01 January 2010

New Year New Job

Well, as I alluded to in an earlier post (Pushing on Closed Doors) I've been looking for a job that will help pay the bills since we arrived in the US this past August and such a job has been, unsurprisingly given the economy, quite difficult to find.

Probably like tens of thousands of people, I sent out hundreds of resumes and applications and got very few interviews. But, in a perfect example of all the buses coming at once, I answered two job adverts this past Monday, promptly got two interviews and then two job offers. Both jobs pay the same hourly rate (just above minimum wage) and both were offering 28 to 32 hours/week, but the first job was located about an hour's drive away and would have meant working until 9:45 pm 3 days a week as well as working on Sunday. The second job is in town - about 1 to 2 miles away - and there are no Sunday hours. Even better, I'll be working four 7-hour days instead of a few hours 5 days a week, which was the case with the other job.

I'm not going to give specifics about the job, but it's a locally-owned business providing a service. The owner works on the premises and the atmosphere is in the shop is very good. I've used it myself as a customer and the workers are friendly know many of the clients who come in. The work will be varied; all the employees take turns doing the different functions and I'll be on my feet, which is something that I wanted.

I had a good long chat with the owner (who is a bit older than me) when I was having my interview and he asked me about my job-hunting experience. I told him that I'd sometimes felt there might be some age discrimination going on. I felt this especially with a temporary agency that I signed up with. I did very well on their skills tests and the agency would ring me and say that they had a match of a job for me and they'd just send my resume (CV) over to the client "and then we'll have you out working". Then the client would say that they didn't want me. This happened about 5 or 6 times. Now, I understand someone maybe thinking I'm "over-qualified" for a data-entry or typing job, but I couldn't see why this would matter for temporary jobs. I began to wonder if they really wanted someone young and pretty to look at more than they wanted someone to type.

The owner looked at me with a look of recognition and said "Do you know what I think it was about?" I asked what. He said that many of the middle-aged people he'd hired couldn't deal with the computer. This particular business has a rather complex filing system to deal with clients' orders and it runs on proprietary computer software. He said that many of the people "our age" that he'd hired would get really lost and flustered with the computer and just couldn't cope. Whereas the younger people could intuitively figure their way around the software. He'd stopped worrying about that when I pulled out my iPod Touch to put our appointment in my calendar (diary) and was even more reassured when he had happened to see me in a local coffee shop working on my laptop.

I thought this was a very interesting observation and I think he may have had a point. I'd been trying to figure out possible objections to hiring me and I'd even written on my resume that I am a US citizen and eligible to work in the US without sponsorship, since all my experience for the last 20 years was in the UK. I also wrote in my self-profile that I am "fit and healthy and not taking any medications" since someone mentioned to me that they thought an "older" (hello!) person might be off sick a lot (actually, I suspect that might be a false stereotype, but if the bosses are 30-something and they think that, then I might as well tell them I'm energetic and healthy).

I'd actually thought about "the computer issue" once before when a twenty-something expressed surprise that I knew what a USB-port was. But I never actually took seriously the idea that someone would assume that I couldn't find my way around a computer.

Anyway, I am very relieved to have a job and it's going to make a big difference to our situation.

Here's hoping for good things in 2010.


Will said...

That's fantastic news, Pam! (About the job, that is. Not the age discrimination.)

PamBG said...

Thanks, Will. It's amazing what a weight this has taken off my mind. :-)

jay said...

Excellent news, Pam. Good for you!
Must say it does not surprise me that employers think that older people are computer illiterate and therefore unemployable because of this. But like people who can not read or write people who are computer illiterate can be taught.

I used to work as an advisor to job seekers and the company had a policy of reaching out to the older job seeker, or young job seeker, to become not just computer literate but capable of comprehending the need to be Information Technologically savvy :)Any way, well done and good luck.

PamBG said...

Thanks, jay.

If the technology issue was the pertinent one, I wonder how you can prove that?

I took tests on Word and Excel at the Temp agency they were incredibly basic tests and I did well on them but I can see why an employer wouldn't necessarily be confident when the agency said I could use these programs. I could see someone passing the tests and not actually being able to use the software.

I said on my resume that I could use Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. I guess people thought I was lying.

The ironic thing is that I've been using PCs literally since the first IBM PC ever came out. Oh well, I have a job now, that's the main thing!