Give us a job

I have been sifting through CVs and application letters. Many of the applicants have come from the 20 something generation. Many of these young people have never held a full time job paying a sensible rate of pay. They have moved from temporary post to Job experience, from volunteer to Intern. They have found the job market of the last couple of years hostile. It is one of the tragedies of the Credit Crunch and the boom bust policies of the last decade that many of them are now languishing without a sound start to their working careers.

Many of the ones I have been reading about have degrees. They send in CVs which start with similar paragraphs that they have been taught to write. They usually claim to be excellent at team working, brilliant communicators,and to offer good leadership. They are all highly motivated, enthusiastic, pro-active with strong organisational and problem solving skills. The rest of the CV sometimes belies the standard phrases of the opening. Some are unable to write a sentence. There are usually spelling and typing errors – understandable in the rush of everyday communication but glaring in a considered and formal document like a CV. One example produced the following second sentence to the application: ” I fill the experience I have gained in past employment will put me in good persian for this role” . Often through no fault of their own a person who sounds as if they should at the very least be a senior executive has never held a more senior position than that of Intern or helper in the local cafe.

Probably because they send out so many applications, many fail to adapt their CV and application email to the post concerned. They do not think themselves into the job. They are usually still living at home with their parents, and will have trouble finding affordable accommodation for jobs in central London. Too many rejections can make them both fatalistic and very willing to adjust to what the potential employer wants. A few years ago anyone seeking work with an MP wanted to be the researcher/speech writer/Chief of Staff. Now more understand that dealing with the follow up to case work, pursuing the dialogue of the deaf with quangoland and helping with the endless demands of the new regulatory culture can be more useful for the MP who knows his own mind.

The current jobs market is not healthy. The way young people are trained to present themselves does not always help them. Too many of them present the tutor’s package, rather than telling prospective employers who they are, what they are good at and what they want to do.

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72 Comments

  1. FatBigot
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    There seem to be two issues here.

    One is the low level of literacy displayed by some applicants. Whatever the reason for functional illiteracy, if the job requires someone to know the difference between "their", "there" and "they're", an applicant who does not appear to know the difference is disqualified.

    The other is the concept that you have to say certain things in a job application whether or not you believe them and whether or not they are relevant to the position for which you have applied.

    Every Miss World contestant in the 1970s (perhaps since then but I only watched it in my younger days) wanted to work with children and animals and hoped to be able to contribute to world peace. It was what they were told they should say.

    These days youngsters are told they should say their aim is to further equality and diversity. It's as meaningless as a bikini-clad beauty pageant contestant hugging a panda while defusing a nuclear bomb and stirring a pot of organic vegan baby food.

    Sadly, employers can only go by what they receive. An illiterate CV suggests an illiterate candidate. A CV full of waffly stock-phrases suggests someone who is going with the flow – and has been told the "official" flow. It says nothing about the applicant. The individual CV in which platitudes and waffle are absent shows the real character of an applicant. It might appeal, it might not but it should always receive credit for being honest.

  2. Thatcher-right
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Have you considered the possibility that the CVs are tailored their CV's to avoid finding a job? To carry on receiving the dole you have to provide evidence that you are looking for a work. A couple of strategic typos can help to avoid the risk of a dangerous job interview.

    • StevenL
      Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand, I can't help imagining all those twenty-somethings down Jobcentre Plus claiming they want to become MP's.

      Where else can you get a nice salary, mortgage interest paid for, travel expenses and enough staffing expenses to get someone else to do your job for you while you moonlight in the world of media or business?

      Not to mention a decent defined benefit pension and severance package.

  3. JimF
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The problem is that in the race for jobs, the person without a degree, relevant internship, and some supposed high-level "decision making" experience doesn't imagine you will look at their CV.
    It's called "bigging up", but actually it is more a case of "letting down" your interviewer should you get that far. 20-somethings are told to "big themselves up". Call me cynical, but I think this is connected with the educational establishment's inflated grade system of the past couple of decades. After all, what is the point of inflating exam grades on your CV if you can't also inflate your whole life experience? Whilst there's nothing wrong with playing to one's strengths, whatever these are, they are somewhat undermined by poor grammar and spelling.
    As you say, what is required is a straightforward description in plain English of who you are, what you've done and what you want to do.

