The Little Things #8

Friday, 29 July 2011

When you realise that your holiday is but a month away and you can start counting the days! :)

CV Styles

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I remember way back in secondary school when we had our 'careers' lessons - which consisted of the teachers asking us 'What do you want to do?' and most of the teenagers going 'Dunno' in response!  I don't think many of us had any clear idea.  But I do recall that the lessons on CV writing were reasonably good.

At 16, there's not a whole lot you can put on a CV.  If you have a part-time job or volunteer somewhere, that was an excellent thing to include.  Member of a sports club - you had 'team-skills'.  Beyond that all you really had were your exam results.  At 16, your CV has a tendency to look a bit sparse.

Fast forward a good ten years.

My CV is starting to read like a novel.  Two sides of A4 (always the recommended amount) and there's a lot of skills, experience, qualifications and details of employment.  Ten years will take up some space.  I've long since passed the point of leaving out your very first part-time job whilst still at school. (Cleaning the animal pens in a cattery for a few months - not needed really)

I've reached the point whereby I'm trying to assess what is absolutely necessary.  Employers aren't going to read my life-history-novel-cv.  So I'm about to say goodbye to the old chronological method of listing each job in turn, most recent first, working backwards, detailing who, what, where and when, trying to glean skills and experience from each one.  It's too full of text.  It requires some simplification.  It needs clarity.

Thus I shall be writing my CV afresh in the 'skills-based' manner.

They're pitched as being more appropriate for people who have a long work history or have done a lot of different jobs (in this economic climate that's to be expected more often), or for people looking for a career change.  Which seems a pretty good match for me.

It's looking pretty good so far; hopefully shall have it finished off this evening and I can go back to working on my covering letters.

Car Insurance

Thursday, 21 July 2011

My car insurance renewal is coming up - I recieved my reminder in the post recently.  I had to phone them up to make a few changes to the policy, including my job which is specified on the policy.

What I didn't realise was that my profession has an effect on the pricing.  Whilst I was temporarily working in web development, the price was quite low - my policy was up for renewal just as I'd accepted the job.  But now that I'm a shop assistant, the price has leapt upwards!  This is because that more shop assistants have accidents than web developers - yet statistically, there's a lot more shop assistants in the country so of course the accident rate is understandably higher given that there's more of us out on the roads!  Odds are, we'll be in accidents sooner or later.

I was slightly miffed at that, being judged as a higher risk because of my job. I honestly don't see how it has a bearing on the likelyhood of me personally having an accident. Shop assistants are not auotmatically worse drivers, there's simply more of us.

But then, out of curiosity I asked what it would be if I were a dental nurse.

Surprise surprise, it's at the lower end.

Mental note - change car insurance policy the minute I gain new employment!


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Thanks to Google Earth I've finally got around to figuring out just how far I walk every week whilst delivering my leaflets.

I've worked it out at 3.75 miles.  That's just the pavements walked, I might add.  If you factor in the additional travelling distance of walking up and down people's driveways or paths, then there's easily an extra mile in there.

Effectively, I'm walking the best part of 5 miles.

That may sound a lot to some people. but for me it's not that big a deal.  Ever since I was little I've been happily walking places; pre-school (a five minute toddle on little legs), first school, middle school, secondary, college (although I switched to a bike after a while), and then with the exception of two jobs I've always walked to work.

I do use my car for my second job, after all it is 11 miles away!  And of course travelling to see my boyfriend.  Those are distances that are too far to walk.  Everywhere else, I do my best to walk.  Not only does it save me money on petrol but it is healthier too.  I didn't realise just how much benefit it had until I switched from my office job to another that required me to drive.  I went from walking approximately 2 miles every weekday to doing none ... well, a little potbelly started sneaking up on me as I wasn't exercising enough to keep it at bay!

To have a job whereby I can be active and get outside is without doubt of great benefit to me.  Physically, it helps maintain my weight and mentally as I'm not stuck indoors going stir-crazy!

Guess the only potential problem I have is just how long my trainers will last!

