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I’m Doing Something Wrong here – employment

By Vanessa - 9 March 2012 34

I returned to Canberra last year after six years of living in Christchurch, NZ. Earthquakes  brought me back – believe me, terra firma is much more conducive to peace of mind.

I ‘ve  spent all my adult working life in Canberra (apart from baby breaks and the above) so of course I began seeking employment here. I thought I had a great resume of experience, honourable work ethic, enthusiasm – all that great stuff. Combine that with a local unemployment rate of around 3% and I had no doubts about successful job hunting.

Enthusiastic optimism turned to bewildered dismay over the course of a few months as I failed to find *any* employment in the public sector. I registered at temp agencies, government temp registers, applied for jobs, scoured the online APS gazette – writing up what I thought were reasonable applications. I had employed friends look at my resume – was it up to date? Not too waffley? Acceptable format? Enough information? Yes, yes, yes were the responses.

Still no success. As my savings dwindled I came to the soul destroying realisation that I would need to apply for a job seeker benefit, something I have not done since I was 18 – and then only for 5 weeks. That was waaaaay back in the 70s. I’ve always worked. I don’t want to be on a benefit. I have a good brain, a lifetime of experience, a yearning to contribute productively, yet still I fail. I refuse to accept that over-45s are not employable. Maybe I’m wrong about this?

Any thoughts, suggestions, ideas, criticisms will be gladly received.

What’s Your opinion?


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34 Responses to
I’m Doing Something Wrong here – employment
steveu 4:10 pm 09 Mar 12

schmeah said :

The market is tight. Really tight. It’s all I can do to NOT beg in an interview for the job.

Agree with you there about the market.

The big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about in this country is that we are in a recession, the job market is super tight (maybe even more than GFC1? I dunno), banks are not lending people money as there isnt much money out there in the ocean of money overseas (where all our borrowings tend to come from), so without people being able to borrow money they cant make money, and the economy grinds to a halt. Sooner or later someone will stand up and admit we are sitting in GFC2. You dont have to drive too far outside of Canberra to see whats happening at the moment.

People are leaving/being sacked from jobs and not being replaced. This means everyone is working longer hours to cover the work that was done by people who are not being replaced. People are concerned about the market in general and so they are willing to go with the flow and work longer hours etc. both in the public and private sector, IMHO.

thebiz 4:09 pm 09 Mar 12

Employment agencies I think would be a good option for you. As Duffbowl mentioned, you need to target the right agency for your sort of skills.
You need to also be proactive when it comes to agencies. What I mean by this is that recruitment company receive positions from their client, they then put together a short list of people they feel would be most appropriate for that client. Once they have found a short list they submit the CVs. They may have had people fresh in mind who recently come across their desk, therefore a candidate search is not needed, thus your name does not come up.
Send them an e-mail once a week and phone once a week letting them know you are still on the look out…You are fresh in their mind, a job comes in…Vanessa would be perfect for this…Also request a meet and greet so they can also put a face to the CV.

I hope this makes sense and if you are in ICT let me know as this is what I specialise in.

All the best with your job hunting.

screaming banshee 4:07 pm 09 Mar 12

That you only seem willing to consider public sector employment disturbs me greatly.

Snarky 4:03 pm 09 Mar 12

My sympathies, Vanessa. Although I haven’t been looking for a full time job for many years (self-employed) I do remember it can be a soul-destroying experience.

A couple of others have already pointed this out, but don’t just go by the job ads. It’s said that only about 15-20% of job vacancies ever get advertised – the rest are filled by word of mouth, staff recommendations, family etc etc etc.

So, tap into this – hit the streets with a nicely presented resume, and a clear and easily articulated message to a potential employer. Go in, ask for the boss, make your pitch if you can but leave your resume if you can’t, and always, ALWAYS follow up a week later.

Most of the time you’ll get fobbed off. Don’t take it personally, that’s just how it goes. But someone, somewhere will be looking for someone like you. And it only take one – you only need one job, after all. Good luck!

Watson 4:00 pm 09 Mar 12

harvyk1 said :

Don’t bother with temp agencies, what they really want is numbers on the books so they can say “we have 20,000 names” to potential employers to encourage them to sign with the agency. Furthermore many agencies actually have restrictions of trade which means a placement with the temp agency can not turn into something more (without going through the agency). In fact don’t bother signing up with any agency, instead keep looking through the jobs boards (esp if there is a board for your particular area) and applying for any jobs you see on the board.

Many jobs you’ll see in the PS gazette will be job renewals as others have said. Unless you are truly fantastic and the incumbent is truly bad, those are simply a formality and anyone who applies for them stand no chance.

The other thing, friends are not usually the best people to read over your resume, they are unlikely to give good honest responses. Consider getting a professional resume writer to review your resume, I did that a few years back and scored myself a good job within a week.

Finally there are jobs out there, a friend of mine managed to pick up a new job within 3 weeks after been let go from his old job (that was about a month ago), so there are jobs there for the taking.

When I started looking for work in Canberra about 10 years ago, I found the agencies really helpful. Started with data entry jobs and went from there to ASO5 PS temp contracts to a permanent job. Maybe it was because there was more work then or maybe the agencies changed, wouldn’t know, I’m sorry.

I agree with lots of PS jobs already having people acting in them and having a huge advantage. It is worth calling the contact officer and asking them this question directly. Mind you, I have seen a couple of cases where the person acting in the job lost out to an external person after the recruitment process. But it is very rare and you may want to save yourself the dissapointment…

harvyk1 3:44 pm 09 Mar 12

Don’t bother with temp agencies, what they really want is numbers on the books so they can say “we have 20,000 names” to potential employers to encourage them to sign with the agency. Furthermore many agencies actually have restrictions of trade which means a placement with the temp agency can not turn into something more (without going through the agency). In fact don’t bother signing up with any agency, instead keep looking through the jobs boards (esp if there is a board for your particular area) and applying for any jobs you see on the board.

