A continuation from my previous blog.
I started work four days after the call from the Agency offering me a short-term contract. It was at a grammar school in Northern Ireland. I was asked to visit the Bursar prior to starting, it was a ten minute chat, asking me questions relevant to the job: ’How did I feel about handling money?’ Warning me it would be busy, to which I replied ’Good,’ and that was it, I started the next day!
I loved it. every day you hit the floor running, with non- stop phone calls early in the morning, there were students to deal with, parents, delivery men, post, lost property, and anything in between. I loved the variety, the interaction and more than anything liked the people.
There are many things here in Ireland that are vastly different from the UK. I can assure you that it is NOT the same culture, and one of these things is their more laid back approach to work. In the UK it is common practice to work through your lunch break, in fact eat at your desk. Tea break? Really? In Ireland it is the opposite, you get a tea break in the middle of the morning and a break of at least half an hour for lunch, where you are expected to go away from your desk and take that break. It’s a good thing, and when you tell people the culture in the UK they are in disbelief that people don’t take their breaks.
The grammar school was no exception. Every morning at 11 all of the staff in the office would turn their chairs towards each other and have a good twenty minute break. It really was an anomaly to me. Everyone was friendly, everyone was laid back, everyone had a good chat, and they were amazed at our adventure. We had a giggle at how I spelt some of the Irish names, and still all the work got done and everyone worked together as a team. It really was a joy.
I loved working there, they tried to teach me some Irish (Gaeilge) and thought it was hilarious when I said it with a French accent. I didn’t realise just how much I lapsed into French and had the accent when saying some words. I struggled with the guttural tones of Irish and due to this when I came to leave they bought me the lovely mug in the picture to remember them by, and a lovely card in which they had written how much I had helped them, how they had enjoyed having me there, with my adventures and sense of humour. I had only been there three weeks and it really was a compliment. But there is more to this story than that…
During my time there I had three interviews for other jobs. Now it was interesting because the grammar school, and the way they were had made me realise what I wanted, what I really really wanted and more importantly what I didn’t want, what I really didn’t want.
Before I go on let me explain that my CV is long. I am touching sixty, have been at work since I was nineteen and I have always worked in some way with the public. I have and ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence), have been a PA, and EA, and so much more in between. In fact I have picked up that my CV may intimidate the insecure so I have played down some of my roles. I am clearly a hard worker from the trajectory of my roles, you would think (as I would) I will have her, I won’t have to lead her she will just get on with it. But sadly in this world full of insecurity that is not what I have found to be the case.
For the first interview I did my homework as someone from my background would. I looked at the company’s website, where there ethos of looking after others, including their staff, and how important it was to them was a constant. I was excited, they really sounded like they cared, they seemed to do good work, and I wanted to be part of that team. Then it came to the interview!
There were two people interviewing me, but one of them wasn’t allowed to speak, she could only write notes. Whilst the other person talked all about herself and how long she had worked for the company. The ’Talker’ arrived late to the Teams meeting.
At the beginning I was asked how I drove to work, and then told that I should go another way. I was then asked to use an example of if, and when I had ever been required to use my initiative. At that point I wondered if they had read my CV. In fact there had been so many times during my career where I was expected to use my initiative (like all the time when you deal with the public in a front facing role) that I was stumped to actually think of a time, when it just came naturally to me and was just par for the course.
Then I was asked about confidentiality and GDPR, and when I explained that I had helped to pull together a draft for a future GDPR policy I was greeted with incredulity that the people I had worked for didn’t have a policy. (They didn’t, not an up to date one and they were a small company that had been hit badly by covid and were trying to catch up.) ‘Jesus!’ I thought, ‘And your ethos on your website is about how all your staff love working for you?’ I realised that the person interviewing me was intimidated by me, assuming that I would possible want their job. I don’t!
At the end of the interview The Talker asked how much I wanted in salary. When I told her that the job had been advertised with a specific salary she said ‘Oh! Had it? I didn’t realise I hadn’t looked at our advert.’ I wanted to say ‘Well don’t you think you should have?!’
So I made my decision that I didn’t want the job. I knew that my current role was only for three weeks, but I couldn’t work for someone that insecure, it was clear that they would have wanted to stamp their authority whenever they could. I don’t need that shit.
As an addendum here we are, five weeks on and the company that prided itself on communication didn’t even let me know I hadn’t got the job. So rude!