What's with the judgement?

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A middle-aged woman and her teen-aged daughter came into the Shop.  The girl did nothing but roll her eyes and make the occasional 'Love that!' or 'Hate that!' drawling statement to whatever item her mother was drooling over indecisively.

The teens lack of vocals was somewhat balanced by the incessant nattering of her mother, most of which did not revolve around what sort of jewellery she was looking for.  I can't even recall if it was something for herself or a gift for someone.

What stuck in my mind most about her was her objection to the daughter of a friend.  'She's going to university to do something arty!'  This was said with a look of grave confusion.  Then, in a half whisper, 'She wants to be a tattooist!'  Eyes wide and staring, she nods knowingly in that "yes-isn't-it-shameful!?" mannerism of the ignorant.

This kind of attitude really gets my back up.  I was extremely tempted to say 'My brother is a tattooist.'  Or something to that affect.  Yes, that would be a fib; no member of my family is employed as a tattoo artist, but what exactly is wrong with being one?

If this young woman wants to use her artistic talents in that way then more power to her.  I've seen some utterly amazing tattoo artworks; it takes someone very skilled to produce high quality art so good luck to her.

What gets me is why this woman even considered the idea that it was perfectly acceptable to berate this girl's personal decision to total strangers who potentially won't agree with her narrow-minded point of view.  Ok, if you don't like tattoos, fair enough - no one ever said we all have to like the same thing - but for goodness sake, don't go around berating people that do like them or want to work in the industry! No one is forcing you to partake!

Why do people feel the need to judge others based on their job or job aspirations?  Why are some deemed 'worthy' of respect and others not?   I've been looked down upon for working in retail, as an admin assistant and a cleaner.  Does that mean I don't do anything of importance or that I'm lacking some magical element that will make everyone respect what I do?

I've often thought to myself that when I eventually start a family, I'll encourage my children to work in whatever profession that makes them happy. Funnily enough, the idea of a tattoo artist comes up in my imaginary speech of 'You could be a tattoo artist and I wouldn't mind - so long as you're happy, I'll be happy!'

Honestly, regardless of what career choice you make, what right does anyone else have to look down their nose at you?   If it's what you want and you are happy doing it, good for you!

I Want Her Job

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A great website I came across recently - it profiles women who love their jobs.  It's proving to be quite inspirational reading in that these women all worked hard for what they wanted, discovered a dream job and are loving it.  Some have made sacrifices of their personal time but ultimately it's for something they love - they wake up in the morning and can't wait to get to work.

Some jobs are extremely well paid, others not so much.  Some practical, others creative.  High flying or a more humble position. Regardless of what the job is - what they have in common is that these 'Leading Ladies' are happy doing them.

Perhaps one day I'll be as lucky!  (And I'll counter my own statement by saying 'we make our own luck' which is what many of them did.  It would be wise to do likewise!)


Friday, 15 July 2011

Recall my recent "Blood Boiling" post?

I received some welcome news today, following on from Billy's irresponsible attitude of not bothering to come to work.

In Nora's words - "I think it's best that he doesn't work for his mother anymore."

Forgive me, but - woohoo!!!!

Billy is job hunting!  Technically he is still employed at the Shop for the time being, but it appears that in recent days he has been going to the Job Centre and coming home with reams of paper listing jobs to apply for.

Best of luck kid because you sure as hell are going to need it!!

Let's recap:  Billy is 19 years old, he has just finished college having studied music, and the only job he has had is at his mother's shop (and as far as I'm aware, he's not been employed here for much longer than I have).  I've no idea what kind of job he is looking for - I know he ideally wants to work in music, but as yet he has no idea if he'll be going to University.

That will work against him - even Nora isn't keen on hiring someone who is going off to University.  It's a waste of her time to train someone up who then leaves for ages and may not even come back.  That's unfair and presumptuous I know, but there's no denying that it does count against you if the potential boss needs someone who is guaranteed to stick around. Nora admitted that she would rather employ someone who has finished University already.

