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Why job-hunting sucks*

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that I have become very disenchanted with my job of late. This comes down to a number of issues, namely: a poor change management process; a new manager who I find difficult – nay impossible! – to work with; and a loss of my higher duties allowance (decided by said new manager). Of course, because I can’t change any of this, it means that I am job-hunting.

I am luckier than most. I have tertiary qualifications in education and communication and a c.v. that demonstrates I can turn my hand to practically anything from project management to marketing communications to corporate learning and development. I am a high achiever, who’s outcomes-oriented. I am a people person. I have tonnes of experience in a range of different work environments. I always want the best for the organisation for which I work, even if it means telling inconvenient truths. You would think that this would make me highly employable. You would think I’d be a risk-free appointment. You would think that employers** would be champing at the bit to have me on the payroll. But I’m finding this isn’t the case at all.

I am pretty fussy about the jobs I apply for. I won’t apply for anything that has someone acting in the position (nine times out of ten the incumbent always wins the job), or where I have to go through a recruitment agency (I don’t like the concept of gatekeepers), or where I have to answer selection criteria (it takes so long to do and it’s not good ROI in terms of time/interview ratio).

So I applied for a role a couple of weeks ago that I thought was perfect. A level higher, doing the same sort of corporate learning and development work, with a communications bent. Perfect! I checked with the chair of the panel, and found that it was a new position (perfect!) and I just to submit a cover letter and a c.v. directly to the chair (perfect and perfect!). I knew I would get an interview. And I did.

To attend psychometric testing at a recruitment company. What the?! That wasn’t on the ad! If it was, I would not have touched that job with a barge pole.

But I went to the testing. I figured I’d put the application in, I’d already started the process, so I might as well see it through. But I instinctively railed against it. I saw someone who was 14 (if he was a day) who tested my ability to comprehend English, compute mathematical problems and to think laterally. Internally, I screamed: I have a Masters degree, for God’s sake. I was a PhD candidate! I could have told them I was an ENFJ if they asked. Actually, he didn’t ask, but I told him anyway. And I also told him there was no transparency in the process, and that I wouldn’t have applied for the job if I knew there were hoops I had to jump through. I thought that was that: I won’t get a “proper” interview because I told him what I thought.

But I did. And I prepared. And I had an excellent interview (I had to do a writing test, and again I thought: I have a Masters degree in Communication Management, for God’s sake!). But overall, I felt like I had aced an exam and was expecting an A. I was extremely positive about the outcome. That job was mine!

When the chair of the panel called yesterday, I was advised that I had produced the best written piece (of course!), was confident in the interview, came across as energetic and passionate, experienced and capable. But I didn’t get the job. I was pipped at the post by an internal candidate “who was familiar with the change process of the organisation, and could hit the ground running”. What the?!

And, in my experience, this example is exactly why being a job-hunter sucks, why I blogged about how sucky the process was a couple of years ago and why I started a website rating the recruitment processes of employers. As one of my colleagues pointed out: I was merely a cog in the wheel for that particular government department to “prove” they had the best candidate, for whom the position had probably been created. If anyone ever questioned the appointment, the department concerned can say: but we went out to a wide pool of candidates, short-listed, tested and interviewed them, and this person (who we’ve now appointed) has won the position on “merit”.

And no one ever questions it, except perhaps, other candidates.

* Consider yourselves warned: this is another ranty post.

** To be honest, I am limiting myself to government jobs. I have just been made permanent, and at my age, I am not keen to give that up. I like the benefits of flexi-time, of superannuation that’s pretty generous, of the ability to take leave without pay and have a job to come back to if I want to swan around the world for 12 months. Generally, I also like the people I work with in the public service.


Did this post resonate with you?

Collection 4: Working It Out of the Love & Other Brave Acts (Essays on Courage for Fearless and Fabulous Living) series is all about work, workplaces and organisational culture.If you liked this post, then you’ll love my collection of essays about work.

Part memoir, part analysis of workplace culture, I consider the world of work and the definition of career success. And anyone who has found themselves disillusioned about the progress of their career—and that’s a lot of us!—will relate to this book.

Grab your copy of Collection 4: Working is Out  from the Amazon Kindle Store for .99c.

(If you want even more value for money, you can now get all 6 books from the Love & Other Brave Acts series for $4.99. Just saying.)

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