Move on to the second interview. Alarm bells should have rung because it was for a government job, and the application was not on a government website, as it normally would be, but through an agency. It was in fact a tick box exercise to say that the job had been advertised and they had interviewed; they obviously already had a person in mind for the job. But I learned from it that although the people were not anywhere near as obnoxious as the person in the first interview, they were boring. Sorry, I have said it! I applied for a support role for IT and Finance, and to be really honest IT and Finance have always been jobs I have avoided. I have always had mainly front facing roles, or roles where I could and would be expected to use my initiative. Add to this they had advertised the post as ‘hybrid working’, so I thought that’s okay, I can travel 2.5 hours to work and 2.5 hours back if it’s only one day a week. Before the interview began they told me that they would expect me in the office for a full month at the outset because the other member of staff in the office was finding her moral was low. Off went the alarm bells again! How could I travel 5 hours a day every day? I couldn’t. It made me ask myself the questions ‘Why did they advertise it as hybrid working? And, more importantly why did I apply for this role?
It was at this point that I realised that I was letting money, or lack of it, govern my life, as it so often has. I realised that we are all sold the story that we must take something, anything, to ensure that we have money coming in, instead of trusting that what we need will come. Back to the energy again: I was clouding the energy that would send what I needed my way. If I stopped applying for stupid jobs and just believed that what I needed would come, knew my worth, then what I needed would come. Then came job interview number three.
By this time I was a little blasé about interviewing. What made it worse about this one was that it was for a bank. A BANK. What the fuck was I doing even thinking about working for a bank?! But I convinced myself that it was a front facing role, it was in the same town where I was currently working, and that I would go into it with my eyes open and low expectations. I was right to!
The interview had two people in attendance, and it was, as all of them had been, over Teams. One of the people was very nice, but it was like ‘Good cop, Bad cop’ because the other one was a miserable cow! She hardly looked up at the screen, and just looked like she had received a piece of shit in the post. And she was the one I would have been working for!
Bad cop opened the interview by asking me why I had left my career in the civil service twenty-five years ago. Why would you ask me that? What relevance did that have to a role in a a bank? It was twenty-five years ago! So I told her ’My mum died’. I could see the lovely lady from HR look so embarrassed as Bad cop flustered about because she didn’t know how to answer me.
But it got worse…She asked me if I could use a computer????! By now I had to bite my tongue from saying have you read my CV? I know people lie on their CV’s but not over forty years worth of job roles!
The other lady immediately jumped in and pointed out that I had got an ECDL, but said bad cop obviously didn’t know what this was as she proceeded to ask (it was so ludicrous I am giggling as I type this):
Bad cop ‘Can you use Excel?’ Me ‘Yes, I have an ECDL.’
Bad cop ‘Can you use Microsoft Outlook?’ Me ‘Yes I have an ECDL and I have been a PA and and EA, in fact I am using Outlook in my current placement.’
Bad cop ‘Can you use Word?’ Me (now I have to confess I started to giggle at this point because I had already decided that she could stick her job up her arse!) ‘Sorry I didn’t think I had to say I could use Word as I thought that was a given!’ It was lost on her.
Then she want on to say how it was good that I got to the grammar school early and understood that I was expected to go to my job early, because I would be expected to be there at 8.45am even though I would not be paid until 9am. A little voice said in my head ‘And you would not be getting out at 5pm either because they will expect you to cash up after the door has closed.’ Now I understand the need for me to be there before the doors opened, and after the doors had closed; but what I didn’t understand was why the hours were advertised as 9-5!!! Basically they wanted people to work at least 30-45 mins for no pay, each day.
Sorry I have done my time, I’m too old for that shit.
Needless to say I never heard back from them either, even thought their website took pride in telling you that they were ‘Investors in People’, and had driven European initiatives in caring for their staff. When in fact theybare just Rude!
Reading someone’s CV before the interview may be a start.
All the time I was undertaking these tasks, I was reminded daily that there are lovely people to work with, lovely people who, as the Bursar pointed out, do not expect you to be there fifteen minutes early. I was reminded of the type of job I wanted to do, and that when looking for work money needed to be way down on the list of needs not at the top. At the top needed to be nice people, good environment, enjoy the job.
When I came to leave the grammar school I had made my mind up that I would take the right job, or a job that gave me freedom so that I could work from home with the puppies And a job where more importantly the people were not intimidated by me, were not up their own arse, and had a sense of humour.
In the last week I was there RD had finally got a job, when I say finally, I mean that for him, it was getting to him more than he knew. But more about that in another post.
RD’s role was In the same town as the grammar school so we were able to travel there together, which was great. The downside was the dogs were alone for over eleven hours, and we both worried about them. The other downside was we were exhausted, out at 7.30am, home at 6.45pm when we had to hit the floor running: sorting the animals out, tidying up. We both realised that we are too old for us both to do it. But I can tell you now that ‘Life’ had a plan. More of that in another blog.
What I learned from all of this was how lucky I am that I am not just starting out, and I feel for those that are. I suppose I had to do it too, but I have so much to offer that I am interviewing the interviewer now.
I also learned what I want, what I really, really want, and I am holding out for that. The card from the lovely ladies at the grammar school, is sitting on my mantlepiece to remind me.