Thursday, 1 December 2011

Employment Tips

Because I am a lazy person, I am still signed up to receive assorted useless job opportunity updates registered in 2008.

It would make sense if they ever sent me stuff I could do, but they tend to disregard my knowledge and experience. “Why not manage a shoe shop in Livingston for minimum wage?” they suggest, “or apply to be Communications Manager at an enormous finance company in Leeds?”

“Because I am not qualified to do either,” I respond. “Also I have been in steady employment since January 2009 and should have unsubscribed from these alerts ages ago. Delete, delete, delete.”

I receive these emails because I once ticked some boxes confessing to retail experience and an interest in communications. This does not make me manager material, as I’m sure a summary googling of the job description would testify. Still, it’s nice to be asked.

Having said that, Totaljobs have evidently got wise to the “get lost, I couldn’t go for that even if I wanted to” response, because this week they sent me an email urging me to complete a managerial qualification at the University of Liverpool.

They were always prone to sending me messages suggesting I consider improving myself, preferably through distance learning (they aren’t to know about my aborted attempt to do that CTJT course last year). But the courses they suggest are always totally inappropriate for my existing skillset (writing, journalism, drawing) and career aspirations (writer, journalist… drawer).

I’ve taken umbrage at the latest in the series for a couple of reasons. One is that I haven’t taken umbrage for a while and this seemed as good a time as any. Another was the content of the subject line: “Alison, stay ahead with a quality online degree.”

Quite apart from the fact they’ve apparently got Lee Nelson in to do their marketing, this sentence seems to imply my existing degree is somehow not of sufficient quality because I didn’t get it online. What kind of backwards technophobe gets a degree by reading musty old books for four years?! I’ll probably never get a job, and serve me right.

The other way to read it is that they know some people think an online degree isn’t as good as one obtained by attending actual classes and secretly they agree, so are trying to fool me into thinking this particular course is the exception to prove the rule. Don’t get one of those crappy online degrees you sometimes hear about, have this proper good one.

The other thing that grates here is that having a degree, online or print, is unlikely to put you significantly ahead in a world with bugger all job opportunities. A management qualification might help if I had even a passing interest in managing other people, but I suspect my lack of experience would show me up. Furthermore, given my main aim in life is to subsist as a freelance creative type, it feels like a strange way to channel my energy and time.

Then there’s the fact I already have a quality degree (2:1 MA Hons from St Andrews, thanks) deliberately chosen to help me get ahead. I’ve lost count of the number of journalists who advise wannabe hacks going to university to study a subject and work on the student press rather than going for a journo-specific course, which is exactly what I did.

In social terms this was fantastic, but in career terms all it’s done is get me rejected for some things on grounds of over qualification (although to be fair I get rejected from journalism jobs because there are only about three in Scotland at any given time, with hundreds of applicants).

The moral of this story is that I should unsubscribe, but if I do that the blog will be bereft of updates like this…

I’ll probably soldier on.

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