Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How fast things can change

It's quite funny, actually, or should I say ironic, that in my last post I was writing about how fairly good things were at work and that I was in no rush to move on. It was all suiting me just fine. Well, not too long after my colleagues and I were informed that the organisation was making plans for a major restructure which would impact on some people's jobs, whether this would mean changes to their roles or making the phasing out the role to introduce something altogether different. Already the next line area managers were reapplying for roles that were changing from what they had been previously - all of these people were successful and are making new business plans for their areas. I've now discovered that my role will have different responsibilities added to it and I will be line-managed by another person in a different area who has been with the organisation less than a year. The areas I am told that need attention don't exactly thrill me with excitement and the new manager's interests don't seem to coincide with mine very much. This person is nice enough and I have the usual respect for him/her as I would for anyone else in the office, but I guess in all honesty, I'm not overly impressed with some of the approach to what I would have expected were simple decisions about a few things over the last months or so. It may be that my part-time role will now change to full-time. I'm told there is a possibility to consider how this may work in a job-share arrangement if I wanted to continue part-time. It's a guessing game as to how many prospective people may line up to take this possible job share and bring with them a range of skills/interests that I may not have, which could then complement the idea of the job share. All will be explored in more detail in a meeting next week. I'm trying to keep an open mind on this.

This all has prompted lots of pondering and some attempts at how to think about planning my future. I was actually successful in being shortlisted for a challenging interview for a role at the university before Christmas and I was very excited about the prospect of being chosen for something that looked like it was right up my street in terms of transferable of skills and interests. After loads of research and planning for what would be a whole morning of various tasks for the recruitment process I finally decided I had done enough and didn't want to overkill or burn out during a time when I was recovering from a cold that had been dragging on (and then returned over the holiday in a worse state). But sadly all of my good efforts proved not to be enough to convince them to hire me, or indeed the other two shortlisted candidates. I was told no one was offered the job as we didn't quite offer what they were looking for - indeed they were going to rethink this role, what they wanted and how to proceed. I've found this enlightening - the way it was advertised with the usual list of 'essential' criteria and 'desirable' criteria suggested they were remaining flexible, maybe hoping that someone interesting might show up with the potential and evidence of the goods. But I guess 'potential' isn't good enough if the employer wants that person to get in and turn out the goods fast with obvious confidence. This kind of candidate would need 'essential' experience in that field of work and developed skills in 'all' the areas, which I believe is what they hoped to find. I made the brave move afterwards to ask for feedback about everything. Wow, this ended up being quite a deflating experience, more than I was ready for. The list of criticisms seemed endless, aside from the compliment that I was quite likable/approachable, would be good to work with. Hmm, well, as this case shows, you need a lot more than that to secure a good job. But I guess what I have learned is that the aspect of the job that would have actually demanded most of my time, was in fact, when I look closely at my skills and what I 'enjoy' doing professionally, the least attractive part of the role. I hadn't quite realised this important point until afterwards, after I was forced to swallow the feedback. A good friend also reminded me that I shouldn't use this as a case to be too hard on myself. The whole recruitment process relies heavily of a lot of criticism, and especially in an example like this where they didn't hire anyone. As this was the case, they had to show good reasons why they wouldn't hire us. I may have been naive to expect to get more positive feedback after this process. And all of the kind giggling, smiling, positive nodding in the interview, in retrospect, feels like a bit of an unkind joke, a farce. If the interview panel were less cheery and signaled a bit clearer some of their dissatisfaction then maybe the let down would have been easier.

Still, a good professional learning experience for me for sure. I'm fully aware of the fragility of the workplace at the moment when things can unexpectedly begin to change. It feels good that my application was strong enough to shortlist me, but in future I should be more selective and really think hard about what kind of job I want to commit myself to, and how this would compliment my strengths, not challenge all my weak areas. I also decided I want to stick to part-time hours. Well, that's going to be harder to achieve - it's not going to just slot into place. Funny, that was another thing that came up with this interview. I had phoned and spoke to one of the contacts about whether the full-time spec could be worked into part-time and I was reassured that it was worth applying as they may consider this for the right person. But when I brought this up to the other contact in the interview the prospect seemed surprising to him/her and the other person kept quiet about it. Oh well. Sticking to this whole part-time agenda thing is going to introduce challenges. I'm not sure at all how I'm going to deal with this at the moment. For today, I'm going to just try to remain calm, take things slowly, see what happens at next week's work meeting and take things from there. Wish me luck.

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