On Friday 8 February I received some bad news. It wasn’t entirely unexpected but it nonetheless shook my world. Redundancy. Eight weeks’ notice of. The words rung in my ears for days like tinnitus. Gnawing away at my confidence and slowly grinding my mood down to an all-time low. I knew it was coming. The contract I had been working on was due to finish any time and there simply wasn’t any more work for me, but still, when the letter was handed to me I felt a fear far greater than any I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Friends and family tried to console me with polite yet unconvincing arguments insinuating that I’m ‘too clever NOT to get another job’ and that my newfound education would surely mean that any company I applied to would be silly to not take me on, but their arguments were frustratingly pointless to the ears of a girl facing the prospect of dole. I’ve worked solidly since I left school at seventeen and have given loyal service to only two companies. The first for seven years and the second for nine years so even the prospect of starting with a new company filled me with the fear of the unknown (or rather, the little experienced) however not as much fear as the thought of claiming jobseekers.
I frantically applied for positions – anything I was remotely capable of doing I applied for and after three weeks the application total was up to around fifty. Whoever said there are no jobs out there clearly hasn’t looked hard enough. The real problem, as I discovered, is the volume of competition in the job market. So much so that most companies seem unable to inform you that you’ve been unsuccessful in your application; a real bone of contention I must admit.
After four weeks of applications I got my first interview and less than twenty four hours later I got offered the job. Halleluiah. Praise Gaia someone is willing to give me a chance!
The interview had involved some competency tests and face-to-face elements with questions like ‘give me an example of a time when you...’ and this is where I think I clinched it. One of the questions was about managing deadlines and working out priorities so rather than draw on employment based examples I pulled the study game out of the bag. You see, the thing about us part time and/or mature students is that we have no choice but to manage our time well. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone so it’s a skill we acquire over years of studying in whatever spare time we can muster and organising ourselves around that. During the interview I managed to draw on examples from paid employment, studying and volunteering. I actually felt quite proud of my answers, managing to respond quickly and with an appropriate and strong anecdote.
I started my new job on Monday 18th (hence the radio-silence on the blog, apologies folks) and I’m both pleased and relieved to say that it’s a good job with a good company doing something far more suited to me. The job is based around research and writing so it’s a perfect use of the skills I’ve developed through my studies. The subject area is around healthcare and myself and a few of the other analysts have already expressed an interest in learning more about dementia issues and dementia care and I know there’s a great OU module which would be ideal for us all – K235: Dementia Care fits the bill well so it may be put forward to HR as a suggestion at some point.
Since I accepted the job I’ve been invited to five other interviews for other positions, all of which I’ve turned down because either they’re too low-paid or the job is doing something I know I wouldn’t enjoy, but it’s really reassuring that I got more than one invite. That’s not to say I would get offered any of the other five, but knowing that you’ve been shortlisted is a real confidence-booster.
I’d been at my last job for just shy of nine years. I was stuck in a real rut and I knew it, I just didn’t do anything about it because it was easier to stay put. Getting my redundancy was just the push I needed to seek out something better and I firmly believe that my studies and volunteering with the OU helped me stand out in a sea of other applicants. With the benefit of hindsight and the safe knowledge of continuous employment, being made redundant was the best bad news I’ve ever had.