Many jobs you’ll see in the PS gazette will be job renewals as others have said. Unless you are truly fantastic and the incumbent is truly bad, those are simply a formality and anyone who applies for them stand no chance.

The other thing, friends are not usually the best people to read over your resume, they are unlikely to give good honest responses. Consider getting a professional resume writer to review your resume, I did that a few years back and scored myself a good job within a week.

Finally there are jobs out there, a friend of mine managed to pick up a new job within 3 weeks after been let go from his old job (that was about a month ago), so there are jobs there for the taking.

Duffbowl 3:11 pm 09 Mar 12

Depending on your quals, you may need to target a recruiting agency that specialises.

As others have commented, the productivity dividend increase has hit more than a few departments, with most roles being filled internally, people moving up, and the lower level roles not being immediately filled.

Contracting individuals *may* find it more difficult as departments move towards rationalising who they deal with. Panels of service providers vice recruiting agencies are being touted around the place.

Msl 3:07 pm 09 Mar 12

150% agree about agencies being ashtrays. Don’t they get money from the government when they get you to ‘sign up’? They make you think they are your best friend and there to help you and will place you straight away in your dream role with top salary. But I don’t really know of anyone who’s got work through an agency. One wondered why I didn’t want to give up my permanent 7 year job, for THREE weeks temp work.

I agree that people do become ear marked for roles. But I have hears of outsiders fluking the role over the person who was ear marked – it’s even happened to me before. I think gov agencies shouldn’t have to advertise externally (or ‘encourage applicants’) as it gets peoples hopes up. A good application is hours and hours of work.

Good luck Vanessa – the right job is out there for you.

phototext 3:06 pm 09 Mar 12

Looking for work can be a depressing thing to have to do. Been there, it sucks.

APS may not be the best bet, private industry, although struggling, don’t have the same restrictions for hiring and firing as the APS.

Although it can be a bit disheartening at times, cold calling does work a lot of the time, you may have to cold call a lot of places but better than eating cat food. 😉

Use Google maps, Google and Yellow pages, look at an area, narrow down who might be worth visiting, google the business, get a whole bunch of CVs printed and hit the streets.

First few times can be nerve racking but after a few goes you get the patter down. Just try to be relaxed, friendly and never be pushy.

As to the dole, there aint no shame in it. Also, if you do go on it, you do get benefits that can make getting a job easier such as your wage for 12 weeks subsidised by the government (still happens ?). Can make the difference between being hired or not.

schmeah 2:42 pm 09 Mar 12

While I’m currently employed, my job is slowly killing me with boredom and being surrounded by wankers.

I must have applied for 20 plus jobs in the last 12 months. Some of which I was probably out of my depth with, but gave it a shot anyway, and others I’ve been interviewed for and my referees called. All to nothing; some jobs have been ‘restructured’ (meaning they just disappeared), others I was told my application was excellent only there was another candidate more appropriate (read, already marked for the job), others still I never heard anything from.

The market is tight. Really tight. It’s all I can do to NOT beg in an interview for the job.

steveu 2:24 pm 09 Mar 12

Recruitment is happening internally, not externally – agencies don’t want extra mouths to feed when they have a 4% efficiency dividend to meet. You are feeling the state of the job market in general that’s all. Unemployment figures generally are a really good exercise in how to fudge figures.

Don’t stress.

Felix the Cat 2:15 pm 09 Mar 12

My experience with job agencies is they are as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, they just sign you up so it looks to potential employers that they have heaps of jobseekers on the books. I signed up with a few different ones, 2 of them I never heard from again and the third kept notifying me about jobs that I had no experience, qualification or desire to do and then threaten to blacklist me if I refused to go for interview at one of these workplaces. I wanted a clerical type job in Civic or Belconnen and they wanted to send me for an interview as a storeperson at a warehouse in Queanbeyan!

As for the PS jobs you have applied for, perhaps they were already filled but the department had to “go through the motions” of advertising becasue the rules say they do.

I don’t mean to criticize because I don’t know you but maybe you need to settle for “any” job like a checkout chick or waitress and then at least you have some money coming in and in the meantime keep looking for a job that you really want.

colourful sydney rac 2:13 pm 09 Mar 12

Genie said :

Your problem is that you’re applying for jobs in the public sector. Although they won’t use the phrase, most Gov Departments are going through a ‘recruitment freeze’. Everyone just lost a massive chunk of their funding and jobs have to go.

this.

devils_advocate 2:05 pm 09 Mar 12

What about qualifications? Are they sufficient high and in fields relevant to the jobs you are going for?

I know from experience that there were a number of senior managers throughout the APS who had risen to fairly senior positions due to tenure, but if they had to apply for their own jobs again would probably not get them due to competing against others with much more and better qualifications.

As noted above there is a hiring freeze on, so it’s a bit of an employer’s market out there and speaking for my own experience on panels I certainly look at qualifications, especially if having to differentiate between two otherwise competitive candidates.

Genie 1:15 pm 09 Mar 12

Your problem is that you’re applying for jobs in the public sector. Although they won’t use the phrase, most Gov Departments are going through a ‘recruitment freeze’. Everyone just lost a massive chunk of their funding and jobs have to go.

I don’t consider your age to be a problem. The last few staff we did manage to hire are significantly older than you.

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