Added to that is his age and limited experience.  Points for having a job already, but the thought occurs to me; what do employers think of people who give a parent as a reference?  Yes, his mother is also his boss, but wouldn't you be concerned of the reference being a tad bias?  Then again, who else would he ask?  Me!?

Had he not pulled such a childish stunt recently I'd have been happy to provide him with a more credible reference.  Technically I am his supervisor and I get bonus points for being unrelated.  Billy has therefore shot himself right in the foot because I will not provide a reference for him, assuming he even has the cheek to ask.

Incidentally, despite Nora's assurance that Billy would phone me to apologise for his behaviour, I have not had any contact from him at all ... reload gun, aim at other foot.

I know this sounds rather mean but I am so pleased to hear he's actually in the same boat as me now.  Perhaps he'll gain a better appreciation of just how hard it is to get a job and the light to dawn on him about just how lucky he is.  Seriously, if it took me about five months to this job with a solid ten-year work history of good jobs, lots of skills and experience and good references ... just how long is it going to take him to find something?  He better not be picky that's all I'm saying!

That means that the Shop will have to hire someone new!  I pray it's someone with a more mature attitude.

Email Error

Thursday, 14 July 2011

I like to think I'm pretty knowledgeable of how to produce a good CV and what common mistakes should be avoided.  But if you do a search for such common mistakes you've got to wonder how these mistakes are even made in the first place.

This little story was told to me by a friend a few years ago.  A fellow law student was job hunting; she'd put together a marvelous CV - her education, skills and experience were all ideal for the posts she was applying for.  Yet she never got a single interview.  She just couldn't understand why and was getting dejected with each unsuccessful attempt.

Finally, she had someone look over her CV.

Everything in it was perfect, bar one element.  Her email address was something along the lines of "saucy-sex-vixen"    A million miles away from the professionalism expected!  No doubt the recruitment department took one look at that and plunked her CV in the reject pile.

She then set up a new email address, using her name, edited her CV and sent some out.

The interview offers then came rolling in.

One very stupid mistake and it cost her so many opportunities.  She did get into a law firm not long after that incident but she could have saved herself a lot of time and misery had she given just a few moments of thought to how her email address looked to potential employers.

I have two email addresses - one with a silly name for friends and family, and one made up of my name for work purposes.

Applying for jobs via email is such a common thing nowadays that I believe some individuals are shooting themselves in the foot by not sending their applications from an appropriate address.  Using your given name is the most sensible option - not nicknames, no clever puns, just keep it simple and professional.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

When I first became unemployed I pretty much kept all my options open and applied for any job going.  All I wanted was an income - hence the acceptance of two jobs of leafleting and shop assistant.

Now that I have an income, albeit limited, I can actually afford the time to consider what I really want to do.  It's a daunting prospect when I think that I'm not far off turning 30 years old.  A few years will go by alarmingly quickly.  I can't even believe it's been nearly nine months since I was last in full time employment - that's just scary.

So I've sat down, taken stock of what my current skills are, what I'm good at and what I'd like to do.  Strange as it sounds, but I do enjoy admin work - I love being organised, typing letters and things being 'just so'.  I like order and being professional.  I want a job where there are things to learn all the time, where my knowledge and skills are valued and that I'm doing something that benefits others.

As much as I liked my office job, it was endlessly frustrating that people earning 3 or 4 times my salary were so oblivious to things like the filing - it's the freaking alphabet! It's not hard to put something back in the right place!  Oh, and that flashing 'no paper' warning on the photocopier?  That means you need to reload the paper, not run to me whinging that it's broken and you have no idea what to do. Yet you are an 'officer' with a higher standing and get more respect than the lowly administration team that you rely upon so heavily for everything that you do.  That kind of thing drove me up the wall.   I want to work with professional individuals who take pride in their work.

This is has all nudged me in the direction of dental nursing.  Admittedly a random search result on a job website flagged a vacancy up and that led me to look into it more in the first instance.

I've looked into how I become registered, what's involved with becoming qualified.  I've printed off the prospectus for the examination I'll need to pass.

