Tag Archives: interview

the Job Centre

That’s right, I applied for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). I only needed to go in and sign on every fortnight; where is the inconvenience in it?However, due to new laws regarding government hand-outs’ it was actually quite an ordeal.

Let me explain; in order to secure JSA one needs to prove they really are out there pounding the pavement looking for work. Not only keeping a “My Work Plan” journal that your coach assess every week but you also have to complete 21 steps (for myself this was each week) to ensure you receive your JSA. What can these steps be?

  • Logging onto a job site and searching
  • Applying for a job
  • Enquiring about work experience or employment
  • Organising/attending interviews

So there is quite a bit involved with getting your £56.80 a week.

What can I say about my first interview with the Job Centre?
As you would stereotypically expect there were a few tracksuit clad people stood outside the entrance, some young parents and one young man professing he had a great business plan but no evidence with him to prove it. On the whole the experience was far better than that of the previous day. I was greeted by a friendly woman who took me over to an ‘over 25s coach’ who discussed the criteria I’d have to meet to qualify for JSA and explained my next meeting would be with a member of the 18-24 team.

Afterwards she asked to take a look at my CV, she gave me a few helpful hints; add a header or a footer so that if the pages get separated they can be re-paired; just list the number of GCSEs you have grade A-C (i.e. 8 GCSEs grade A-C including English & Maths); and that the average employer will only spend 30 seconds reading a CV before they decided whether or not to discard it.

She then said something I didn’t agree with”you need to depersonalise your CV”. Now while I appreciate her input it seems inherently wrong to me that a CV should be impersonal; by all means avoid the overuse of the word “I” but by every means make it personal. How else will you stand out from a crowd of other job seeker?

The newly formed cynic in me is fairly certain that her main priority is to get me in any form of employment, even if that means asking “would you like fries with that?”.  Unfortunately for the people at job centre I wasn’t just looking to settle for any job. I hadn’t left further education to take the first dead end job I was offered. 

But in order to satisfy the job centre I re-wrote my CV.

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first contact

The evening of January 20th saw my first 7 job applications head out into cyber space. Apprehensive and elated about my first steps out into the real world I went to bed knowing I had had my first two productive days of 2014.

One of the positions I have applied for is a street fundraiser for the British Red Cross, I can’t imagine I’ll enjoy a job where people will go out of their way to avoid me, but with a sympathetic heart and little to no work experience I decided to apply for anything and everything. But to my delight there were advertisements for people in my ‘predicament’ “Customer Service & Sales Assistant – No Experience Necessary” & “URGENT! Customer Service / Sales / Trainee – Manchester“; how wonderful jobs where I can start from the bottom and work my way up!

(Stop rolling your eyes, I do eventually realise my mistake.)

On the 21st I got up early to go to my horse, George. He greeted me with a cuddle and I gave him a fuss before getting him his breakfast and mucking out. I finished his stable and checked my phone, I had a missed call. I ring the number only to get the voice mail of Rachel calling on behalf of Open Advertising. I decided not to leave a voice mail as George was being noisy and I thought that may have left a weird impression. I switched my phone off silent so I didn’t miss another call and what would you know, 10 minutes later my phone was ringing again. YES, you guessed it, it was Rachel. She called me sweetie a lot, double checked I had applied for a position with them and informed me that her manager was very impressed with my CV. “Would you like to come in for an interview?” she had my attention “how about tomorrow? is 1:30pm okay?” she had me excited. Of course I said yes. The phone call ended. In the midst of the nerves and the excitement I didn’t hear the alarm bells. All I could think was “whats all this it’s really hard to find a job, I only applied last night and I already have an interview for tomorrow!”.

The rest of my day went as normal; I bought horse feed, sheath cleaner, leather feed & polish for the bridle I’d been neglecting and whilst at the saddlery I got yet another phone call! (No, you guessed wrong, it wasn’t Rachel). This time it was a Scottish woman, lets call her Zoe. She didn’t say the name of the company she was ringing on the behalf of, though her accent was strong so I may have just missed it. Again I was invited for an interview the next day (10am)! Well after seeing to Georgie for a 2nd time, I went home to try and figure out if I had the correct ‘business attire’. I didn’t. I shopped.

I planned my travel arrangements for the next morning, the 08:50 train from Crewe to Stockport and the 09:35 train from Stockport to Davenport Station to then walk to the Alma Lodge on Buxton Road for my 1st interview.

05:30 I wake up, I can’t sleep properly due to the build up of nerves and excitement for my day ahead. I try to go back to sleep as my alarm isn’t going off till 06:45.

The alarm sounds.

