- Withdrew £60 from cash machine. Paid phone bill. Remain in the game for another month.
- Went to @work recruitment. Spent about half an hour filling in lousy intranet form, which only lets you specify six types of jobs of interest (part of the problem, maybe?) and five qualifications (in practice, my degree and four A-levels). Found that their system wasn't very happy with it for no good reason and the advisor there couldn't sort it out. However, this did mean that the advisor took a look at my CV and had a reasonable chat. She has also referred it "upstairs" to "Talent Recruitment", which does deal with permanent positions and where apparently I am rather better suited. Note to self: must get the contact details of this Talent Recruitment, because @work didn't pass them on.
- Went to the Cleveland Trade Union & Unemployed Workers Resource Centre. Was amused to see that you can only get in by going through Comrades Café Bar. (The building also hosts the local branch of the Trades Union Congress and so is covered with overtly, heavily left-wing political material. No value judgement.) The administrator there was an absolute sweetheart. Printed out one copy of my CV perfectly. Set the printer to print out another nineteen. It managed one page of the second before jamming nastily on page two of copy one. Managed to unjam a printer I had never seen before fairly easily, which was a confidence-booster. Unfortunately it then spewed through the rest of the paper in the machine printing one line of rubbish on each sheet. (Yes, I did kill the job straight away. It didn't help.) The administrator was very kind ("we can always give the ruined paper to the kids' group upstairs for scribbling on") and printed out a copy on her printer. (Hm - maybe to make sure that I didn't waste any more paper?) She did charge me for ten copies of it, though, albeit not much (10 copies * 2 pages/copy * 4p/page = 80p). Would have been nicer to get 20 freshly-printed copies, but not to be. Stupid Windows.
- Went to Independent Employment Services. They're mostly a drivers' recruitment agency, but took a CV anyway and will keep me on file.
- Went to Nutech Staff Consultants, who were probably the nicest bunch all day. Filled in a form. The lady who saw me was extremely pleasant and rather apologetic about only generally being able to offer things like data entry. She said there was a market research position available, but it involved outward cold-calling from a script. Not my cup of tea, so she didn't mind me not being interested. Apparently they had had people try it in the past and quit after one hour, so no point in my going ahead with it.
- Arrived five minutes early to First Choice Recruitment, who wanted me to fill in a P45 form and a payment clearance details form already. Good marks for efficiency, but lose marks for being mostly driver-focused. They also seemed unduly keen on me ringing them on their 24-hour line every day I wouldn't be available or if I found work elsewhere, which I guess is just overenthusiasm.
- Went past a building with a confusing graphic on the front where I wasn't sure whether it was a recruitment agency or not. Called in, found out it wasn't, submitted a CV on the off-chance that they had any general admin jobs going anyhow, which the receptionist seemed to appreciate.
- Called in at GetIT, a training, advice and consultancy place. (It shares an office with the local Tourist Information Centre, so I was shuttled from desk to desk.) Have made an appointment with Ms. Gillian Fawcett at 1:30pm next Tuesday, more to discuss the gulf between my level of academic qualifications, my level of experience and my level of formally recognised IT qualifications.
- Called in at Manpower where I had dropped my CV off nine days ago. They claimed that they had a big pile of CVs, so got me to fill in a standard form for them about my skills and my jobs, where I didn't have a lot of the details (phone numbers, postcodes, etc.) to hand. They also claimed that they would call me when they had something and arrange a possible interview, though they seemed to be giving some other people interviews and tests of various sorts (typing speed, drug-freedom) straight away. I have a theory that Manpower are rather less accommodating to those who are using their services proactively than they are to those who have been referred to them by some other body who will pay a considerable bounty if they manage to find a job.
- Went and got a sandwich from Hungry Jack's. Managed not to spill chicken tikka sauce over my nice sauce, which was a bonus; ate sitting on a park bench while watching birds peck at a lump of chewing gum, which was disgusting enough to get me to move fairly sharply.
- Called in at Working Links, who seem to be a council-sponsored organisation helping people to get back into work. You need to live in certain parts of town and come into a certain list of categories (unemployed for 12+ months, lack of basic skills, past offender, health problems etc.) and it took a little bit of jiggery-pokery for me to qualify on both counts. However, I have a feeling that they have slightly more resources than they know what to do with and are keen to help as many people as they can, so they have fixed up an appointment for 3pm on Monday. It may also have helped that I called down on a day when there were only about three people in a very large office and everyone had been let off early down to the pub.