  4. Acorn
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Do all yours turn up with an upper second honours degree? I expect the finance industry creams off all the firsts. I am advised by an informed source that "… a lower second is what you used to call a non-honours pass, in your day". (Cheeky b*****d).

    The good news for job seekers might be that net VAT registrations have gone positive in the last couple of months. See:-
    https://www.uktradeinfo.co.uk/index.cfm?task=bull

  5. Jonathan Tee
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I agree that the tutorials for job applications that you receive at school and university are not great (don't even mention the careers advice). I used to write a C.V. very much like that, hopefully without the spelling mistakes, up until a recruitment consultant told me how poor it was (very brutally but I am indebted to him).

    The problem is training – unless you are recruiting yourself its not easy to know what sort of C.V. is going to increase your chance of securing an interview.

    I get the impression, perhaps unfairly, that the people doing the tutorials for job applications and interviews at school and university are not the people doing the recruiting for those institutions. Employers would be better teachers but there are not very many employers who are going to teach these skills to employees (why make your employee easier to poach?).

  6. Woodsy42
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    But if they want the job what skills should they actually offer? What has politics been for them and what they have experienced of politics since they left junior school? Should they proclaim: 'Experience at gaming expenses claims', 'abilty to misdirect the press', 'ability to lie and follow the party line'? Maybe they have tailored their applications, and you should consider it a compliment and recognition of your integrity to note what's been missed out. Or you could just accept the CVs are probably all copied from a template on the Web.

  7. English Pensioner
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I think that in the coming years our youngsters will have major problems competing for jobs against better educated Europeans.
    I was amazed recently when I went to Bulgaria for a holiday at the educational standard of the young student who acted as our guide. She was studying Tourism at university and spoke three languages (English, German and French) in addition to her own. She was learning Spanish. Her English vocabulary, I suspect, was far wider than many school leavers in this country. As part of the degree, she had to learn about the history and geography of the Balkans and also the countries from which tourists were likely to come! She was also studying accounts.
    How many British youngsters at University have thes sort of abilities? I wonder what the so-called tourist degrees in the UK comprise. I think we are in for a tough time if we don't start doing something, very quickly, to get our standards up to those of our European competitors

  8. Ex Liverpool Rioter
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    John
    Am sorry to burst in but frankly something much more important has come to my attension:-
    ( offers link to news about BP which I could nto get to work)

    I read Matt Simmons book & i think the man knows his bussiness…..in short the BP rig blowout could (do substantial damage to BP-ed)!

    He talks about a pume of thick "Black" oil 400-500 foot thick & over mile wide. If it makes it to or near surface & a Hurracaine blows up it (could damage the coast a lot-ed)
    …………Oh it also seems BP did NOT bother getting insurance cover for this project!

    (This could be dear even for BP, an important source of UK dividend and tax income – ed).

    John, I start to worry MATE!

    Mike

    • Gareth
      Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      The way this is being reported you would think they are describing a black mass of oil lurking under the sea but according to some reports it is not like that at all.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/us/09spill.html

      "The scientists say the plumes are not bubbles of oil, as many people have imagined them, but consist of highly dispersed or dissolved hydrocarbons. In some spots, enough oil is present to discolor the water, but in most places, water samples come up clear. Yet the dissolved hydrocarbons show up vividly on instruments, and they can be smelled in some samples."

      They are talking of concentrations that are less than 1 part per million. It is still a large amount of oil that has been released but it is dispersed amongst a very, very large volume of water.

  9. Mark M
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Fortunately I managed to escape this trap. When I came out of university I had never had a full-time job but I was lucky enough to find a low-ish paying job for an MMath student, built up my work experience and I now find myself working for a FTSE100 company.

