It's now been 7 months since I stopped working. Technically, as they paid my notice, I suppose I've only actually been out of work for 4 months... but it all amounts to the same really.
As I've mentioned before, I decided about three months ago that I was actually going to look for a paying job. This wasn't always a given, and it took a bit of time away from the long hours of my last job to start to be able to see things more clearly.
Looking for work is a vaguely depressing activity: you need to give it the attention it deserves if you're really serious about it, but at the same time it all seems frustratingly arbitrary. It's a buyer's market, and although job sites and electronically stored CVs means that it's probably never been easier to apply for a job, lots of these places don't even bother to acknowledge your application, never mind telling you that you've been passed over.
As anyone who has been in this position before will know, you just can't take these thing personally. At the same time, sometimes the process is so arbitrary that you just want to scream. There's never going to be a really fair way of recruiting people, but there are certainly plenty of unfair ways. David Brent famously said that you can avoid employing unlucky people by throwing half of the CVs you receive straight into the bin. I sometimes wonder if that's a fairer process than some of the ones I've recently had the misfortune of being exposed to. The University of Nottingham was already in my bad books for rejecting me for a job on the basis of a competency based interview they tried to carry out over the phone in 15 minutes with a two person panel on a dodgy line. They went even further down in my estimation when they gave me 8 days notice of an interview with a presentation (which itself was on a subject which had nothing to do with the job, but that's another story). The problem wasn't the relatively short notice, it was that I wasn't available on the day of the interview. As is always the way now, the invitation to interview suggested I contact them if I needed any accommodation. Well, presumably you can shift the date of the interview to a date I can attend? No, came the answer, we can't. Thanks for your interest. What?
Anyway. The search continues. In the meantime, I'm carrying on with voluntary work. I've been acting as a sighted guide for the Guide Dogs MyGuide service, and this has seen me acquire a chap I take out running once a week, and another who I take out for a walk every other week. As well as this, I've been doing my usual volunteering for parkrun and, as of this month, I'm now officially a trustee of a Nottingham-based domestic abuse charity. All together, this little lot takes up around 3 days of my week, more or less. To be honest, I'm not sure how I managed to find the time for a full time job. As I said to the chair of the trustees when he asked me how I would find the time to keep up this level of volunteering when I do manage to find another paying job, you don't have to work 60 hours a week, do you? Towards the end in my last job, 50-60 hour weeks were fairly common. No one was making me do them, but I did them all the same. When I get back into work, I'm going to free up all that extra time by trying to just stick to my contracted hours.
Let's see how that plan stands up to the first contact with the enemy, eh?
I'm also thinking of starting to volunteer at the local Oxfam store. It's not out of the question that I might try to find a part time job that brings in a bit of spending money but leaves me with the freedom to spend my time doing the things that I really find fulfilling.
It's nice to have the flexibility in my life. I don't need to find a paying job at the moment, I'm just choosing to look for one.
Anyway. Happy new year.
2020 already looks like it's going to be a difficult one for the world, but as long as we each try to do our bit, then we have something positive to hang onto, eh?