In which I look back on a day spent battling the circumstances under which I labour …

It’s been an application day today. In every sense of the word that I can think of.

I’ve applied myself to job applications using software applications after an application of gloss to my CV and career achievements. That’s a lot of application.

I’ve found the further into my job hunt I’ve got the more time I am spending on applications. I’ve been out to meet recruitment consultancies and we have even had some into the office for workshops. They have all said variations around the same themes: sell yourself; sell your achievements; and, do ‘good’ applications.

I think I’m getting a sense of what ‘good’ in this context should look like. That’s why it’s taking so long now. The early care-free days of bashing together an application and flinging it into the ether have gone. So it’s a more sober RPS approaching the job of applying for jobs these days.

But, maybe it’s the almost 50 years of diffidence that’s been bashed into me that makes some of these tasks so uncomfortable. Hunting out the nuggets of personal achievement in a career built on collaboration and teamwork feels wrong somehow. I can’t help it but I always imagine a colleague reading these claims thinking, ‘Hold on, you snake, that was me/us not you!’

Visitors will know I’m a bit of a history buff. I’ve been re-reading the first volume of the late Elizabeth Longford’s superb biography of the 1st Duke of Wellington. It’s 200 years almost to the day since the then Viscount Wellington led his army into the Lines of Torres Vedras. A series of fortifications to the north of Lisbon upon which the invading French army broke itself. I think I have mentioned before that I’m quite sad?

Anyway what I had forgotten was Wellington’s earlier unavailing efforts as the impecunious younger son of an Irish peer to get himself a job. Now I wouldn’t be forward enough to compare my situation in any way to that of the young Arthur Wesley but I can empathise with how he must have felt writing,

“I assure you nothing but the circumstances under which I labour would induce me to trouble Your Excellency’s Government … I hope I shall not be supposed to place myself too high in desiring to be taken into consideration … [but if I am] …of course you will say so …”

Been there. Got the tee-shirt, mug and commemorative calendar.

Just substitute Your Excellency’s Government with a small (but growing) band of putative public and private sector employers and you have an 18th facsimile of my covering letter’s opening paragraph. (Which given Lord Wei’s sudden enthusiasm for the Georgian and Regency periods may stand me in good stead.)

Now I’m not planning to spend the next 20 years of my career fighting in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium. Or indeed becoming the preeminent European of my age. So I think if safe to assume that Arthur’s and my career trajectories will now be divergent. But one of the career advisors did say, ‘never rule anything out.’ So let’s just park that thought.

Back to the applications …

About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
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10 Responses to In which I look back on a day spent battling the circumstances under which I labour …

  1. CivilServiceFatcat says:

    You’re a really excellent writer. Seriously, have you thought about writing as your new career? I’m so glad that the Guardian has picked up on your blog and has you as a guest blogger. Maybe that could be the start of something? Are you tweeting your own blog postings – that would help to build your readership and encourage people to re-tweet your posts

    • Dear CivilServiceFatcat, you are very kind. I do tweet about this and that (mostly job-hunting related). Good luck and best wishes, RPS

    • localgov says:

      For what it’s worth, seconded many times over. I’ve commented before that I feel a guilty pleasure enjoying your style, wit and prose whilst appreciating your subject matter, but it won’t stop me coming back for more.

      I’ve also recommended these posts highly to my many colleagues who, like me, are in a similar boat and often feel that no-one out there knows what it’s like.

      And should you call yourself sad for showing interest in one of the most fascinating periods of world history once again I shall call you out, sir, and demand satisfaction!

  2. Doug Shaw says:

    interesting blog, came here via the Guardian via @FlipChartFT on Twitter – in case you wanted to know like. I wish you well in your search.

    I opted for voluntary redundancy in June last year from a well paid private sector job. I ran out of road and didn’t want to spend the later years (I was 43 at the time, koff koff) of a very enjoyable and useful career getting bored, and feeling dependant on the ole place. So I left and set up on my own. It’s a tough climate and things are starting to go better now. So what? Well I appreciate I’ve yet to find out what it feels like to have your post made redundant, I did push the button after all. Just wanted you to know there’s interesting life beyond. Travel well redundant dude.

  3. Troodles says:

    Still following and enjoying your blog. After much thought I have fallen on my sword and will find myself on Monday without a job after 27 years in the civil service. It’s a sobering thought. For many of my colleagues their decisions have not been in their gift and the gamut of feelings have been rollercoaster like. The breath of experience currently being lost from the redundancy round in my department is vast. But who seems to care? I think it hit home when on informing my sibling that I was taking redundancy and would be job hunting, to be told ‘ oh so you’ll have to work for a living now!’ Back to the application process for me next week, I feel like you are there holding my hand.

    • Dear Troodles, good luck with getting yourself sorted. I know exactly what you mean about self-determination. I am luck to have some certainty and control now over what is happening to me. For many of my colleagues and people I know there’s only uncertainty which can sap the will of the strongest person. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. RPS

  4. Deborah Parr says:

    Dear RCS

    yes, you are a very good writer. In one way I hope you get a job soon and you don’t have time to blog, on the other hand, it makes enjoyable reading.

    Best wishes

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