The Difficulties of Finding a Job
I started my publishing company, Tiger of the Stripe, ten years ago. It has been a struggle to make any money and, with competition from free or cheap ebooks, the situation was getting worse. The obvious solution was to get a job with someone else. I've applied for many publishing jobs over the years, for some of which I was exceptionally well suited, but in the last few years no-one has even offered me an interview. Is this ageism? I don't know, but I suspect it is.
It's not that I'm determined to work in publishing. I need to pay the bills and I'm really quite happy doing almost any sort of work. I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of part-time jobs available at a local branch of a large British company (I'll spare their blushes as I intend to take this up with their HR Director). Their job site is a bit of a mess. The first thing I noticed was when I tried to apply for some of the jobs I was informed that they were no longer available. So why were they still listed on the site? The second thing I noticed was that the database-driven website kept hanging up or coming up with error messages. The most irritating (and frequent) error message informed me that I had hit one of my browser navigation buttons and would have to start again. This was simply not true; I had followed the instructions to the letter and had not touched my browser's navigation buttons. Every so and often, I would be presented with an Oracle database log-in page, something which was clearly not supposed to happen. I reported these problems to the system administrators twice. Eventually (after two days of crashes), I completed a 17-page online application and hit the submit button. Guess what? Yes, you're right, I had another message telling me I'd be using my browser navigation buttons.
At that point, I decided it was time to give up. By the next day I was beginning to wonder if I should have shown more determination. Then I had a text message. 'Great news!' it said (complete with exclamation mark, or what some of us old hands call a 'shriek'), I had a telephone interview. Although I wasn't entirely happy with the way my application had been handled to date, and although I detest telephone interviews, I thought I should go through with it. I phoned up and was put through to a pleasant-sounding man who asked me the usual questions. He also informed me that I'd have to come up with some different references. Because I have been working for myself, I don't have any recent references.
So I went away and came up with some new ones. This time I was put through to a pleasant-sounding woman. My first referee was a man who now holds a very senior position at Cambridge University Press. He was no good, apparently, because he had been my subordinate when we had worked together. I don't really understand this. Doesn't his opinion count for anything? OK, how about my second referee? He was my line manager, so they can't object to him. Oh yes they can! They want his work address. He's retired, I tell them. Oooh, that's no good then. I explain the difficulty of providing references. They suggest my clients/customers. My customers mostly buy my books from Amazon. What do they know about me?
At this point, I retired to lick my wounds. However, just to rub salt into the aforementioned wounds, every day for the next week I received a 'Great news!' text message, until the coup de grâce: 'your application has been unsuccessful'.
Now to write to the HR Director. I have a few home truths to share with her.
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