13 July 2006

Job Seeking HQ

Today was a major job seeking day. I approached the task as if a political campaign, setting up a small head quarters on the dining table. I had my notebook, Log Books, phone, audio recording equipment and the all important recruitment section from the Evening Post.

First of all I made my (now near-daily) call to E.ON to attempt to obtain feedback on my unsuccessful interview of over two weeks ago (Wednesday 28 June). Again I was told that nobody was available to talk to me. I was getting extremely frustrated with the situation by now, as something which they had offered in the letter of rejection, which I had wrongly assumed would be pretty simple, had turned into a mammoth saga of phone calls (all of which I recorded). I was promised that someone would call me later that day.

That morning I had received a letter offering me a long awaited appointment at the dermatology clinic at Sneinton Health Centre for the coming Monday 17 July. This meant I need to get hold of Janine to find out for sure whether or not I would be working on Monday in the office at Nottingham Trent University. I rang Janine three times and left three messages, each time she also was unable to speak to me.

I then called the Powergen recruitment hotline and completed my 15 question multiple choice interview for the customer service call centre job. At the end, much to my relief, I was told that I had passed and that they were now in a position to offer me a place on the training day. Unfortunately it could not be until 1 August, over a week after the end of 'Part-time'! This was maddening after all the time I'd spent on the phone to them (all of these conversations were also recorded). She said she would send confirmation in the post - I thought it would be easier to wait until I'd received the letter and then just cancel nearer the time.

I then called the first of two adverts I had circled in the paper. They were both mysterious looking, neither mentioning the names of the companies you might end up working for - did they have something to hide?

I rang and spoke to a person called Belinda, not Amber as mentioned in the advert. I suspected Amber was some sort of code, so they knew where you found out about the job. Belinda was a friendly Australian lady who called me 'darlin' a lot. She asked me why I was interested in working for them - I didn't have a clue who 'they' were, so just blagged it. Eventually she offered me an interview for the following day at 15:00. The company was called Endeva Advertising and was based right in the middle of town. I was told to bring a CV and to dress reasonably smartly. Success.

I then called the next advert on the list bearing the tag line 'Earn More Than Your Parents'. A man answered and took down my details, checking whether I was over 18 and available to work from 9:00 - 18:00 weekdays. He said that someone would call me back within the hour. Norman Peck returned the call. He asked for all my details and it transpired, after I gave him my address, that he knew someone who lived in our block of flats. He was attempting to be very matey with me - this was obviously just one of his 'sales techniques' as he later quizzed me on how I would approach someone, over the phone, should I want to sell them something. He told me the secret was 'to relate to them on their own level' (IE be all matey).

The more Norman explained what the job entailed, the more unenthusiastic I became. I would be working in a call centre for a telecoms company called Unicom. I would be cold calling small businesses asking them to switch their telephone provider to Unicom and 'save up to half on bills'. He explained that the basic salary was 833GBP, but on top of that you got commission for every business you signed up.

I forced myself to sound excited about the prospect of doing such a vile job and Norman invited me in for an interview the next day at 14:00. When I asked Norman what I should bring he just said 'yourself and a smile - we are looking for interesting individuals who are prepared to get stuck-in and be enthusiastic'. Semi-success.

With two interviews now lined up for the next day I felt rather pleased with myself. I decided to give the phone a break for a bit and got on with writing day diaries in my notebook, and identifying a few recurring themes - activities or sagas which have been ongoing throughout the four week Prime Time period. For example the E.ON saga, the Specsavers saga, the dermatology clinic (count yourself lucky I haven't gone into much detail about these two) Panini stickers, the World Cup and discussions about the Union of Undercover Artists.

By the late afternoon, having not heard from E.ON as they promised I called again to see what on earth was going on. They apologised to me and said that someone would definitely get back to me soon.

That night I had another shift at Broadway Cinema - it was a quiet Thursday night where I got to watch two films I hadn't yet seen - Russian Dolls and Election, a Hong Kong film about the election process in the triads.

During the first film I tucked into my packed dinner, whilst sat in the back row. This is something I often do when working through a meal time. I often also get self-conscious when eating something with a strong smell and today's leftover daal and rice was no exception. After a few whispers and glances (when about half-way through my Tupperware), I decided it was best to eat the rest later. I put the lid back on and the smell quickly dispersed.

Between the two films I had a short 10 minute break. I listened to an answer phone message from Janine, who had called at 17:32. She apologised for not getting back to me sooner and said she should be able to get some 'feedback' from NTU about the job. Hmmm... not good news. Feedback is something usually only reserved for failed attempts... well at least I had my interviews to look forward to...