I'm really not someone who is given to whining, and I'm rarely the kind of person who lets things get on top of them but honestly, I'm starting to feel rather fed up and demotivated by this whole job-hunting malarkey.
Sure, I have my freelance work but for the last year or so, the amount of new clients I'm finding has been dwindling. So much so that I've had to accept work which I wouldn't normally take on from clients whom I've just not been sure about. Consequently, I've recently had two non-paying clients, and am having to seek legal advice regarding getting paid. And I hate it. Why can't people be reasonable and not try to renege on agreements? Fortunately, my longer-standing clients are lovely, and never give me any problems (even when they ask me to translate Norwegian documents into English...you know who you are!).
At the beginning of December, after much reflection, I came to the conclusion that actually, I'm tired of working freelance. Yes, it's nice to be my own boss but the downside is that I never take a holiday because I have a persistently nagging little voice inside me which cautions, "If you go away, you'll miss a really important communiqué from a potential client". Plus of course, now I'm unwilling to spend money on a holiday because I cannot guarantee future income. I also almost never work less than 10 hours a day because I've got to the stage where I feel I am 'cheating' if I don't do more than an average office-worker would! I know, I know....but I am extremely conscientious...and possibly a little hard on myself! In addition to all this, I have no guaranteed salary, and even clients who are reliable, sometimes don't settle their invoices on time because like almost everyone else, they are all subject to the vagaries of the current economic climate, and no matter what the experts keep telling us about us being over the worst of it, the fact remains that so many are still struggling.
Since this bout of reflection and realisation, I decided it was time to put myself back into the jobs market. Since the beginning of last month, I have applied for over 200 jobs, none of them outlandish, none outside my expertise or experience, and yet all these applications have yielded precisely one solitary interview. I thought it went well, the company directors made a point of promising that they'd let me know one way or the other. Guess what? They didn't. I found out I hadn't got the job via a 'welcome to our new person' on their website. I was actually pretty upset by it. If they hadn't said the words, "We promise to let you know", I would have been disappointed but chalked it up to experience. However, I have always believed that if you make a promise, you keep it...and if you think you might not be able to, then don't make the promise in the first place. It would have taken less than five minutes or so to dash off a 'sorry you weren't successful' email, BCC all the other candidates, and hit 'send'.
To not extend this simplest of courtesies just gives out the message that I am not worthy of such consideration. That all of their positivity toward me in the interview and on the telephone was meaningless, and worse, false. And it's incredibly demoralising. I realise this is an emotional response but that is what we human beings do - we get emotional from time to time, especially when we feel let down. Especially when we expect people to uphold to the same high standards we do, and then discover they don't.
I make no apology for feeling that employers and recruiters who behave like this seem unprofessional and ill-mannered. Would it really be asking too much that interviewers tell people the truth, rather than expect them to keep hanging on and hanging on, thinking they'll get a telephone call or an email soon? Would it hurt to say something like, "If you've not heard anything within two weeks, it's safe to assume you have not been successful"?
I know I am a good worker; I am diligent, reliable, flexible, intelligent, pro-active, capable, efficient, honest, self-motivated; I have plenty of skills and experience, and I could be an absolute asset to someone. But none of this seems to be enough for most employers. Or so it seems - hard to tell when I don't even get an interview, and mostly no feedback from my applications!
I'm actually now wondering whether it's my age that's going against me. Logically, someone who is not going to be taking time off to have babies and has 25+ years' worth of experience is surely going to be a good bet? I'm not one of those people who stays at a job for no more than five years because I have to progress my career, I'm one of those people who believes wholeheartedly in loyalty and diligence. I don't apply for a job, thinking to myself that it will be a useful stepping stone to the next one, I am looking for a job because as the saying goes, I want to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. I am not a corporate climber, I am simply a woman who wants a bloody job! Is that really too much to ask? And if I'm honest, it's not 100% about the money - it's almost as much about just being employed and doing something useful.
Anyway, I've been at it since 7am, and it's now almost 2pm. I've applied for another 15 jobs today, each one with a specially-written covering letter, and CV tailored accordingly. Now I am taking the afternoon off to do something which is going to make me feel good about myself, and less like someone who is coming to the conclusion that she may have ended up on the employment scrap heap.
Oh, and if there are any potential employers reading this...please, do your company a favour, and just hire me because honestly, I'm great. I'm fantastic, really I am. And I'm lovely to small dogs, and fluffy kittens, and even most humans! And will make you cake. Lots of cake. I'm very, very good at cake. Seriously, give me a job - you won't regret it!