I like what I see.  There's a lot to learn and I would be learning on the job and attending a course for some time.  There's progression to other areas of dentistry available once qualified.  Ongoing learning is something I thrive on.  I can't not be learning something new.  The first few weeks of unemployment were almost like a nice break, a mini-holiday to relax - but it honestly does not take long for me to start climbing the walls for lack of mental stimulation.  I need a regular working pattern (Monday to Friday is ideal) and I need something to focus on, to learn new things.

You can tell I lived for school.  I hated the long summer holidays by the end - they were far too long and I wanted to go to lessons!   Even now, I'm learning Japanese and new RPG systems purely because I find so much enjoyment in learning.

Dental nursing is becoming a more appealing option to me.  It incorporates some administration tasks which is great and the skills and knowledge required are leaving me salivating!  I'm perfectly happy to wear a uniform.  I'd be supporting a dentist in his role and helping the patients; we all need dental care at some point so it's not like the profession is going to go away - it's all important stuff and I want that kind of responsibility.

I want to learn!   Truthfully, if I were rich enough to never need to work I would either spend my life attending courses and reading or else work for free at a job I could learn something from.

Research into the role of dental nurses is well underway.  I'm making a contact list of all the dental surgeries in my area and any areas I can travel to.  I'm looking into advice on how to write a better covering letter.  My CV will need polishing up again.

Ultimately, once I return from my fabulous holiday in September (the blog will go quiet for maybe 3 weeks that month, sorry!) I will be sending out CV's with a covering letter to all the dental surgeries explaining my desire to be a dental nurse.  With any luck, even if some don't have any vacancies, there'll be one who will be happy to consider me as a candidate for any post that is or will become available.

I'm loath to send out letters just yet because of my holiday.  Been saving up for it since last year and it's being booked now - don't want to contact a dentist only to turn down any interview / informal chat / job offers because I can't attend for a few weeks.   That does kind of suck, but then again, I've got to be positive and view the time I have from now until I leave as time to be spent on research and preparing my covering letters and CV's.

Perhaps this method of direct contact will be more fruitful than simply hunting all over for job adverts.

The Little Things #7

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Renewed Appreciation

I've just spent a long weekend camping at a rock and metal music festival.  Had a bloody AWESOME time!  I have no issues with camping in spite of my first time being only last year, I really enjoy it, but after several nights sleeping on the ground and using festival toilets ... (really, need I elaborate on those?)

Well, whenever I come back home I have a renewed appreciation of my comfy mattress and clean toilets with a guaranteed supply of toilet paper and soap.

Sometimes it's really nice to get away from the home comforts because when you do return you get a sense of just how lucky you are to have these luxuries.

Blood boiling

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I had a rather 'angry' Saturday at the Shop.

Nora is away on holiday.  Billy, her son, was down to come and work on Saturday.  Saturdays are a two-person working day - it's typically the busiest day of the whole week and quite often we'll get brief quiet spells followed by three or more people coming in at the same time.  (I do wonder whether they congregate outside and only come in when there's a lot of them.)

It's too much to expect for one person to cope with a Saturday crowd.  People get impatient and walk out, so the shop loses money.  It's also difficult to let people see the jewellery up close because, for obvious reasons, a member of staff needs to supervise anything that comes out of the displays.  One pair of eyes, one pair of hands.

You can already see where this is going, can't you?

Billy normally gets to work around ten or sometimes a bit later.  10 o'clock rolls around and he's not here.  Ok, perhaps the train is running a bit late.  Half ten - I'm getting a bit concerned so I phone his mobile.  It rings and goes to voicemail.  I don't leave a message as I presume he's on his way and will be here shortly.

11 o'clock, I try again.  The phone is answered and there's a lot of rustling and a groggy hello.  Billy has overslept.

Not overly impressed by that but I can appreciate this happens, so I ask him to just get here as soon as he can.  He asks 'Is it busy?' in a tone that suggests he's actually asking is it worth him coming in?   Not really the point, is it?  You're meant to be in work and just because there's no one in the shop at the precise moment I'm phoning you (it would have been rude to the customers otherwise!) that doesn't mean I'm not going to get a mad rush of customers in the next ten minutes.

