‘You don’t have your graduation dates on your CV.’
Those were some of the first words I heard uttered at an employment agency I signed up with last week. I told the recruitment agent that no, I didn’t, because it wasn’t relevant to the jobs I was looking at – admin and receptionist jobs don’t need to know when I graduated from my Masters in museum studies. If I was going into the field I was actually trained for then sure, but I’m not.
‘But how can people tell how old you are?’
I told the agent that my age shouldn’t matter, and that I removed the date to stop age discrimination. If employers want to know how old I am, they can look at my ID.
She went quiet after that and finished signing me up. Age doesn’t matter. Experience does, and I’ve got plenty of that. Almost twenty years, in fact.
It does seem to me, though, that job postings these days are more geared towards ambitious people who want to Go Places rather than people like me who are just looking for a job to pay the bills. Words like ‘fast paced environment’ and ‘going above and beyond’ are very likely to make me click away from the job posting and go and look at another one, but chances are that one is just the same.
The salaries of the jobs that are out there that aren’t senior level are also laughably low. I’ve had a few recruiters reach out to me with jobs with a ‘competitive’ salary that’s almost £10k below what I’m earning now, and then get pissy with me when I’ve told them I can’t live off that salary. I have rent and bills to pay, I can barely make them on what I’m earning now. I know admin is traditionally not great for pay, but honestly some of these salaries are disgusting, especially for the area I live in which has a very high cost of living compared to literally everywhere in the country apart from Central London.
Job hunting right now, after four years away from having anything to do with it, is a freaking nightmare. I don’t want to be a manager. I don’t have the right temperament to be a manager. I am happy being a drone, like I am now, and I know that limits my options, but equally I don’t want to work for somewhere that wants ‘rockstar’ candidates or ‘dynamic’ personalities.
Those kind of postings exhaust me just reading them.
I’m also noticing that there are a lot of roles now that demand fully in-office five days a week. That’s a massive deal breaker. Because of my health problems, I need the option to work remotely at least some of the time. I’m not well enough to work in an office full time, especially in a role that’s as busy as the one I’m currently in. If I had to go back to in-office five days a week, I’d quit. I physically cannot do it. I had thought the pandemic might have made companies realise that remote or hybrid remote is the way forward, but it seems to be swinging back towards fully in-office.
No thanks. I’ll stay where I am and burn out before I leave for a place that isn’t at least hybrid working.
My age is also an issue. Well, maybe not my age, but my maturity level. I’m a bit childish at heart but I was a teenager in the 90’s, so I’m Old compared to some people in the place I currently work. I don’t get a lot of things that are trending now – I’ve never watched Love Island, today’s chart music makes me want to rip my ears off and I flatly refuse to use TikTok – so I cannot relate to a fair few of my colleagues. The age of the people I would be working with is important, because if I’m going to be the oldest person on a team, I won’t have a good time.
I did have an interview a couple of weeks ago, at a place where I genuinely think that I would have been the oldest person on staff. I told them at the interview that I didn’t want the job, citing that I think I would be a bad fit after about forty minutes of being grilled on competencies, and I definitely would have been a bad fit, not just for the team but for the company culture. The panel that was interviewing me was incredibly young (like ‘I could have been their mum’ young), none of them had been with the company for more than six months (always check LinkedIn before you have an interview, it’s handy to know who you’re seeing) and all had very senior-sounding roles which they hadn’t started out in (again, thanks LinkedIn – it’s a useful resource). I got the impression that it was a company that promoted quickly and pushed its employees into senior positions as soon as it could.
Not a single one of them could clearly answer my question of ‘why is this role open?’ either, which was a huge red flag for me. What did happen to the previous employee? Did they burn out or were they managed out or fired or…? They also didn’t like my question of ‘what’s the turnover like at this company?’ and changed the subject. Another red flag right there.
I also couldn’t find a single review on Glassdoor or anywhere else for that company. Now I’m not sure if companies can remove reviews, but it seemed a little suspicious to me. I reckon I made the right choice by dismissing that job, I really do.
In a nutshell, I’m beginning to think that freelancing again may be my only option. My health, whilst not perfect, is much better than it was the last time I went to work for myself, and there’s so much more now that can be done to promote a business or service. I’ve also had several ‘aha’ moments over the past few months about work and corporate culture in general, and those are driving me more and more towards working for myself again.
Until such time as I decide to jump, though, I have to eat and fuel my car, so I do need to find a job in corporate land. My options are to stick it out where I am and risk a spectacular burnout, take a lower paid job and possibly get myself into debt (no thanks), or quit and hope to god that I can re-establish myself in the freelance world quickly and start earning. I have about three months salary saved up thanks to the pandemic, but I don’t know if that’s enough.
In conclusion, job hunting sucks, but I think it’s easier if you’re younger. There’s more out there for folks with more energy and ambition than me. At my age, and with my health problems and salary requirements, it’s quite difficult.