    Part of the problem is the 'rent-a-CV' culture, with the identical openings that tell you nothing about why the candidate is different. Another part is that they expect too much. They've been told all their lives that after uni they will walk into the job they want and all will be fine. Our education system has not prepared enough people for disappointment. The 20-odds have had everything they wanted all their lives. No wonder they don't know how to adjust to a job that they don't really want.

  10. Andrew Johnson
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The middle aged Oxford don had his feet on the desk and was hidden behind his newspaper He had been both disappointed and bored by his interviewees. His latest came from a comprehensive. "Surprise me" he said. The young man thought for a moment, reached in his pocket, got out his lighter and set fire to the Don's newspaper. He got accepted.
    What you have said is 100% correct. It is a tragedy of enormous proportions which undealt with, the country will rue for a long time. I hope you and the Coalition will do all you can to provide the the right conditions for the creation of jobs for these talented young men and women.

  11. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    I deal with small engineering firms providing a service to the historic and classic car market. They are busy. They could do with more more employees. A big disincentive to taking on more staff is the ever more onerous responsibilities placed on the small business employer for the staff they employ.

    A particular cause of concern is the fear of litigation from employees, or ex-employees, who are attracted to "non win no fee" lawyers who offer a one-way bet to riches. While recourse to litigation is always reasonable for legitimate claims, those that are simply a try-on should be discouraged by a realistic prospect of having to pay punitive damages when the claim fails.

    If you are the recipient of a claim you either have to defend it or pay up. As things stand at present with civil litigation, it always costs you money to prove you are right, not to mention the time it takes and the stress it causes. Judges are extremely reluctant to award punitive damages for frivolous claims that are lost. I suggest the government should act to redress the balance as to financial risk between claimant and defendant.

  12. Guy de Moubray
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Surely "regulatory" and not "regularity" ! Hoist with your own petard

    Reply: Either makes sense, saying something slightly different.

  13. Q46
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Perhaps no surprise since recent generations have been encouraged to believe that reward and progress is automatic according to the "equality" doctrine, where ability and merit do not count, indeed are forbidden.

    If young people are led to believe most of their young lives that advance in life is theirs by entitlement, how can they prepare to compete when the reality is it will depend on ability and merit.

    Thus have the social engineers, modernisers and Leftists prepared the generations and blighted them.

  14. Alexander Macleod
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Thatcher-right, thats ridiculous. I'm a young person, and while I'm still only finishing my A-levels, I'm finding it impossible to find a summer job. I'm predicted top grades, 3A*, and have work experience in politics and private equity as an intern, however am finding it impossible to find a job on a shop floor, and trust me I want a job.

  15. Nina
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Spell checkers for the IT literate generation?

  16. Mind Games
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    As in your comment I suppose…

  17. Peter_dtm
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Most recruiting is now done by agencies. They in turn are engaged by the HR department.
    In neither case is there any attempt to understand the needs of the actual position being advertised.
    Both agency & HR scan for keywords. No keyword no submission of CV to selection process.

    The trick now days is to get your CV to the person who has persuaded HR to allow him to recruit.

    Recruiters frequently have zero knowledge of the job skills required. So the best candidates never get the interview.

    And CVs end up being constructs of PC lies

  18. Demetrius
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Wot abart us mad old blighters wot wus in Elementary Skool and only lerned how to play British Bulldog? Apart from the Classics and History, that is. Pity about the Science, but that was for the Technical School chaps. My sorrow is for all those people who really should be doing useful jobs instead of hanging round educational slums to finish up in low paid jobs sitting by computers.

  19. THE ESSEX GIRLS
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    So sad.
    For the lesser skilled unemployed we still advocate a National/County service as we've often outlined here. All very well telling them to send CVs – even thoughtful ones – and to 'retrain' etc but there are simply insufficient jobs of the kind that equate with the old factory, mine & filing clerk positions.
    Re-deploy the welfare budget to the county and create a County Force with esprit de corps and worthwhile productive roles in Environment, Welfare and Military/Police training (with the option to sign up or move on after the discipline)

    Our other proposal is to give all school leavers training via closed circuit TV in how to communicate and present themselves, including the type of verbal and body language to use in different settings. The skills they could learn quite quickly will stand them in far better stead than most of the letters they may write to prospective employers and diplomas they might attach.

