It has been 5 weeks since I last went to work and to be honest, I’m getting more than a bit sick of the sight of my own flat. Not to mention I’ve caught myself out a couple of time talking to myself…this is never a good sign. Now the redundancy has been finalised and confirmed I’m finding myself in a semi permanent state of job hunting. It is a full-time job in itself, hunting down vacancies, scouring the job sites, tweaking my CV (resumé for you guys in the US) to fit the job role and then waiting. Waiting for a call back, waiting for an email, waiting for the kettle to boil for yet more tea needed to fuel the endless rota of applying for the next job.
Not only have I been splashing my skills over the internet, but the employment agencies must know my number by heart now and I can almost hear their heart sink when I walk into their office. I’m registered with several agencies across Leeds and I’m not so much hounding them but making sure I’m never too far from their minds. In my registration interviews I’ve been the best I can be; friendly, professional, polite and chatty – everything you’d want a nice employee to be. Hell, I’ll professionally flirt if I have to and I’m not afraid to admit it but it’s starting to get a bit wearing. I’ll stop short of offering sexual favours however…even I have my standards.
One of the standard questions I’m being asked time and time again is “what salary are you looking for?” and it never fails to make me stumble. I don’t like discussing money, even if it’s owed to me but especially when I’m being asked how much I should be paid. When I went for the job I’ve just been booted out from, the salary wasn’t specified on the advert and it was discussed at the interview. I plucked a figure slightly higher than I was being paid in the previous job and waited. A brief silence and a 2nd figure was suggested. In the awkward silence of 5 seconds I felt myself blush scarlet and stumbled over my acceptance of the offer. I didn’t have the courage to query the amount nor did I want to linger over the discussion any longer than we already had.
What is becoming even more frustrating is being put forward for roles that are so much lower than I have specified that I’ve actually started getting quite good at talking about salary expectations. One post was starting at 13k with a maximum of 17k when and if I tick all their boxes. £13k isn’t enough to exist on, let alone live on. So I pulled up the “big girl pants” and told the recruiting agents that while it is a job, it isn’t a job that I can take on. I’m worth more than that and I’m getting quite good at getting that point across. Another call today with a similar outcome. It went something like this:Agent: “Jemma, I’ve got a vacancy that I want to put you forward for. It’s an admin role in an employment agency…you’d be great at it.” Me :”That’s fantastic! How much are they offering?” [long pause] Agent :”Well, they are starting at £14,000 and up to £16,000…but I’ve worked with them previously. I might be able to negotiate with them….” Me : “Can I just stop you there? It just isn’t enough. I’ll accept slightly less than what I’ve said I want and need to start on but that is just too low. And can I be really blunt, if they are only offering £14,000 then they’ll only attract that calibre candidate. I’m worth more than that.” Agent : “I see what you mean – let me talk to them and see what I can do.”
I have faith in my abilities and I know I’ll find a job soon (I’ll go mad if I don’t) but I’m also seeking a job with a salary that accurately rewards my skills and competencies. Maybe it’s taken me this knock back to make me see just how much I’m really worth. If that is the case, it might be the kick I’ve needed for a while.