Be bold for change and help accelerate gender parity.
My thanks to our leader Rochelle for being here every week, whether the road is rocky or smooth we follow wherever she leads.
Thanks also to Amy Reese for the photo this week.
Word Count: 100
The First Step
I smile, accepting their mild applause. I’ve been out of my comfort zone in front of this class of restless fifth form girls, delivering a talk entitled – ‘Succeeding as a Woman in Business.’ Questions follow. Though I am enthusiastic, questioning their reasoning, hoping to provoke engagement, the poverty of aspiration astounds me.
Struggling to understand their attitude, I walk towards my car. Tamara, the quiet girl who said she wants to be a hairdresser, stops me.
‘My family’s been out of work for years. How can I be any different?’
I tell her she has just taken the first step.
I attended a local school, at the invitation of the Head of Business Studies, to speak to fifth firm girls about my story, how I got to where I am. The girls’ lack of aspiration that day still concerns me.
During the past few weeks I have spent a lot of my time interviewing candidates for a vacancy we had in our service department. When you cut away all the job description jargon, the job is basically one of providing the best in customer service.
The ability to write clearly, spell most common words and know what numbers are, is a distinct advantage in this and I would dare to suggest, in most other jobs.
On-site training is provided, so an ability to understand and assimilate spoken instructions is also essential.
In the past, to save time, we have used recruitment companies to help find us the ‘perfect candidate’. My experience of using this method has left me very cynical. Despite talks of ‘criteria’ and ‘job positioning,’ I find that inevitably I receive lots of CVs that bear no relation to the original ‘perfect candidate’ we first spoke about. It seems sometimes that the recruitment company’s idea of finding the right candidate is a bit like testing if spaghetti is cooked, if you throw enough of it at the wall, some is bound to stick!
A recent article in the local paper about the level of unemployment in the 17 – 24 age group pricked my social conscience and I placed an ad in the local job centre, giving a full description of the job and what was needed for a candidate to be successful. I was heartened and also saddened by the 145 replies I received via email.
I have often been criticised for being ‘too grammatically correct’ when writing an email – I tend to use capitals at the start of a sentence, proper words and spell them correctly and, horror of horrors, I break my message down into paragraphs to make is easier for the recipient to read.
This is an extract of one of the emailed CVs I received:
I’m writeing about the job you put in the job centre as I think I could do it. I am working as a carer at present but the moneys not much good and im a bit fed up and could do with a change.the only thing is the advert said I’d have to work some Saturdays and Friday night is mostly when I see my mates down the pub so I couldn’t do many Saturdays I hope that’s ok with you
There were a few that were really good, but too many were like the example above. They had no idea what a prospective employer was looking for. No grasp of how they should present themselves.
I asked about twenty people to attend interviews. Five just didn’t turn up or bother to get in touch; six were already receiving unemployment benefit and had no intention of working for me, just wanted me to sign their sheet to say they had turned up so their payment would continue. Surely this can’t be right?
Of the remaining nine, they all turned up on time and were reasonably well presented. I offered the job to a young man who I thought would work well with our team; he was young and bright and with training I thought he would do well. I arranged some training days for him and spent some time re-organising the service reception area, setting up another work station in time for his first day. He didn’t turn up for work. I rang his home to enquire if he was ill and his mother told me he had taken a job at a nearby Call Centre as ‘the money was a lot more than what you offered him.’
All this left me wondering just what happens these days when teenagers are getting ready to leave school. What sort of advice do they receive about the world of work? Do they really have any idea what will be expected of them? And, most important of all, do they get any advice or help from their parents and immediate family?
It’s all well and good government telling the private sector to buck up and take on more young people, whilst I fully expect to offer them training to do the job, I don’t expect to have to give them training in basic courtesy and common sense.