  20. Janet
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    For anyone who is out of work and wants a job which actually pays money I would recommend going to a temp agency (not the employment office who in my experience are next to useless). Once you are on the temp agency's books you may get offered something. Better still register with several temp agencies.

    Go to the temp agency armed with your CV and dressed appropriately ie business dress. Be prepared to do a typing/clerical test. If they say no straight away it may be because they don't have anything that day but if you go in again you may strike lucky. They get and fill vacancies daily.

    Writing endless letters or filling forms for prospective employment can often be a complete waste of time and very dispiriting. Once in a job you never know what it could lead to. I have used this approach myself as has one of my graduate children. I have a first class degree and PhD but I didn't put this on the CV as I didn't want to put prospective employers off. Many are too highly qualified for most of the jobs out there.

  21. libertarian
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    John,

    You are totally right. I own and run 5 recruitment advertising portals. We see 100,000's of cv's and they are all similar to your description.

    The two other big mistakes are using "humorous" e mail addresses and having facebook postings that belie their espoused "professionalism.

    I spend much time (on a voluntary basis) speaking to 6th form, FE College and University students about the job market. What's hot what's not and how to go about the job search and application process, especially using new technology.

    What has shocked me deeply is how in the space of one generation even our brightest talent has no real understanding of the world of work.

    I was explaining to a group of business studies students the basics of being interviewed and used the the scenario of an owner/manager of an SME. I said basically you are there to convince this person to give you £25k of their money. The students looked at me blankly and then one or two tried to argue that it wasn't his money just what they are due as a fair wage. They have no concept of where the money comes from in the first place

  22. anne allan
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    This sounds wearisomely familiar. Only British people aged 35+ and most foreign applicants are now capable of decent levels of literacy.
    I also blame mothers who seem determined to treat their sons in particular as permanent children. I've lost count of the number of mothers phoning up on behalf of their sons; the subsequent letter is written in a woman's hand with a totally different signature at the bottom.

  23. libertarian
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    @Thatcher-right

    Those work dodgers don't need to go to those lengths to not get a job but retain benefits. They just print off a list of online jobs they've "applied" for.

  24. Basil
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    It's all down to that wonderful "Education, Education, Education" that never materialised because if everyone is ignorant they are all in the perfect position of "Equality".

  25. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Should we rejoice that you are thinking of employing someone at a time of great Austerity, or commiserating with you over the failure of the education experiment that has resulted in people unable to recognise how to use a spell checker, and review their own grammatical mistakes?

    So that gives us two options for further blog posts:

    1/ a comment upon how the reforms implemented by Michael Gove might seem to redress the problems you outline

    2/ a comment on the complexities of employing people, maybe including the fact that in today's system if you employ two people to do the hours of one full time position you end up paying less employers national insurance to the treasury, and outline why industry has an incentive to promote part time work, whilst also demonstrating how regressive the tax is.

    As the father of a recent Graduate with a good masters degree, who had to struggle through much of the dissertation without knowing a great deal about the subject to check for grammer and spelling errors, I can sympathise immensely.

  26. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I would, however, also point you to the NHS who despite knowing that more junior doctors would be required because of the introduction of the working time directive failed to ensure that more people were recruited into the universities to complete medical training to fill these vacancies and so we are a net importer of Doctors from the rest of the globe.

  27. a-tracy
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I read hundreds of CVs. Many arrive without a covering brief letter saying why they want your particular job. Most are printed on photocopier white paper. 95% contain the phrase 'I can work well alone or as part of a team' without any evidence or example. The typist in me spots typos -v- misspelling, Microsoft Word doesn't help with set templates.

  28. Ian E
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    As Brown sowed, so shall we reap.

    It is such a tragedy that the Labour Party, which can never say no to expenditure, have now forced the following generation to pay so dearly for the excesses involved in 'doing the right thing'. I know their heart is, mostly, in the right place, but, oh, if only they would use their intellect too!

  29. Tom
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    "rather than telling prospective employers who they are, what they are good at and what they want to do."

