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June 10th, 2006 (01:03 pm)

I can tell that more and more of my time is going to be taken up by job applications.

Recruitment has changed a lot since 1999. Applications seem much more rigid, with further particulars setting out narrowly defined requirements, sometimes in grids, with 'essential' and 'desirable' as headings above tick boxes. Presumably this sets forward the criteria for the interviews which can be passed back to the personnel office of the recruiting institution to meet some criteria of fairness. All well and good, but this system favours specialism and demonstrable experience in that specialism and my strength is in generalism and adaptability.

I suspect that the growth of invitations for 'informal contact' in job adverts reflects a wish to counteract this trend somewhat.

I was going to post a picture of my desk at home, but the picture itself is horrifying and reveals to me how far I need to rationalise this flat. I might even need to put it on the market soon - and several of the doors haven't been painted since I installed them five years ago, let alone the skirting boards. It's also misleading - the mead bottle by the monitor is there because I put it there weeks ago absent-mindedly, not because I write best under the influence of alcohol.

I'm sitting in the flat now, having initially intended to be at the post-finals party for RW. I hope that the SocT youngsters (a lot of them are finishing finals about now) are having a good time, probably on RW's lawn playing Brockian Ultra-Croquet. Let the sunshine play on them for as long as they want it.

The problem with my present job is that it is basically a cult which appealed to the fannish core of my soul. I'm not surprised that most of my former colleagues took months and months to find new jobs, because after TGW, I think a certain amount of deprogramming might be required, ideally not including a new all-encompassing job straight away - but I doubt that, economically, I can take the risk.


Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 02:34 pm (UTC)

I know what you mean about deprogramming, I've needed that after TWI, but of course as long as they keep dangling the chance of a temporary return in front of me, that will be difficult to achieve.

I actually like the lists of desirable/essential criteria - it makes it so much easier to write the covering letter/statement of suitability. You just go through the list identifying proofs of suitability for each point, then write it all up. If you lack some of the desirables, you ignore them, explain them, or promote your transferable skills. I managed to make a DPhil in 18C French explorers sound like sufficiently suitable background for a cataloguer of the Darwin collection at the Natural History Museum (via 18C French naturalists)... I know little about Darwin, but frankly, how many experienced cataloguers with knowledge of Darwin and Latin or European languages can there be?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 02:56 pm (UTC)

I find that it's a lot of effort to finesse what I can do to the lists of requirements they make; the door for imagination has been narrowed, I feel. I might be being too bleak, and I know that I will get better with practise.

I failed to make the connection between my failure to tidy up, and the sense that all my effort should be directed towards TGW. It is there! Hence the wish to deprogramme - or just take a week off in an attempt to properly catalogue and reorganise the flat, and possibly allocate unwanted items to new homes.

Perhaps I could get a research grant for it from the AHRB... *thinks wishfully*

Posted by: tovaglia (tovaglia)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)

I was always under the impression that the list of essential/desirable criteria were the things that got you an interview (made you "appointable"), and then they gave you the job or not depending on whether they thought you'd fit in.

Mind you, I really don't know anything about job applications outside my own little specialised world. Which has the curious feature that everyone is trained to be identically-functioning cogs in the machine, and so the person specification tends to end up implying that predictable, unthreatening mediocrity is what is required. I don't think that this reflects the type of person they actually want, but I suspect that nobody can think of anything else to say that would get pass HR and the equality and diversity policies.

In summary: Application forms are designed by one lot of people. The people who actually decide whether or not to hire you are, by and large, another lot of people.

Are things also like this out in the real world?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)

I think that historical research counts as the real world as much as your field!

I think I've let myself be scared by a change of format. I was used to essential and desirable requirements being expressed in a paragraph or two; if nothing else, you could spend the interview arguing about what that paragraph actually meant. Now there's an attempt to make everything more straightforward.

Posted by: rustica (rustica)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)

The thing that made me stop and think was, "What happens to recruiters who don't get it right? They end up hunting for a new job themselves." What you are seeing is, I think, people watching their own backs and making sure that they have a nice paper trail to back up their decisions.

But tovaglia is right. Your application is just to get your foot in the door. The important bit comes later.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 10th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)

I think that I occasionally need to be reminded of the obvious!

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: June 11th, 2006 08:41 pm (UTC)

I want to see the horrifying desk! You can't just build it up like that then leave us hanging on in suspense!

(& good luck with the jobhunt...)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 11th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)

The horrifying desk is now uploaded!

The job hunt is going a bit better, actually - more on which, perhaps, later.