I caught my first train still nervous and the feeling growing. I got off at Stockport to find my next train is delayed. Great. I finally got to Davenport and put the postcode into my phone for directions to the Alma Lodge (I still cannot hear the alarm bells). My phone sent me 10 minutes in the wrong direction. I rang ” Hi, this is Jasmin I have an interview at 10am with Zoe Richards, I’ve gotten a little lost walking from Davenport Station could you let her know I am on my way and I should be with her in 5 minutes”. The receptionist re-directed me and eventually I arrived. “Oh hi Jasmin, I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to ring you back. I sent someone down to tell Zoe and she asked you to come back at 12, but she will have only just started so just go down”. She directed me down the stairs, I checked my face in a mirror and hurried down.

I sheepishly knocked on the door and Scottish woman (yes, Zoe) opens it. “Hi I’m Jasmin, I’m so sorry I’m late”
“Can you please come back at 12”
“I’m afraid I can’t I have another interview in Manchester at half 1”
“Well here take this and we can rearrange” she passes me an A4 sheet of paper with a job description and contact details.

I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly at roughly 11am I decided a coffee was definitely required. I pulled out the information sheet.

I’ll only bore you with the 1st 4 bullet points:

  • weekly pay
  • earning up to 15% commission on sales
  • year 1 on target earning £50k uncapped
  • St Helens Glass have been trading for over 43 years and install Grade A energy efficient winder, doors, conservatories and roofline across the UK

It finally happened; the alarm bells rang. I pulled out my phone and turned to google Fate had intervened and saved me from a bullet.

 

The alarm bells grew louder; I started thinking about how easy I got these interviews. I started doing some research on Open Advertising (OA). Well the website wasn’t associated with the sound of alarms. But I still wasn’t satisfied.

I came across this: http://zainabusman.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/how-i-fell-victim-to-a-recruitment-scam-in-the-uk/ and this is when the alarm bells became deafening.

“When I got the call for an interview the next day, I was so excited, being an international student, and knowing how difficult it is to land a job anywhere in these hard times.”

I got a call for interview the day after applying…

Well I’ll go and just see what it’s like. It’s all experience at the end of the day.

“…the office was used by 8 other similar marketing firms…”

Oh.

“There were hordes of applicants dressed in formal attire like myself, sitting, waiting for interviews for the numerous firms”

“I also found it strange that what was meant to be an interview (that is, the potential employer asking questions and myself, the applicant responding) turned out to be me sitting in front of the manager, in his untidy office, listening to him talk about progression to managerial position in 9 months.”

This isn’t exactly what happened to me. I got called into the office and Diane asked me about my previous work experience, whether I’d be interested in a job with the possibility of progression and that OA are rapidly expanding and wanting to taking on as many new sales execs’ and progressing them as soon as possible to managerial positions.

The ‘formalities’ ended there. Diane began asking about my interests, I told her about George and the next ten minutes consisted of her talking to me about George and her sons pet fish. Alarm bells were still sounding, she said something astonishing “I’d like to invite you back to a second interview, are you free at 11:30… tomorrow? You’ll spend the day observing a member of our sales team and then be asked to do a quick test, don’t worry it’s really easy, and if you pass that we’ll offer you a job at the end of the day”.

“After the “interview” I was told that I would be contacted that same day, between 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm, to be notified if I had made it through to the second stage and that if I did, I would be expected to attend an assessment which would last an entire day, from 12.30 pm to 8.30 pm. I eventually received the call around 6.30 pm that I was “successful” and was expected to attend the assessment day the very next day.”

“At the assessment day, I kept feeling very uneasy as it became more evident that the only thing to be done in that job role is intensive door-to-door sales. All of a sudden, the initial fancy-pansy “Customer Service Representative” role dissolved and transformed into “Independent Sales Advisor”. It became increasingly apparent that they expected us to spend the whole day outside, essentially harassing and pestering people…”

“What was even more worrying and unbelievable was that we, the applicants, were made to sign some disclaimers stating that we were not employees of Primus and that we are not entitled to any pay or benefits or claims. So if I get hit by a car for instance while running around from house to house pestering and extorting money from people, there’s nothing the firm can or will do.”

“The employee is also made to dress in formal attireand work from around 10.00 am till 8.30 pm (you actually report back to the office by 8.30 pm and fully close for the day between 9.00 to 10.00pm) Mondays to Saturdays! In addition, the pay is entirely based on commission if you meet a minimum target for the day/week (about £13 per day I think) otherwise, you get nothing.”

I told Diane I’d have to rearrange some things, she said she’d send me an email for conformation of my invitation to an ‘assessment day’ and that she looked forward to seeing me again.

I never saw Diane again.

I left at 14:00 and by 14:32 I had received the email.

I fell ‘victim’ to not 1 but 2, yes 2, RECRUITMENT SCAMS.

In summary, that morning I left the house completely naive; by that evening I had become cynical and very much hardened to the challenge I had embarked on.

http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-recruitment-scams
http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=62171091
http://whocallsme.com/Phone-Number.aspx/01612340136  (the comments on this thread also gave me some warning about OA)