    What can an applicant do when their honest answer to all three of these questions is "I don't know"?

  30. Steve Tierney
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I advertised for a new staff member a few years ago and specified that good written English was the main criteria I required.

    I was shocked by how few applicants had good results in English. But what was even more shocking was the poor standard displayed by those who HAD achieved top grades in it.

    Quite frankly, I have never trusted GCSE standards since.

  31. Dick the Prick
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    It's all rather depressing really, that they don't proof read their stuff or at least ask someone if it sounds like gibberish.

    I started working for the Tories over a year ago, got degrees, 12 odd years experience as an analyst, loved politics from birth but still, the learning curve has been remarkable. It's just not possible to read up on the practical experience that remains the bread and butter of everyday politics. The chat I had with a chap who'd done it for 40 years just to get voted out on a terrible conflation of circumstances was one of the most profound of my life. All careers end in failure and yet it seems so important at the time.

    They should teach that, politics can hurt if taken too seriously. Am very happy the election is over – can get back to my life.

    Cheers John

    DtP

  32. lola
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    What about the opposite problem. Finding two good potenial young employees for training and being so overtaxed and overregulated that I can't afford to take them on.

    I am so epically angry about how Bliar Darling Brown Balls wrecked the private sector – the real economy – I can no longer be trusted to speak about it in polite company.

  33. Caratacus
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I was lucky to have parents who taught me to read and help me find my life long love of books. I have passed this on to my children and I am amused to see this love passed on to a third generation. Reading – anything and everything. Writing letters and small compositions. I know I sound like an old fart but it really is that simple.

  34. StevenL
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    This is ironic coming from someone who advocates nationwide recruitment freezes as a solution to the fiscal deficit.

    Reply: Not so – I have achieved 10% cost reductions in each of the past two years, partly by taking advantage of retiring staff.

  35. @notasheepagoat
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    In a previous job, I used to receive CVs from prospective employees and they all had wonderful GCSE results, there were A and A* grades all over their CVs and lots about their prowess at Excel. However when they came to the interview which included a quick written test and an Excel exercise, the reality was most couldn't form sentences properly, spell any but the simplest of words, had little or no mental arithmetic skills and no discernible Excel skills. For years this government has been claiming that the ever better exam results show how standards are rising. However for years academics have been showing that in fact exam standards are being lowered whilst University admissions tutors and those in industry have long been giving feedback similar to mine.

  36. Pedant
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    @Steve Tierney: One main criterion. Criteria is the plural. If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones.

  37. Pedant
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    @Steve Tierney: One main criterion. Criteria is the plural. If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones.

  38. Frank54
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    why have so many people applying to work for john redwood not worked before? probably for the same reason that they are applying for a job working for john redwood: they are mad!

    Reply: try living in the real world and understand how difficult things are for the most recent graduates.

  39. DJP
    Posted June 12, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Recruiting an assistant editor for a national magazine recently was a shocker.

    A tawdry collection of CVs, with tragic written English, 'comedy' grammar and utterly formulaic content. Erudition, fluid prose, humour, originality – came there none!

    Several boasted of their Green credentials however, and how they were campaigning to stop global warming…

    The post remains vacant.

  40. DJP
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Recruiting an assistant editor for a national magazine recently was a shocker.

    A tawdry collection of CVs, with tragic written English, 'comedy' grammar and utterly formulaic content. Erudition, fluid prose, humour, originality – came there none!

    Several boasted of their Green credentials however, and how they were campaigning to stop global warming…

    The post remains vacant.

  41. Frank54
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    why have so many people applying to work for john redwood not worked before? probably for the same reason that they are applying for a job working for john redwood: they are mad!

    Reply: try living in the real world and understand how difficult things are for the most recent graduates.

  42. David Richards
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    I'm a (fairly) recent graduate stuck in this position, and it is one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I just need a job – any job – but have had only a couple of interviews since finishing my MA.

