I’ve been unemployed since May, left my part time job to concentrate on my final year exams. So whilst taking short break from revision I would make a few job applications, hoping to have a job to go to, after my exams are over. But obviously it’s not as easy as that.
Once my exams are over, the ‘proper’ job hunting started. I looked through the local newspaper online and found an ad for Trainee Recruitment Consultants (for a well known recruitment agency!). So I sent off my CV and cover letter, and the following day, to my surprise I get a phone call, and a telephone interview is conducted. I passed that and was asked to attend an assessment day the following week.
Before hand, I did some more research on the company, what they look for in a recruitment consultant etc and off I went. So, on the day, there’s 9 of us sat around the table, with only a few positions available, all trying our utmost best to get the job. We went through various activities ice breaking, business plans, and finding the right candidate for the client. Something which was meant to last 3 hours lasted 8 hours. It had been a long day, and competition in the room was tough. The assessor spoke to the branch manager and two senior consultants and came to a decision that 4 of the 9 will go onto the next stage. “So the people we are taking through are Veena…”, my heart skipped a beat, I really didn’t think I would get through. So the 4 of us spoke to the branch manager who told us the next step would be a competency based interview as well as we having to present our 3 month plan on building our client base and getting candidates.
I didn’t know much about being a recruitment consultant so I researched a lot, and asked for a lot of advice from family and friends. I was pretty confident and attended my interview with the branch manager and two senior consultants. The result of the interview was pretty clear cut, you either passed, failed or you’re in between, and if that’s the case, you would be asked to a working interview where they put you in the office and watch you call and speak to clients. That afternoon I got the phone call to say I was sitting on the fence, and would attend a working interview, at the earliest date possible, which was the day I landed back from Morocco.
The day of my working interview came, and throughout the whole process I had received really positive feedback about my confidence and ability to build a rapport. I had to speak to 31 clients within 2 hours. After that I sat down with the assessor who was pleased with my performance but had to speak to it through with the Branch manager.
A few days passed and I still hadn’t heard anything, so I rang her. I was actually quite excited for some reason, because of the good feedback I really thought I had it in the bag. Good pay, good opportunities, what more could I want from a first job?! So then, she goes on to tell me I was unsuccessful. WHAT?!? WHY?? I actually wanted to scream down the phone. “We are recruiting for a recruiter within the construction industry and we don’t think you’d be suited to it.” I really wanted to say “Well if you’d told me that was the sector I’d be recruiting for, I would never have applied because I know nothing about the construction sector and thank you very much for wasting 6 weeks of my life!”, but I didn’t, obviously. I put the phone down and really was so disheartened, but nevertheless I need a job, so I carried on applying.
I have made countless job applications and most of the time I don’t hear back. Oh maybe it would be useful to say I want to get into HR, and the best way to enter that field is as a HR administrator, so the majority of jobs I’ve been applying to are administration/office assistant positions.
A month ago I made an application for Office Assistant at a well known high street fashion retailer. It was only a part time position, but all I cared about was getting my experience so I can get into HR, as admin experience is vital. I went to my interviewer, my would be boss was very happy with me, and a few days later offered me the job. I said yes of course. I went to my induction day, watching health and safety videos (boring!) and filling out necessary forms, and my first day at work would be two days later.
I arrive really early, all prim and proper as such, excited to start my first day. My manager goes through the files in the office etc and where everything can be found. She then shows me the stockroom and the rest of the store, and back to the stockroom we go. She showed me how to process the items that had been returned to store and had to go back to the warehouse or transferred to another store. She can process 300 items in a hour, I managed 110. After that was done, it was 20minutes till the store shuts and it’s my job to take off all the tills. There’s 14 tills in the store, 2 in the basement, 8 on the ground floor and 4 on the first floor. The office is on the first floor, and you have to get through 2 coded doors to get into it. So I had to remove all 14 tills, by myself, take it upstairs, store it in the safe, and make sure it’s all checked by the manager. Not too bad I thought, and was told I would be taught something new the following day. Again all early etc, I’m taken back to the stockroom, to be shown how to process ordered items which are overdue. I was in there for three and a half hours. The last half an hour of my shift I was to actually do the banking which is a long process for someone who’s never done it before. This is when I thought yes, I’m getting some sort of experience and hopefully next I’ll be doing some personnel work etc. A week later, back there, and I’m working in the stockroom again, and then a pattern followed, three and a half hours processing returns, half an hour tills, and that’s it. Nothing else. For two weeks I did this, until I gave up. The money I was earning from doing this was definitely not worth it. Not only that, the job specification for ‘Office Assistant’ mentioned a little bit of stockroom work, but I did not expect the majority of my shifts to be in the stockroom. I spoke to my manager about this who then told me clearly that me and the two other office assistants were hired to mainly deal with the stockroom.
So back to square one I go. No job. This time, whilst applying to jobs, I decided to apply to sales assistants roles too, just because that’s where my experience lies, and it seems like no-one wants to take anyone on without experience. I decided to ring my local council on the off chance to ask for work experience in the HR department to gain some sort of experience in that field, so here I am, awaiting their response.
My frustration is that most companies do not want to employ you if you don’t have the relevant experience training as it would cost them too much to provide the training, but no-one is even willing to give that experience. It’s just one big vicious circle that all us recent graduates are in. This has really made me question the prospect of going into university, before, a degree was able to push you the front of the queue when applying for a job, but no2 it’s harder than ever. No, I didn’t expect to come out of university and have a job straight away, but I didn’t expect it to be this hard. I even applied to a customer based role, something which I have 6 years experience of, both with well known companies, and I was rejected?!
Not only is this job hunt stressing me out, it’s also putting a strain on my relationship and friendships. My mood are so unpredictable because of being unemployed, and everyone says to persevere but it’s hard when nothing seems to be going your way.
All I’m asking for is a chance, to gain some experience/insight in the field I’d like to work, but it seems to be too much to ask for.