Sunday, 12 September 2010

Back to the land of the employed

Finally, I have a job!!! I've been back in the UK for just over two months, and I just realised that this is the longest I've gone without working since I was 18.

When I first returned, I had no reason to look for a job. I was only meant to be back for a few weeks to sort out the flat, and then head back to Madrid. But that was not to be, as most of you already know. So having made the decision to stay in the UK until the end of the year, I had to face the fact that money really doesn't grow on trees and I'd actually have to earn some!

The obvious answer, as many people said, would have been to cut short my career break and go back to Gatwick for a few months. However, there were a few issues with that idea:

1) If I'd gone back until December and then tried to recommence my career break, I'm quite sure they'd have said no and I'd have had to resign there and then.

2) Having been away for over a year, it's very unlikely that I'd have been able to go back to my previous office, leaving the possibility that I'd have to go back to the main airport terminal, doing the frontline job that I've not done since 2002. I'd be facing refresher training and then the prospect of working at an office which I already know has zero staff satisfaction and with a small number of people I swore I would never work with (again).

3) Transport - when I had a car, getting to and from Gatwick was easy. On public transport, I'd be faced with heading out of the flat some days around 5.45am for the walk to the station, then the delights of the train trip to the airport to be ready to start by 7am.

4) The bottom line - it would be a backward step. When I walked out of that office in February 2009, I was determined I would never go back. Realising I'd been in the Civil Service for just under 20 years was what made me go to Spain in the first place. The only reason I'm on a career break is just in case one day I get so utterly, seriously desperate for a job that I might actually bring myself to go back, briefly or otherwise. That day most certainly has not come, nor do I want it to.

So - job-hunting began in earnest at the end of July when I decided for sure I was staying put for a few months. Having never really done anything apart from the Civil Service (before the English teaching, of course) I really didn't know what on earth to look for, let alone what I was good at. I've never had to write a CV before so that was a learning curve (thanks go to Ange for her advice). I was quite sure that immigration had given me no transferable skills whatsoever, unless I wanted to go into another law-enforcement type job. However, the more I thought about it, and as various people pointed out, I'd basically spent 20 years doing a variety of administrative and customer service roles, and had at least had the chance to show I was fairly flexible (not bendy!) and up for a challenge with some of the things that job entailed.

I had a CV, now I needed a job to apply for. I'd registered with every temp agency I could think of and given a fairly wide list of criteria, yet three weeks later, I'd heard from none of them! I know there's a recession but I couldn't believe that not a single one of them had found one job that suited my stated preferences. In the last week, one of them has started to send me emails listing jobs I "may" be interested in. Bear in mind that what I asked them to look out for were jobs in secretarial/admin/typing/data entry/filing within 3 miles of Brighton. An email from them last week offered me: Weighbridge Operator, Small Dole; Quantity Surveyor, Guildford; Finnish speaking salesperson, Edinburgh! Call me fussy, but what on earth made them think I would/could do any of those?!

Next ports of call were the Friday-Ad, Evening Argus and Gumtree websites (yes, the one where I found the slightly bizarre naked admin assistant job!) There's a bewildering array of jobs out there, it appears, several of which I fired off my CV to, without getting so much as an acknowledgement, let alone an interview. Then finally, I heard back from one - a telephone market research job (no sales, which was very important to me). Last Tuesday, I had a face-to-face interview and had to do a 10-minute test call (which admittedly seemed to only prove that I could read from a pre-prepared script on screen and click the mouse a few times!), then the next morning they called to offer me the job.

No, it's not the most exciting job in the world, nor the best paid but it's a job, it's pretty flexible (choose your own shifts each week, and no weekday shift starts before 2pm!) and they offer temporary, short-term or long-term contracts. Training starts on Wednesday for two days, then work proper next week. My bank manager will be delighted!