    I'm too overqualified for basic posts (for which I do apply), but lack sufficient experience for others. Temp agencies seem to find nothing. In retrospect, studying a masters seems to have been the most damaging thing I could have done to my career prospects, as I found it far easier to find work before my degrees, but I can't exactly leave them off my cv without leaving a five year gap.

    Sometimes I wonder if I should just claim to have spent the last five years detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure rather than at University. At least then I'd be able to get a job at McDonalds.

  43. David Richards
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    I'm a (fairly) recent graduate stuck in this position, and it is one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I just need a job – any job – but have had only a couple of interviews since finishing my MA.

    I'm too overqualified for basic posts (for which I do apply), but lack sufficient experience for others. Temp agencies seem to find nothing. In retrospect, studying a masters seems to have been the most damaging thing I could have done to my career prospects, as I found it far easier to find work before my degrees, but I can't exactly leave them off my cv without leaving a five year gap.

    Sometimes I wonder if I should just claim to have spent the last five years detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure rather than at University. At least then I'd be able to get a job at McDonalds.

  44. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Having read forty odd comments, seems to me there is a self-employed business opportunity here for an unemployed person who does have good English language ability. A CV proof-reading service could be run via the Internet from the computer in the bedroom.

  45. Alan Wheatley
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Having read forty odd comments, seems to me there is a self-employed business opportunity here for an unemployed person who does have good English language ability. A CV proof-reading service could be run via the Internet from the computer in the bedroom.

  46. Andy
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I have a Master's degree in rocket science, am a member of the 2 top Chartered Professional bodies in finance and have worked in the top banks and hedge funds in London. In almost every position my CV had years of made up experience. My first IT contract said I had 2 1/2 years experience even though I didn't even know what a network was. When you have to compete with Inter company transfers and fast tack visa workers you have to play by their rules otherwise you will never succeed

  47. Andy
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I have a Master's degree in rocket science, am a member of the 2 top Chartered Professional bodies in finance and have worked in the top banks and hedge funds in London. In almost every position my CV had years of made up experience. My first IT contract said I had 2 1/2 years experience even though I didn't even know what a network was. When you have to compete with Inter company transfers and fast tack visa workers you have to play by their rules otherwise you will never succeed

  48. Woodbine
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    We also experience the dirge of poorly written and poorly thought out applications. The most worrying aspect however, is that those that make it into employment too often view their job as an entitlement that is bestowed ad-infinitum at the start of their tenure. We struggle to engage and motivate young people who are more concerned with immediate gratification rather than developing skills and showing leadership.

  49. bofl
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    hey smart arse…no comma needed after 'and'.

    glass house?

  50. bofl
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    hey smart arse…no comma needed after 'and'.

    glass house?

  51. Woodbine
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    We also experience the dirge of poorly written and poorly thought out applications. The most worrying aspect however, is that those that make it into employment too often view their job as an entitlement that is bestowed ad-infinitum at the start of their tenure. We struggle to engage and motivate young people who are more concerned with immediate gratification rather than developing skills and showing leadership.

  52. SJB
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    You don’t say how many vacancies are on offer, but let us say it is just the one. So even if every applicant had met all the requirements only one candidate could be successful. What must be absolutely soul-destroying for these twenty-something graduates carrying £22k of debt (student loan) is how bleak their future must seem at the moment. Rather than signing-on every two weeks at the Jobcentre – hardly helpful to their mental health, incidentally – why on earth can’t the Coalition consider how many of these graduates (and other unemployed professionals) could with some training and modest start-ups costs become self-employed?

  53. SJB
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    You don’t say how many vacancies are on offer, but let us say it is just the one. So even if every applicant had met all the requirements only one candidate could be successful. What must be absolutely soul-destroying for these twenty-something graduates carrying £22k of debt (student loan) is how bleak their future must seem at the moment. Rather than signing-on every two weeks at the Jobcentre – hardly helpful to their mental health, incidentally – why on earth can’t the Coalition consider how many of these graduates (and other unemployed professionals) could with some training and modest start-ups costs become self-employed?

  54. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Thank you for planning my next lesson for me!

  55. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Thank you for planning my next lesson for me!