- Went to Hays Montrose Recruitment on the same floor of the same building. They shuttled me two floors downstairs to Hays Recruitment who deal with their admin/clerical/secretarial side. Hays Recruitment then claimed that I didn't really have the experience they were looking for (I made a little bit of a nuisance of myself on this front) and have shuttled me off to contacting Hays IT, whose most local branch is in Leeds. If Hays IT shuttle me off to Hays Falling Between The Gaps then I shall not be happy.
- Called in at Adecco where I had dropped my CV off nine days ago. Nothin'. They'll call me. No extra forms to fill in or anything.
- Called in at Randstad, dropped a CV off. They're mostly an industrial place, but they seemed to be happier to consider me when I pointed out that I had worked for British Steel for a year before university. Not expecting much from them, but they were at least quite polite about it.
- Called in at Options. Virtually a carbon copy of Randstad.
- Called in at Select, dropped a CV off. They tend to deal with secretarial, admin and clerical things. The woman there seemed happy enough to talk to me, but wasn't very keen on smiling. They claimed to have no jobs available, which was rather contrary to all the jobs they were advertising in their front window. Perhaps they had all gone earlier that day. (Seriously. They were offering a crash, no-notice "two days of counting traffic" position, but it had started a few hours previously and so I was obviously just too late in the day.)
- Called in at Prime Time Recruitment. See Randstad three above. However, they did recommend T.A.B.S. of Stockton, which puts T.A.B.S. top of the "recommended by other recruiters" league at a whopping two nominations. That's pretty good, though. Prime Time also pointed me to...
- Called in at Meridian Recruitment, as recommended by Prime Time, who do secretarial, admin etc. things and who seemed quite happy to take my CV. (Slightly worryingly, though, there were two people sitting there and filling in forms, though they didn't want me to fill in a form. Do these people just not have CVs?) Apparently January was very busy but February has been quiet.
- Called in at JobCentrePlus, discussed my position and whether I was eligible for Jobseekers' Allowance. They have given me rather a fat wad of forms to fill in, most of which they say they don't really understand themselves; self-employed people possibly closing their business to look for full-time work and claim Jobseeker's Allowance is supposedly very rare. They also want me to bring in Articles of Association, two years of business accounts, business bank statements and so forth - plus it must all be printed out rather than on disc. That could be a laugh. I have an appointment for 3:45pm on Wednesday, but maybe I'll have found temp work by then and so have an excuse not to go.
- Walked home, with fairly black thoughts, mostly about Working Links. Unhelpfully, the weather had finally become fairly overcast after what had been quite a pleasant early spring day. Forgot to call in at the University of Teesside Careers Services en route, but they would have been shut by then anyhow.
So, er, eleven recruitment agencies visited and three appointments for further discussion fixed up. All groundwork, indeed, but a decent amount of it. The next step is to actually submit my CV to online jobs-matching services, recruitment agencies and so forth, which I haven't yet done. This is also something that can be done in evenings and at weekends, so if I can get (say) ten done by Monday then I'll really be making progress. Have to confess that I'm fairly unimpressed with most of the recruitment agencies, and the agencies:jobs ratio seems to be nowhere near what you'd like. (Should we expect some, shall we say, rationalisation in the local agency sector soon?) Still no actual job applications written and no clearer idea about what jobs I'm actually going to apply for, but all steps in the right direction.
Have to confess that my point #5 last night about "is anyone off to see Chicago this weekend?" was mostly an affectionate tease (also see more about jet set zorac - have fun, you two!) but thanks for the recommendations all the same. In fact, the family have hired Ocean's Eleven which we'll watch later. Actually, I watched about a minute of it last night and overnight had an ace dream in which people were trying to pull off some sort of high-rise heist and did a really fantastic falling-long-distances stunt. (One of the characters looked like George Mason from 24.) Then the opening credits of the film, called "tyco" (maybe an abbreviation?) rolled at immense, clearly parody-speed, velocity. It was fab. Roll on the dream recorder!
London folks: irinaauthor and tabithajones are coming to visit the Big Smoke early next month. Any recommendations for "can't miss" restaurants? I've been to London twenty or thirty times and don't have any!