As I have joined the group commonly known as the ‘unemployed’, I find that I am also in the category known as a ‘job-seeker’.  For the army of people in the same position as myself, it will come as no surprise that I am apparently ‘entitled’ to many other job-seeker related activities. This, I guess, is meant to make up for the small weekly income, and the endless administrative debate as to what other financial help I am entitled to. Think justifying one’s life’s existence and you are somewhere near it.

To ensure that I am not languishing on the money from DWP, I am required to attend a two-weekly signing on with my adviser where I also have to detail my job searching activities.  I am also offered a coaching session or rather an interview with a Careers Advisor.     Nothing to lose I think, and given my circumstances, I could do with any information I could get.

Before the day of the meeting, I’d been asked to submit my CV.  I felt quietly confident,  let’s be honest, even a bit smug.  My CV had been scrutinised  – you’ve guessed it – by another Striped Sister, who being renowned for taking no prisoners, had asked me to redraft it four times. YES! Four times!!!   So as you can see it wasn’t exactly something I’d just thrown together.

As I sat across the desk from the Careers Advisor I wasn’t expecting criticism, after all my experience to this date of Jobcentre Plus had been largely positive, but clearly this wasn’t the way it was going to go. Dan, well let’s call him Dan, felt my mission statement detailing my skills was neither dynamic nor focussed, meaning the potential employer would be led in too many directions.  OK, after some initial opposition I was willing to accept that, after all he was trying to help.  However, aren’t I supposed to be open to different challenges and fields?   Yeah I know….. the UN job’s gone, but don’t I have what are called ‘transferable skills’?

Second my CV is too long.   ‘It’s two pages!’ I say incredulously.   I mean a pizza menu is longer than that!  Mistake number 2 according to Dan.  I will show that I have too much experience and ahem….. I’ll be looking too old.   While I digest that, another zinger, ‘Let’s face it………’re  going to experience ageism’.

I protested that I had detailed my experience so as to show what I could do, but Dan suggested I limit my experience to 10 years and take the dates off my education because any potential employer will be able to calculate my age.    As I pondered this and wondered if a recommendation for a course of Botox was round that corner, the next missive was delivered.

What exactly was I doing on social media?   Was I on LinkedIn?    When I pointed out to Dan that I’d actually delivered workshops on that very platform, it kind of fell on deaf ears.  The fact that I had some level of technical knowledge also fell by the wayside.

As a gesture Dan said he’d send me his own ‘help-sheets’ (OK I think I made that word up) so that I could really start to get on top of things.

Next up, what was I doing for networking?  I felt I couldn’t really talk about my stepping stone theory and my search for coffee as I thought there would be a bit of a scoff.  Was I asking my friends for work opportunities?  Well sort of, but a lot of them are retired!    Exasperated sigh ……………not sure if that was from me or from him!

How about setting up my own business?  ‘Yes that sounds good to me, got a course for that?’  I asked.   At this point I was rather startled by the response, which was along the lines of ‘I can’t sign you up for everything!’  ‘Really?  Why not?’ I mean, I thought he was supposed to be getting me a job.

Reluctantly he sent me over to sign up at a very funky place called ‘The Elevator’ to do a day course on starting your own business.   (Just in case you’re wondering Striped Sisters – the  average age for a successful business start-up is 45!)    So armed with this knowledge and with the promise of a follow-up email and a ‘how we did’ survey off I went.    I may be unemployed, I may be a job seeker, I may be deemed ‘old’ by conventional standards, but maybe this could really be the beginning of the search for something else.

As a postscript, when discussing this experience with my Striped Sister, there was a pause and a silence….. and then the pronouncement  was forthcoming …….. ‘First of all,  I don’t like your Careers Adviser, and second of all   ………’  And then with her usual aplomb the ‘super mentoring’ began ……………………………….

© stripedsisters 2020

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