  56. OurSally
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Here is a great business opportunity for the unemployed over-50s. They could found small companies teaching the three Rs to school-leavers. Why not, actually? The over-50s can't find jobs, but they have real education.

    • The King of Wrong
      Posted June 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Great idea!

      Reading and writing are the biggies, but the number of graduates I've seen who struggle on "numerical reasoning" tests, even with multiple-choice and a calculator, is shocking. A bit of good old-fashioned mental arithmetic is just what's needed!

  57. OurSally
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Here is a great business opportunity for the unemployed over-50s. They could found small companies teaching the three Rs to school-leavers. Why not, actually? The over-50s can't find jobs, but they have real education.

    • The King of Wrong
      Posted June 14, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Great idea!

      Reading and writing are the biggies, but the number of graduates I've seen who struggle on "numerical reasoning" tests, even with multiple-choice and a calculator, is shocking. A bit of good old-fashioned mental arithmetic is just what's needed!

  58. simon
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    A large number of our problems have been due to a move away from education towards training .

    One misguided good intention which must be avoided is to make education courses even more vocational in an effort to shorten dole queues – even if requested to do so by industry .

    Companies typically recruit people with experience of various products and tools but no appreciation of the fundamentals underlying the particular field .

    This has been going on for so long now that the people requesting the new recruits never learned the fundamentals themselves so are unable to discern with a result that the job market does not function efficiently .

    If a company needs a project manager then the job advert will specify familiarity with specific project management software even though ability to use the tool
    doesn't make you a PM any more than using MS Flight simulator makes you a pilot !

    Nowhere will a job advert be found which specifies the right criteria for a database design vacancy and there would be very very few people
    born after 1965 who would meet the criteria and they would be outnumbered by 4 to 1 by those born before 1965 .

  59. simon
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    A large number of our problems have been due to a move away from education towards training .

    One misguided good intention which must be avoided is to make education courses even more vocational in an effort to shorten dole queues – even if requested to do so by industry .

    Companies typically recruit people with experience of various products and tools but no appreciation of the fundamentals underlying the particular field .

    This has been going on for so long now that the people requesting the new recruits never learned the fundamentals themselves so are unable to discern with a result that the job market does not function efficiently .

    If a company needs a project manager then the job advert will specify familiarity with specific project management software even though ability to use the tool
    doesn't make you a PM any more than using MS Flight simulator makes you a pilot !

    Nowhere will a job advert be found which specifies the right criteria for a database design vacancy and there would be very very few people
    born after 1965 who would meet the criteria and they would be outnumbered by 4 to 1 by those born before 1965 .

  60. The King of Wrong
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    "will put me in good persian for this role"

    That has to have come from a speech-to-text system. Conflating fill/feel is vaguely plausible as it's just a vowel shift, but 'persian' for 'position'?

    I got a B at GCSE English in the mid-'90s, and I've no idea how I even managed that. As far as I recall, I was never taught even the basics of grammar. There might have been a few spelling tests in school, usually when a PE teacher was subbing and didn't want to do any teaching, but it seemed mostly to be a case of "sit quietly and write something". Luckily, I picked up a lot at university – including a bad case of pedantry. It still flares up occasionally, usually when someone uses 'less' instead of 'fewer', but the doctors seem to think it's under control…

    I was quite amused last summer when the company's communications director implicitly accused me of plagiarism over some briefing text before conceding that he "didn't know anyone here could write like that". As far as back-handed compliments go, I'll take it!

  61. The King of Wrong
    Posted June 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    "will put me in good persian for this role"

    That has to have come from a speech-to-text system. Conflating fill/feel is vaguely plausible as it's just a vowel shift, but 'persian' for 'position'?

    I got a B at GCSE English in the mid-'90s, and I've no idea how I even managed that. As far as I recall, I was never taught even the basics of grammar. There might have been a few spelling tests in school, usually when a PE teacher was subbing and didn't want to do any teaching, but it seemed mostly to be a case of "sit quietly and write something". Luckily, I picked up a lot at university – including a bad case of pedantry. It still flares up occasionally, usually when someone uses 'less' instead of 'fewer', but the doctors seem to think it's under control…

    I was quite amused last summer when the company's communications director implicitly accused me of plagiarism over some briefing text before conceding that he "didn't know anyone here could write like that". As far as back-handed compliments go, I'll take it!

