Job seeking…..

Six months ago I signed on the dole. Or Job Seekers Allowance as our politically correct Govt call it.

Job Centre Plus logo

Job Centre Plus logo

Little do they know, when you turn up at the Job Centre (JC) waving the little magic form they’ve given you that allows you access to the desks beyond the “reception desk”, the maitre d asks if you’ve come to “sign on”. That toff, Iain Duncan Smith (IDS)  should visit a Job Centre once in a while; unannounced obvs, and see what it’s really like. Not all Job Centre’s (well mine is a Job Centre Plus, whatever that is) smell of fresh paint and have bunting.

Tomorrow is my last signing on day and thereafter I’m on my own. I’m entitled to nothing. Nada. Niet. Nuffink. Not a sausage. Well I can go and get a sausage, but I will get no money toward it. I have to pay for my own sausage.

After six months the £70 per week job seekers allowance is stopped and it then becomes means tested. Seeing as I have in excess of £25 million in the bank, then I don’t suppose I’ll qualify for any further help. But that can’t be right can it?

I’ll have to ask my mate IDS the next time I see him on the golf course.  Just before I let the people who really do need the Govt’s support, the chance to bludgeon him; with his own golf clubs natch.

Note; I don’t have £25 million in the bank. And I don’t belong to a golf club. And I’ve never met IDS, but if i do he’ll be sporting the verbal equivalent of a nine iron.

IDS and JC are interchangable.

Recruitment and estate agents & used car salesmen……

There is very little difference between all three……

So; job hunting. How’s it going Phil?

Alright actually.

Except when it comes to dealing with recruitment consultants. Obviously.

During the past few months, and because of my circumstances, I’ve had to deal with recruitment consultants, used car salesmen and estate agents; and my girlfriend has also had to deal with solicitors. So, between us, we’ve had to run the gamut that is the world’s least regarded “professional” careers.


They all spout crap about undertaking their business to meet their clients interests, but there is only one interest as far as they’re concerned; making money – for themselves. At anyone’s expense.

If they think you can turn a few quid in for them, then they’re so far up your arse it’s uncomfortable. Once they realise there’s nothing in it for themselves, they’re like ex partners with a dose; long gone and nowhere to be seen.

Now. I don’t rely on recruitment consultants to find me my next job. If i did, I’ll be looking for work for many years to come. I don’t rely on that phone call or email from the latest pimp to come a-knocking at my door. I work it. I use them and they use me. But I don’t allow them to use me more than I feel comfortable with.

At the end of the day they do their stuff and it works like this.

  1. they see my details on Linked In or a job noticeboard
  2. they contact me – gushing with praise and state what a great bloke I am and how my CV is the best they’ve ever seen……..yadda yadda………
  3. we chat – they put me forward for a job. I only allow them to do so if I’m actually interested in the gig. Which is where myself and recruitment consultants differ. Enormously.
  4. now this is where things deviate;
    1. I get an interview – they’re all over me, until the conclusion – they either get the fee, or they disregard me for ever – the result is the same whatever the outcome
    2. I don’t get an interview and all of a sudden my calls and emails go unanswered. I’m no longer of interest to them. What a surprise.
  5. The process starts again with another pimp.

steve mcqueen

We dance around each other……..

Check me out on LinkedIn; - I’m cool. Like Steve McQueen……………..

Job seeking

Looking for work

Looking for work

A couple of weeks ago, I did something I’ve never done before. I registered for Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) online and then presented myself at my nearest Job Centre Plus for an interview and to sign the many forms that today’s Government demands.

The process for applying, and subsequently receiving, JSA, was pretty straightforward, but fraught with anomalies. Like having to do it online, having a mobile phone to receive texts, and needing to ring an 0845 premium phone number, if you have queries. Not exactly the best way to spend the £71 per week some job seekers, including myself, receive, My personal circumstances, like others, mean I receive no additional benefits, so living on 70 quid a week, is virtually impossible.

The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) want to see their “clients” (their description, not mine) back in work as quickly as possible, so they provide a number of support resources to facilitate this, whilst also ensuring they check that their clients are doing what they said they will. That’s fair enough, but when it means three separate visits to the same Job Centre, incurring unnecessary travel expenses, the already inadequate and stretched allowance has already been busted.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to have been able to plan financially in advance for a period out of work, so I can get to where I need to be without having to worry about how to pay for the bus, but not everyone is as fortunate as myself.

Tomorrow, I shall venture down to the Job Centre to sign on, and prove that I’m available for and have been actively seeking work. Which I have been, and a number of applications are currently being processed by various organisations. To this end I will show my advisor the diary I’ve kept detailing my job seeking activities. You may be interested to learn that the Govt only expects job seekers to undertake a total of three job seeking activities per week. Three? Per week? WTF? It will be interesting to see what my advisor makes of my long list of activities and applications I’ve noted on their (crappy, photo copied hundreds of times) form.

Someone asked me the other day, why I’d registered for JSA, and for a variety of reasons, I did resist doing so for a while. And when I’ve previously been between jobs I didn’t venture online to register, as I didn’t even think to do so. But when it was pointed out to me that my NI stamp wasn’t being paid during those times (which were merely a matter of a couple of weeks), I was advised that I should register. I wouldn’t want anything to affect the massive pension the Govt will give me when I reach retirement age.

I’m not relying on the Job Centre to find me a job. Why would I? I’ve been perfectly capable of finding my own way in the world of work for the past 35 years, so why should that change now?

So back to those job websites I go………

Features vs functionality.

Features vs functionality

Features vs functionality.

One of the best tweets I’ve seen recently about web usability is simple and direct.

Like most things the simplest approach is usually the most effective. Tristan gets his message across in less than 140 characters and after reading it, we instantly get what he means. No further words are needed. That’s what Twitter has done really well, as has Tristan.

This rule can, and should be, applied to all websites if they’re to be used as intended; both internally and externally.

I have nothing to add. Do you?

What is an expert?

relax I'm an expert

Wikipedia states that an “expert”  is “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain.”

It goes on to say an expert is….

…. more generally, a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. An expert can be, by virtue of credentialtrainingeducation,

professionpublication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual’s opinion.

Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage (Sophos). The individual was usually a profound thinker distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.

I’ve spoken at many conferences and seminars about the intranet industry and what works and what doesn’t work, based on my personal and professional experiences. Does this make me an expert? That’s not for me to judge; that’s for the audience to determine.

There are many “experts” who tout their services within the intranet/digital workplace industry, who basically expound their views of how things should be done, based on their previous dealings with a variety of companies, and the supposed lessons learnt along the way.

There are also many companies who bring together like minded people to discuss how things should be (usually for a large fee), and provide “keynote speakers” (I dislike that phrase) to share their views and experiences, and based on whatever success these individuals have had, they are then deemed to be the “experts”. The paying audience are usually looking for an answer to their problems, and see the expert as the panacea to providing it.

An alternative approach would be to use the large network of contacts we all have access to and discuss our common problems. We may work in different industries, but our intranet issues and challenges are largely the same, dependent where we are on our journeys.

In my view an expert is merely someone who has an opinion, backed up by the relevant knowledge and who has earned the respect of their peers to share it in a considered way. It maybe right or it maybe wrong, but we all have an opinion, so surely that makes us all experts?

The difference between having a knowledgeable opinion and being an expert is therefore negligible surely?


So next time you’re looking for some advice, guidance,  the answer to a problem, or just want to bounce some ideas around, discuss it with your network. Not only will they be happy to help you, they will also probably get something out of the discussion too. And then you can both become “experts”.