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It's got a bit dusty around here.. must be something to do with me not being around for a month or so. I wish it were because I had decided to sod off east again, but alas no. I have, for the majority of 2009 thus far, been a 'filthy jobless giro cashing layabout'. However, not so any more, as today I was given that most welcome of news, a job offer. In a nutshell, it's the sort of stuff I want to do, for a decent whack, and not too far away. It's just about as perfect as I could expect given the current economic situation. I consider myself extremely fortunate and not just a little relieved.

I have done some celebrations, such as shouting through the telephone at the poor guy at the other end, jumping about wildly, and spending much of the rest of the day with a big stupid grin on my chops, to the point where my cheek muscles ached. There is also a much-promised curry night in the offing with Ms. Plants, a restriction placed and not lifted until employment successfully regained. Cracking.

So, how was it that this dusty site had not much in the way of updates during all this time? As a vagrant, surely there should be daily updates, ranging from the usual religious bashing and oriental waffle to what my current toilet habits are. Surprisingly, unemployment in a bad economy does that to you, and anyone who thinks otherwise should listen to my story.

The last time I was unemployed was in 2004, and after securing a job at a large multinational (we will call it AccentCorp for the sake of argument) that was about as impersonal, depressing and incompetent a place to work as you could get, I spent a couple of weeks back on the job boards and almost immediately got a handful of interviews, one of which resulted in the far more satisfying employment I enjoyed until recently, when things went a bit wrong and redundancy loomed. Life was much less stressful in 2004, a guy with a good CV had every expectation in a sellers market to be back on the wages run before even a shallow dent was made in the bank account.

Not so now. In the past 6 or so months (I started looking some months before the end because I could see it approaching like an express train with a P45 stuck to the front of it) I have sent out maybe 150 applications, and from that perhaps a dozen first stage interviews have come my way, and of them, only 3 turned into second stage interviews. Every day has been a mixture of waking early, trawling newspapers, job boards, and recruitment agencies for scant pickings, and then the excruciation of selling my increasingly worthless marketable skills before they leak out of my ear, in such a manner so it sounds individual and not cut/pasted, with not a word out of place.

To bring down the morale still further - if you don't have 100% of the skills they list in both the essential and desirable parts of the job spec - forget it. With the market weighed greatly in favour of the employer - there are so many people out there looking - they can afford to hold off a while longer if candidates A to E have 95% of the skills and a willing look on their faces - until someone who is a perfect 100% skills fit (as well as having other desired skills they happen to have on their CV that the employer forgot to mention) comes along - and it won't be long before one does. This not only seriously cuts out a load of potential jobs, but you are also faced with being stuck in a career path that cannot deviate from a narrow skill set, even if you want it to.

And don't get me started about delay tactics. If a company wants to fill a vacancy, they will usually prefer to get an internal candidate to move over from another division - but they are supposed to also offer it to the outside markets; so you end up with certain vacancies, innocently looking like any of the others that you will never get a job for. A first round of interviews, followed by a lot of stalling and ringing around, and climaxing with an impersonal email a month later saying 'sorry, an internal candidate just happened to appear out of thin air and we gave it to them and then forgot to tell you.'

Got a mortgage? That's a massive drain on your dwindling bank account isn't it? Never mind, if you had the presence of mind to take out protection insurance, you're covered aren't you? No worries there? 'fraid not. *if* you have the insurance, the insurers will stall and bicker and send incomprehensible forms out to you, stretching out the time taken to pay you anything for months on end, and infuriatingly, this involves a letter every couple of weeks asking you to fill in another form because the previous one didn't request a particular piece of information that they really really needed. My protection insurance took 3 months to sort out, with the ever looming menace of a rejection if I so much as ticked a box instead of crossing it. And the first month isn't payable. I don't quite understand why, but I think its something to do with them being bastards.

Even when that magical phone call does come, it's not over yet. You have to then cancel your hard-won benefits and insurance payouts, untangle yourself from a thousand job websites, sever ties with a few dozen agency reps, and be prepared for your new boss to evil eye you as yet again you get a job ad from the one agency guy you forgot to include on the notification list.

So, that is why this blog is looking a bit dusty of late - it was just too depressing to write about while it was going on - and 'it' was just about wholly consuming my existence. I will give the place a spring clean soon, as I return to the warm predictability of a 9-5 mon-fri drain on my remaining life expectancy. If you are currently in a job, and harbour any malice towards the great unemployed masses forming increasingly long dole queues and living merrily off the state, or thinking that life without a job is as good as a protracted holiday, let me tell you now, that it is not. I would not inflict the last six months of stress, worry and accelerated ageing on my worst enemy. If you get even an inkling about being made redundant, get job searching as soon as you can, and better still, use whatever means at your disposal - money, sex or power, to stay working at your spot, regardless of how bad it is. At least until the recession is through.

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