels/ inoculations and cattery fees, and lack of suitable work clothes, evening meals, forced to socialise – I just had to say enough was enough.
I’d no idea what a 24/7 contract was, let alone the rate per hour if they were paying £12,500 salary without a pension. Was all the hassle worth it?
All they had to be was upfront and honest. They weren’t.
Yet they expected this of me. Trust is a two way street.

They’ll never take me alive

So… I have many problems, but my main two seems to that I have a conscience and a soul…. Not a good mix for call centre or bank work.

After going through a VERY stressful recruitment process and being offered a job, TWO months ago, RBS decided that they wanted to call me in, for a ‘validation interview’ and to nit pick at the forms I’d submitted and quiz me about gaps in my employment over the last two years.

The trains there are hit and miss and you’re either too early or two late. Sadly I’m one of these people who think it’s rude to be late. Having half an hour to kill, I noted that there were no benches to sit on. So, fifteen minutes before the appointment I then sat in the foyer. You can usually get a good measure of the people who worked there. Clearly not happy bunnies a few stressed smokers and pay not great as plenty of ‘primarni’ to be seen on the fashion front.

Eventually two women, neither of which was ‘Julie’ gave me a very limp hand shake. These two managers were in charge of the team. One was ‘normal’ the other was so artificial looking it was scarey-some woman clinging on to her thirties (not very well, I may add) and not rocking the barbie look.

It wasn’t an interview they said – but they asked interview questions….
1) tell me about yourself…..still unemployed,trying to keep myself sane whilst I was paying for food and a credit card whilst hung out to dry by them for the last two months…
2) why did I want to work for Royal Bank of Scotland – without missing a beat I told them it was just a job. That didn’t please blondie. Well their reputation is mud, they’ve been bailed out by the government and thus contributed to the recession and lack of jobs. They owed me a job, as a former taxpayer.
3) As to where I saw myself within the company- I couldn’t answer that, as I hadn’t a clue what the job I was applying for was -other than it was ‘an admin role’. They hadn’t explained that in their recruitment bumpf other than crowing about what a nice bank they were going to be and they needed staff. How arrogant.

They mentioned the job would be using the phone… I didn’t sign up for call centre work. Panic. I can’t process information via a headphone, I’m visual, I’m kinetic, I am not an auditory person – I put the subtitles on the TV. Using a language lab at school left me with a lasting phobia and a sense of a panic attack coming in the post…
Blondie leapt on this like a cat on mouse – was there something I wasn’t telling them???? oh apart from stress manifesting in ear infections -as it happened in my last job- clearly if I was hard of hearing they weren’t going to be positive about disability, given the hostility I was facing. I kept stum about my rheumatism, in case they thought I couldn’t type as well… They wanted robots,not people.

They asked if I’d been told about TRAVEL.
THe only travel had been mentioned in the context of how I was getting to work – ie northern rail or bus (same difference comfort wise)……Then they dropped the bombshell – I’d have to spend SEVEN weeks in London….and a further four weeks in Bolton/manchester/Kent or Scotland… the tears welled as the job disappeared in a puff of smoke. At no point was that mentioned in the job description or at the interview…a tear ran down my face as I thought of my house, my dog and the inability to pay my next credit card bill.

What was wrong blondie demanded..I stammered out, tears streaming – I hated being unemployed. I was on my own, I had a cat/dog and couldn’t go to London. I mean how many people can just up-sticks at short notice? It was a bit of an ask for anyone.
Were they also implying that I had to find the train fare?
Would I have to pay for my weekend accommodation too?
The financial implications were enormous.

I asked about the hours, to work out how far the £12,500 pa would go. I was told I’d be on a ’24-7′ contract. I wasn’t familiar with the term, and blondie looked at me as though I was stupid.
Was this a perverse version of zero hours? The hours were there, its just there was too many for too little money?

To add insult to injury these arrogant employers were going to top up the poverty wage with RBS products, you could top up your wage to £15k in cash or take that extra 25% bonus = £3k as a pension or some insurance or, not relevant me child care vouchers. The added cavate was you had to have an RBS bank account to pay the wage into. Given the cock ups I’ve experienced with my dealings with RBS, I doubt that will be another transaction which will go smoothly.

The whole episode has left me upset and when I got home, bloody and upset.

I called it a day and asked to leave.
I’d gone there to have my life picked over, they didn’t like the fact my british passport had my married name on it still on it.
Can’t a girl distance herself from an unhappy marriage?
If that’s so wrong, I’m guilty as charged.
I haven’t got the money to update the passport, I haven’t even abroad. I got the passport solely to prove I lived in my own country, thanks to paranoia about ‘johnny foreigner’ pinching British jobs. I now to justify my very existence.

The whole experience was just Kafkan and surreal.

I don’t think RBS can fix this or find me a place in their organisation. They were no upfront about the away from home training. There is no trust there.