9/27/2008

Conundrum

I applied for a job today - application number four since I decided a few months ago that my current job was acutely draining my will to live. The first application did not even yield an interview. I was shortlisted for the second position, which was rather funny considering it was at a top 10 university and the first job was at a university ranked even lower than the one at which I currently work. I felt my presentation was strong, though the interview would have gone much better had one of the panel not been there. She was a trickster, asking all the right questions, difficult little fuckers that they were. After each one tripped me up, I wanted to nod my head at her slowly and say, "Well played pretty glasses lady, well played."

I didn't get that one either. I forget why. Something about focusing too much on marketing during the presentation and interview, despite the fact that the tone of the interview implied that I was to tell them more about that side of my job rather than the other business that forms the content of my job title. That's ok, I didn't really want to live in Bristol anyway. They all talk like farmers.

Job three was at my current institution, a position involving managerial responsibilities in another faculty, but still doing the same area of work. I was shortlisted, and the interview went blissfully. All exchanges were in a language only insiders would know, and I left the interview confident that the panel thought I was the finest candidate one could ever hope to encounter. I was pretty sure that they would have licked my face, so pleased were they with my abilities and confidence. Later that day, they called to say that much as they loved me and thought I was really hot, the job was not mine. They decided to go with another internal candidate, a woman whose managerial experience was as a result of her boss's part time work hours. My boss is a lumpen, worthless deskfrau who, unfortunately for me, chooses to carry out her incompetency full-time. This is my loss, and seems to be the reason I can't progress in my own institution.

Job four, the current one, is the same job title as job three, just in another faculty. I suspect the lack of managerial experience will again be my downfall, whether that presents itself in the shortlisting process, or in an interview if it comes to that. I am endlessly frustrated by this, as it was fully acknowledged by the bad news bearer in job three that in my current position there is no scope to increase managerial responsibilities. They want someone with a background like mine, but with managerial experience, something someone in my precise position is unlikely to have. Job three appointed the only person I can think of internally who would fit that requirement, so maybe I will get lucky this time around because I'm the best of a less-than-satisfactory bunch. I could be looked over in favour of an external candidate, but universities are very exclusionary when it comes to outsiders, so that may help.

I'm going over this here rather than just in my head, because I want advice. If it is widely acknowledged by the decision makers who are familiar with my position that I cannot gain this experience I am expected to have, what the fuck am I supposed to do? They wouldn't want me if I took a job outside my area just because it had managerial aspects, so I'm stuck, and too bad for me! It's especially frustrating because they are aware of the structure within my university, and know its limitations very well.

If the feedback was something simple - that I lacked confidence in the interview, that I needed more experience within my current position - fine, I can work with that. Those are issues which can be developed. Telling me I need managerial background in a place that doesn't offer that opportunity until I get the very job I'm applying for, how does that help? Everyone in management has started somewhere, so risks were taken for every member of management staff at some point. I know there are a lot of professional women reading, including those of you in management, so what do you suggest? It is driving me mad to be stifled in this way. I'm an ambitious person who WANTS more responsibility and challenges, so this whole situation makes me want to kick a puppy. Bastards. Help.

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Final warning - this is the last post before Reader Request Music Monday. I've had a few more since the previous post's petition, but I would love more. Seriously people, you don't need to pick stuff you think would be perceived as cool. I just want to know what you like for pete's sake. It ain't hard. You have just under 48 hours: barrenalbion at g mail dot com . I really can't make this any easier for you.

11 comments:

elizasmom said...

Oh, that bites. Those catch 22-type employment conundrums are so infuriating. I hope they do take a chance on you and see the idiocy of their ways r.e. applicant requirements. Good luck!

Thalia said...

It's tough. The only thing I can think of is to emphasise the other times you've had managerial experience - in a job you had earlier in your life? Even eg in a fast food place, or the way you managed your transatlantic move? The way you organised your friends in college to do a fund raiser or something?

I also don't get why it wouldn't make sense to get managerial experience outside your current role - even for six months or something? It's like getting an equity card - you can't get an equity job unless you have one, you can't have one unless you've had an acting job. So the answer is you take a non-equity job first and then try to argue your way in. Does the analogy work at all for you?

And I've told you before. Dar Williams.

Eggs Akimbo said...

The employment stuff is tough. I was doing a job that was fine, nice but not as challenging as I'd liked and I wasn't motivated. Then the universe conspired and an oppirtunity landed in my lap, which has honestly worked out perfectly, Three days, closer to hpme, good organisation and plenty of scope when and if I want to ramp my career up. Honestly, this was none of my doing! Awesome!

Re the music request...I've Found Someone by Cher...naff as I know but I just love Cher as a singer and actress!

Vacant Uterus said...

I am useless when it comes to job advice, never having held a really professional job until just before Sam came along and then promptly quitting once he was actually here. But I join you in your angry sentiments because yeah, that would make me want to kick something too. Damn the patriarchy.

I read Music Monday in order to find out what to listen to. I am a music dunce. I need the education. Therefore, I have no suggestions. Lead me, oh great one!

PiquantMolly said...

Conundrum indeed. I'm in the job hunting race as well and I actually have kicked some puppies. OK, no.

Lut C. said...

Managing to work and do ART, doesn't that count? Though revealing the whole ART game is a high price.

I'll have some B52's please, and not one of the most obvious choices. 'Planet Claire' is a good one.

nutsinmay said...

Keep applying. Some one will have a rush of blood to the head and briefly show common sense in Academia one day soon.

I'd advise, at interview, making a point of the whole 'need the role to get the experience to do the role am otherwise stuck forever' thing. Not whinily. Just enough to make them think just how exceedingly motivated you are.

And condolences, because it sucketh the almighty suckage.

Will email you re: Music Monday. I have been thinking thereon. Aren't I good.

hairyfarmerfamily said...

Aarrrghhh. That is truly frustrating. I'm with Thalia: perhaps emphasise other episodes which higlight your management experience. If you get a job in another town, how will that affect P & The Dude?
Bristol is supposedly not the best town going, these days. And yes, they do speak a bit yokel down there.
Unlike us, of course.
Cough.

Betty M said...

I am in a similar dilemna getting promoted at work(as a civil servant going up a grade is a big deal). My jobshare and I have to big up every last thing we have done outside work to give some semblance of adequate managerial experience. Still no promotion yet though - bastards.

Korechronicles said...

Trying to cover this topic in a short comment is beyond me. I have experience in HR and management so if you would like me to expand further in an email, I'm more than happy to help. Problem is, as I see it (and warning here, it's from a great geographical and cultural distance), is the "special" environment of academia. which can be a law unto itself and with an unfounded and all consuming fear of making a mistake the interview panels are prevented from seeing the candidate's potential to absolutely do the job. Mightily sucky for you, I know.

Tash said...

I was going to recommend what Thalia suggested: turn something, ANYTHING that you do into something remotely "managerial." Have you ever explained anything to anyone at your job? Had to teach someone something? Done anything (politics, campus groups) where you kinda organized and someone reported to you? And I'd turn that into a loose few sentences. And like someone else said, keep applying.

I think a lot of these academic spots (well, at least here) are posted and interviews run even though they have a candidate in mind but need to go through the motions as per the law. And so in order to justify to you and powers higher up that person A was really who they wanted and not you, who was supremely qualified, they sometimes just go through the vita and figure out where that person surpassed you so they can put it in the record justifiably. So if person A managed the staple closet, they may point to that.

This whole conversation is really giving me the willies about trying to ramp up my vita. Blech.