Experience

This one always leaves me bemused.

You need experience to do the job, but how do you get a job without experience?

The classic one advertised in Gib is in the gaming (aka gamblng but gaming sounds so much better doncha think?) industry. Everyone has to start somewhere, people don’t come automatically programmed with experience in a particular job sector. So how are they expected to gain experience without getting a foot in the door?

One of the more enlightened views in the civil service back in my youth, was that people could be moved from one department to another at the drop of a hat. You could be working in environment and then get moved to social security, for example.

When I say people, I mean career civil servants, who were expected to be intelligent enough to be able to pick up a totally new brief quickly and run with it immediately.

I kind of liked that idea. It credits people with having half a brain, being able to read up on a subject, and being able to assess what needs doing about something without needing 40 years experience in the field. People are being employed for their decision-making skills, their questioning abilities, and their all-round awareness and resourcefulness.

Apparently, although I didn’t know it at the time, when I was given the responsibility for cancer services in my organisation, there was some dissension because I wasn’t a medic. Precious medics seemed to think only another medic could manage something so clinical. Although plenty of other health authorities had non-medics leading cancer services.

Managing a particular health service doesn’t need a clinical background. You aren’t diagnosing patients or treating them, you are trying to improve the quality of the service. Just as you don’t need to have an MSc in Environmental Sciences to work for the Dept of Env or whatever it is called these days. Or to be a farmer to work for Defra (Maff as was). I obviously made a reasonable job of it because when I left, most of my leaving cards, flowers, and all that sort of stuff came from clinicians who I’d worked with in cancer services.

But there is a bizarre view here in Gib that you MUST have done the job before you can apply for one. Naturally, when asked at the job centre if I have experience in that field, I always say yes. Assertively. Hardly difficult when I have such a varied CV.

Here in Gib we live in CV land. Everyone wants a CV. Employers say very little about the job you are applying for, but you are still meant to send a CV. How am I supposed to send a CV if I don’t know what the job entails? I have to guess what particular skills and achievements to emphasise. Minimise the irrelevant ones, because people are so narrow-minded they don’t understand the concept of transferable skills and experience. Why are employers so oddly blinkered that they don’t think someone can adapt and pick up a new role or a new job?

Contrast this with my partner working in the construction industry. Invariably if he goes for a job interview he gets the job. His CV tends to be on the lines of – name, address, telephone, qualifications, skills within the trade, and the fact that he has run his own business for more than 20 years. A few paragraphs or sentences. No references. His trade papers and 40 years experience carry the day. And he’s always willing to start and if they aren’t happy after a couple of hours he’ll leave. Never happens of course.

It used to be quite common in the construction industry to give someone a start along those lines. Try them out for a few hours, maybe a whole day if it was a laid-back sort of firm, and if you were no good – you got the push, although paid for the few hours you had worked (well, most times).

Sometimes, in our incredibly complicated lives, that strikes me as such a sensible option. No stupid contracts that tie everyone down before you have even started, no probation periods, no this that and the other, just – turn up tomorrow and we’ll see if it works out. I’d be quite happy to do that. Turn up at a newspaper office and start work? Easy. Turn up in a general office to manage that? Just as easy. Turn up at a public relations firm? The same. The list continues, health service, company secretary, sandwich maker, compiling parts at a motorbike factory (not too many of those in Gib), packing magazines blah blah blah you get the idea.

Plenty of experience in different employment fields and a successful record in all of them. So why is ‘experience essential’ such an important criteria? Come along employers, think outside your rather restricted box. Not so much for me, but for all those other people who have no experience in any field at all and very much need it.

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About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in journalism, life, musings, work, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Experience

  1. Good thoughts! When I finished work I was managing all sorts of services that I knew little about but it hardly mattered. Big problem is that professional services have created their own ‘trade unions’ which block people breaking in however talented they are. Things are so much easier now that I have retired – all I need is a handicap and I can play unlimited golf!

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  2. I have no problem with valuing experience – but I don’t think it is the only criteria, especially in so-called ‘thinking’ jobs. Slightly different when you want someone to build a wall that doesn’t collapse on people, or service a car that doesn’t involve wrecking the brake pipes. I guess it boils down to people should at least get a start.

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  3. Vicky says:

    Agree completely, I’ve lost track of the number of job headlines I’ve been interested in, only to read further down that experience in required, and in my mind at least 50% of those jobs you’d only need common sense to do it.

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    • Then of course you get into the theory about job aps. I read years go about men totally ignoring the requests for this qual, that much experience blah blah, and just going for it anyway with a somewhat bullshittish CV.

      If someone has the ideal experience/necessary quals then that’s great. But it’s rarely the case. And you are so right. An iota of intelligence is all you would need. Although no doubt if you had any you would probably be bored with said job as soon as you had got on top of it in two days 😀

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