  62. christina sarginson
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I thought this blog was very sad and can’t help but wonder how much talent is wasted by us not recognising what special qualities a person has. It is very difficult for many people to present themselves on paper and many young people who have not had the experience to work at all or if they have they have had temporary posts where in many cases they are treated like second class employees. I really don’t know how this situation will get better as the job market is so bad I hope these young people do not become despondent and can reach their potential it is just a case of keeping going.

  63. christina sarginson
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I thought this blog was very sad and can’t help but wonder how much talent is wasted by us not recognising what special qualities a person has. It is very difficult for many people to present themselves on paper and many young people who have not had the experience to work at all or if they have they have had temporary posts where in many cases they are treated like second class employees. I really don’t know how this situation will get better as the job market is so bad I hope these young people do not become despondent and can reach their potential it is just a case of keeping going.

  64. Nick
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I know I'm getting old but reading through the bug reports my fellows write I note that their literacy, especially the younger ones – 20-25s is dreadful.

    OK, so I studied Eng Lit and Classics at university but it cannot be beyond anyone's ability to realise simple things such as full stops, paragraphs, capital letters, capitalising proper nouns and so on.

    But apparently it is. While recruiting for a new post reading the CVs was, as John discusses, a horrible experience filled with jargon and jaded phrases to the point we've changed our approach and are no longer going for high grade super people but instead set challenges along the lines of the work they'll actually be doing.

    The interesting ones – the eclectic – are brought in for a horrible hour of questions which could be called an interview and then deliberately taken to the pub across the road with the team who the chap will be working with (and sadly it is always a chap – I work in IT) and then the real interview begins away from the tie wearers and with the techies to asses if the person can do the job.

    Interviews are tough on shy people – often the best people – and CVs can be printed off. What you can't put on paper is enthusiasm or creativity, skills that can't really be taught.

    Young people especially are so desperate for jobs that they won't challenge interviewers at all, they don't argue, don't debate with the person they want to give them a job. Our best recruit to date called me a pillock and walked out in disgust.

    These days it is impossible to balance the desperation of needing to work with the more important interest in getting a career. While slightly woolly, I feel for young people today.

  65. Nick
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    I know I'm getting old but reading through the bug reports my fellows write I note that their literacy, especially the younger ones – 20-25s is dreadful.

    OK, so I studied Eng Lit and Classics at university but it cannot be beyond anyone's ability to realise simple things such as full stops, paragraphs, capital letters, capitalising proper nouns and so on.

    But apparently it is. While recruiting for a new post reading the CVs was, as John discusses, a horrible experience filled with jargon and jaded phrases to the point we've changed our approach and are no longer going for high grade super people but instead set challenges along the lines of the work they'll actually be doing.

    The interesting ones – the eclectic – are brought in for a horrible hour of questions which could be called an interview and then deliberately taken to the pub across the road with the team who the chap will be working with (and sadly it is always a chap – I work in IT) and then the real interview begins away from the tie wearers and with the techies to asses if the person can do the job.

    Interviews are tough on shy people – often the best people – and CVs can be printed off. What you can't put on paper is enthusiasm or creativity, skills that can't really be taught.

    Young people especially are so desperate for jobs that they won't challenge interviewers at all, they don't argue, don't debate with the person they want to give them a job. Our best recruit to date called me a pillock and walked out in disgust.

    These days it is impossible to balance the desperation of needing to work with the more important interest in getting a career. While slightly woolly, I feel for young people today.

  66. royalecraig
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    How about a four day week, not just now but in perpetuity, life should be about spending time with your family and friends, not work.

  67. royalecraig
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    How about a four day week, not just now but in perpetuity, life should be about spending time with your family and friends, not work.

  68. Penny
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks on your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.

    I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back
    later in life. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great posts,
    have a nice morning!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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