So he says he's on his way.

Come 1 o'clock in the afternoon I then commence phoning him again.  This time with mixed feelings - did he nod off and not get up?  Has he fallen down the stairs and is lying unconscious in a heap at home?  Is there a problem with the trains?    I'm pretty damn concerned about him.

No answer on the phone.

I try to reassure myself that he'll see that he has a missed call on his mobile and will call me back.

Throughout the afternoon I try to contact him several times; once the line is engaged, several times it goes through to voicemail, and I leave a message telling him to call me immediately to tell me when he's getting here.

No reply.

Billy does not come to work.  He never once phones me back and I can not get hold of him - which for him is probably a blessing because I would have taken hold of him around his neck!!

So I had the joy of a busy Saturday crowd. All on my own.
  • Customers come in in large groups and several getting impatient because I physically can not serve everybody at once and walk out in a huff.  I  even had one glare at me and shake their head as they walk out!  Pardon me for there being two people ahead of you!
  • Deal with a massive delivery of jewellery boxes that needs counting and sorting, then storing which involves lugging them up and down stairs.
  • The cleaning of several cabinets in preparation for an upcoming sale.
  • The phone keeps ringing with customers demanding to know where their repairs / orders are and is it in yet (they are told very clearly that we will phone them as soon they arrive - literally, within ten minutes we're on the phone!)
  • Periodically checking the website for orders that will need to be processed.
So I'm running around like a lunatic all day long.  Nor does it help that the shop floor is uncomfortably warm as we have no air conditioning, just a fan and opening the door but that opens onto the street with the roar of the traffic which makes it hard to hear what people are saying sometimes.

I did not get a break all day.  I had to snatch mouthfuls of sandwich and sips of water whilst running in and out of the stock room for customers.  I did not once get to sit down so my feet was so sore I could barely hobble to the car park at the end of the day.  I was exhausted physically and mentally having been pre-occupied with trying to get in touch with that lazy sod.

My blood was boiling.

I don't give a monkey's behind that your mother is the boss.  She no doubt gave you the job on a plate.  But that does not mean you can just decide not to bother!

Had I dared to do that, I would fully expect to be fired!  At the very least I'd get a serious telling off and a threat of being fired should I do anything like it ever again!

Nora has now returned from her holiday and told me today that she hasn't really seen him since she got back but will get him to phone me to apologise.

So, he didn't have life-threatening accident then.  He just couldnt' be bothered.  How nice that he obviously still has a job.

I used to think he was a nice enough lad - I appreciate he doesn't want to spend the rest of his life working at the Shop but I don't think he has a clue how lucky he is to even have this job!  Plenty of teenagers are struggling to get work and he thinks it's ok to only turn up when he feels like it?  No sense of honoring commitments or supporting colleagues.

He's going to be in for a nasty shock if he ever gets a job somewhere else.  What employer would stand for someone not turning up when told?

I have decided that from now on, I'm not allowing him to leave early to catch his train, as I've done in the past - he can damn well stay and cash up (properly I might add, considering he still won't do it right), and tidy up until everything is done and then he can leave.  It's only twenty minutes until the next train, that's plenty of time to finish work properly and still get to the station so he can just suck it up.

Honestly, whatever respect I had for him has now evaporated.   And he's going to have to work bloody hard to earn it back.

The Little Things #6

Friday, 1 July 2011

Weekend Plans

I may be working on Saturday, but after work I'm heading straight to my boyfriend's home for an evening of RPG with friends (and some 'alone' time after they're gone!)

Sunday involves a leisurely drive to Bristol for Grillstock, essentially a big barbecue and music gig, with our favourite group Hayseed Dixie.  The day will be rounded off with our first visit to the Bristol branch of Hooters, and then a nice leisurely drive back home.

Round on 5.30pm tomorrow!  ^_^

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