Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The post in which my ramblings turn into a rant...

There seems to be something wrong with my computer, so I'm attempting to compose this post from my iPhone. I'm not enjoying it nearly as much as I usually do from my laptop. Why? Because I can't see the big picture.

Because the iPhone screen is small and half of it is taken up by the keyboard as I write, I can only see a small portion of what I've written. I really hope that when Chris gets home from work he'll be able to take a look at my computer and work some magic. What a blessing to have a husband that can turn his hand to anything!

As I write, my TV is showing me round-the-clock Queensland flood disaster coverage. There have been so many pictures and so much video of rising water that I think I'm becoming desensitised to it. Every half hour or so the news anchor details new towns and suburbs that are being evacuated, new roads that are cut, new flood levels that are being reached, and it just doesn't seem real.

The flooding is hundreds of kilometres to the north of me, and it's difficult to feel connected to the people that are in the midst of the crisis. For me here, the worst of my trouble is the fact that I'm having dreadful trouble getting my washing dry due to the constant rain. Not much of a problem in the scheme of things, is it?

Today I sent off another job application. Yay me, woo-hoo...

Do you hear that I'm not feeling it?

Today I asked for some feedback from the last job that I applied for. It was for a General Library Assistant position, which is beneath my qualification level. It is more on an entry level position, requiring only the completion of high school, whereas I have sixteen years teaching experience and a Masters level qualification in Information Science.

Some of the typical tasks that the job would entail include assisting clients at library service points (checking out books), assist with collection and equipment maintenance and relocation of resources (cover books, move furniture) and maintain the clerical routines associated with this work (process overdue books, take bookings for computer labs). All of which I am perfectly able to do. I don't want to sound bitter, but all of which I could do standing on my head...with one hand tied behind my back...blindfolded. Uh oh, I think I sound bitter.

For the past ten years I have been managing my own small business providing Mathematics Tuition and Music Lessons to students of all ages and abilities. I promote my business, do all the lesson planning, do all the teaching, prepare my students for Examinations, do the books, schedule lesson appointments, evaluate my students' progress and communicate with parents.

It was a big decision for me to embark on a career change. It meant two full years of demanding study that had to be fit in to my already busy life of work and family. Now that I'm finished, I'm finding it very discouraging that it is so difficult to find a job.

The feedback from my application for the General Library Assistant position? There were close to 100 applicants, and though my application was on the right track, it didn't merit selection for an interview. The applicants chosen to be interviewed showed a deeper understanding and experience with regard to the selection criteria.

So what's the problem here?

Probably there were simply other applicants that had more experience than me working in libraries. Which wouldn't be hard, given that I have never had a job in a library other than my two weeks work experience during my study. I know that I don't have experience working in libraries, that's why I applied for the Library Assistant position, which is as low as you can go without being a volunteer...which doesn't pay...and I need to be paid. Is volunteering the only way I am going to be able to gain enough experience to actually find a job? Bearing in mind that I am going on 40 and have years behind me teaching and parenting and running a small business and generally being a responsible adult with a mortgage and living my life. You don't think that maybe I have enough life experience to cope with the work? Sorry, my bitterness is showing.

Probably I also need to work on the way I address the selection criteria when I'm writing my job applications. I need to find the words that will convince my prospective employers that I have the qualities and skills required to be a valuable asset to the library. 

I truly want to have a long term career in the information world. (I figure I've probably got 30 good working years left in me!) I see myself working in an intellectually stimulating environment in which I can provide a real and valuable service to library clients. I see myself as a dynamic member of my workplace team, a mover-and-shaker if you like, who shows enthusiasm for innovation and improvement. I see myelf writing papers and contributing at conferences...I'm dreaming big! But first I need to actually get paid to work in a library so that I can focus all my "work" attention in the one direction. If I have to continue to maintain my tuition business and volunteer at a library and search for a job all at the same time, I'm going to get exhausted pretty quickly. And I'm going to be tempted to give up. Which I really don't want to do.

Sorry for the ranting. I'll shut up now. Wish me luck with the job hunting...


Christine Smith said...

Ah Fiona. Having been on many panels and applied for many unsuccessful jobs (I gave up), let me tell you that it isn't your job application or how you address the selection criteria. If they have someone in mind it doesn't matter how good your application is. The entire selection criteria is a crock of you know what. Often the job doesn't go to the best applicant. Unfortunately it's who you know. A sad fact and an indictment of this entire process. What about doing casual work in schools as a librarian? It could be a foot in the door.

Dillypoo said...

I hate, Hate, HATE job hunting! It took me several years to find the job I have now after the company I loved working for went out of business. I found out they were closing their doors on my husband's first day of grad school (he had quit his job so he could go)! Timing is everything.

My advice is to take any job offered (sounds like you will so long as it pays...wise!) and go on any and all interviews, even if you're not particularly interested in the position. The experience will help for when The Job interview finally appears.

Good luck and don't get too discouraged. (And thanks for reassuring those of us who have no idea about Australian geography that you and yours are safe!)

Brandy@YDK said...

i'm so sorry. job hunting sucks ass. have you tried a professional resume writer? someone to give you that edge? maybe join a librarian guild or something? network? i would hire you!

Cathy said...

I agree with Christine which is unfortunate. I have seen way too many jobs filled by someone that knows the boss, or someone already in the school etc.
try and get casual work in schools etc around you so that you are the person positioned in the right spot when a job is advertised.
By the way I have just finished my placement at Yamba libary and now find myself unable to get home as we are cut off by the Clarence River flooding, possibly for a week they are saying. Oh well at least my report will be done.

GeeGee said...

Chin up! I do agree with Christine that many people do not get jobs on merit but because they are related to ,or know someone. I detest nepotism.

I have been been self employed and it is commendable to be your own boss but in some situations it is hard to demonstrate how you are a team player and how you collaborate with others. I am not saying of course that you don't have these skills or you did not demonstrate them, it is just a thought.

I am looking for a job as TL and am considering other libraries as well. (I met you last year during CSU's library tours!) I have had three blocks in a primary school library and loved it. Maybe you could consider casual work in a school library.

Good luck and kind regards from Glenda

Frizzy and Bird said...

Regardless of why you weren't chosen for the interview or the job it hurts something terrible. It makes you question who you are and all you know and have done to this point. Do not let the journey break you. The ladies above had some great food for thought on ways to sneak in or kick the door down if you will for hiring. Also, I understand there are almost always "Key" words or phrases on any job resume in the job description itself. Have you tried tayloring your resume to fit each job description using their similar wording? Just a thought. Many jobs choose applicants by the number of "hits" each application gets that coincide with these basic requirements.

By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog today. I certainly hope you'll join me next week on Fab Five Friday.