Looking for a new job is hard work, you have to scoured various websites, uploading, editing and adapting your CV time and time again, selling your personal information to the lowest bidder. After you’ve spent a couple of hours doing this, you sit back and feel accomplished, if only the entire process felt like this!
If you’re unlucky you hear nothing further, except for the occasional email rejecting you but being super kind and thanking you for thinking of them, telling you lies like “we’ll keep your details on file”, file meaning the bin.
If you’re “lucky” first thing the next day, your phone won’t stop ringing with calls from recruitment agencies wanting to check you’re a real human being. If that call goes well, you’ll then be invited to meet with them, this is so they can check that you’re presentable, it’s an unpervy first date, or so you hope. Therefore, you arrange to meet them before work (having had no sleep), on your lunch break (missing the chance to actually eat), or after work (when you’re mentally exhausted from your day job). Off you trot to meet this person who is apparently worthy to judge your every whim and word.
I was applying for Personal Assistant roles which meant that not only did I have to be presentable, organised and good at communication, it traditionally involves four Prove-It tests for Microsoft Office, a typing test, a spelling test and grammar test, oh the good old days haven’t left us yet!
The Prove-It tests are simple, however, if like me you often use shortcut keys or the right click menu, you’re going to fail every simple test:
Can you change this line of typing to italic?
“Yes I can” you scream in your brain, you automatically right click.
“No you can’t” it tells you, asking you whether you want to move to the next question because you failed that question.
“Bugger, fuck” you stammer and yet there is still the question: Next Question? You finally manage to complete that question, proving to yourself that you’re not a dumbass. And the next question loads triumphantly, while the elf that operates the test laughs uncontrollably at your stupidity.
“Can you save this document?”
“Duh, of course I can!”, and off go your fingers hitting ‘Apple S’ or ‘Ctrl S’, before you’ve even considered that your way, isn’t the tests way, and up pops that dreaded question, ‘Next Question?’
“FUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!!!!” you seethe through gritted teeth and this is only the 4th question, what will happen when it asks you to insert a table? Do Macros? Pivot Tables? Animate the Presentation?
You compose yourself, you gather your thoughts “What did you do when you were first plonked in front of a computer at school?”, oh yeah, you used to go through ‘File’. You click ‘Next Question?’.
“Change the heading to ‘Heading 2”, you’ve got this, you can do this, it’s easy, but wait! You need to think old school ways of navigating the programme, so you sit and think “what was the old school way of changing the heading setting? Was it always on the ribbon or was it once hidden in a drop down menu? How new is the ribbon? Have you always had these pre-set ideas of what a heading should look like or did you used to have to manually set them? And if you did use to have to manually set them, how did Microsoft decide that these were what the average user wanted? And if they did decide that, are you just a Microsoft lamb following what you’re told you need, rather than actually needing it?! WAIT! You’re off track and now probably look like you have no idea how to change the heading, these tests are timed, oh god! You select the heading option on the ribbon and the next question loads, was that a fluke you ponder?!
Eventually you realise that there is no proper way of doing these tests, as they are a pointless waste of time, created to prove that you can turn a computer on and open, save, edit a document. The sweaty palms and fear of the unknown is all a waste.
You ace the typing test until you reach the end, when you’re told that you type at the speed as an OAP with arthritis in their hands and only have an accuracy of 60%.
Onwards you press, you won’t let them get you down…the spelling test: Independent / Independant / Indapendent
Balls, does Independent have all ‘e’s in it or are there ‘a’s too?! Hang on, you were on the newspaper with the same name’s website earlier, how was it spelt? Bugger, it has an ‘a’, it definitely has an ‘a’, doesn’t it? You chew through the end of the pen you’ve been given, now you can’t give it back and will look like a thief, this is going from worse to worser, is that a word? What are words? Who decided what they were and how they were spelt? You know Shakespeare created a load of them “damn you Shakespeare” you cry, but does “Shakespeare” have that many ‘e’s and ‘a’s? FUCK! You resign to the fact that you’re going to look bloody stupid with all of these terrible results, you move to the grammar test and start circling everything…double spaces, indentations, the sign off at the end, the word in bold, you circle everything so much so that it look like a teacher assessing the work of a dumbass 5 year old, in your face child who can’t write or read.
Eventually, you meet with the agent and instantly start with your disclaimers “I totally blanked”, “I use shortcut keys”, “my dog ate my homework”, “Derek Drew did it Miss”. They laugh, they’ve heard it all before and couldn’t care less, they just want to make sure that your Mum didn’t apply for the job for you, writing your CV and cover letter. I’m not sure what is actually wrong with that, she may have helped, she’s good at the English malarkey and stuff.
You sit and have a casual chat, you’ve now lulled you into a social calm, you slouch, tell the truth, laugh and stop yourself from saying inappropriate witty one liners which your friends would crease up at. You decide that this person is the best person in the world, you almost want to invite them for a pint, you don’t but you feel such a connection. After all that, you head back off to work or head home. You realise you’re very tired, being the BEST you, is hard and knackering. You reward yourself with a pint and pyjamas.
Depending on the agency, depends on what happens to next:
The Agency who puts you forward for EVERY job, whether you’re experienced or not, whether the money is what you had hoped for, whether it is even in the right field.
The Agency who wants you to do the job for them, asking you to constantly check their website and let them know if you’re interested in a particular role.
The Agency who calls every day with various potential things that you never hear any more about said role.
The Agency who remembers you exist 3 months later when you’ve found a new role and let them know so.
Oh there are endless agencies and they all have their ways, some are great, some are terrible, some are fun to talk to, and some are bloody good at what they do. These are the agencies you hope to find, as you internet date your way through them all, applying for this job and that…hoping that you end up in a nice company with normal people and get paid reasonably well for it.