Surviving the job hunt-It’s a jungle out there!

I recently applied for a job (wasn’t successful) and found out that nearly 300 people applied for the position. I nearly fell off my chair when I heard about it but when you consider the floods of applications to bodies such as the PSNI for positions you really understand how it really is an employer’s market.

For any university graduate or person who has lost a job the harsh reality of continuously applying for a job and hearing nothing back can be a soul destroying process. It actually got to a stage for me when I was just grateful to receive a rejection email. But for those of you who read this blog I thought it might be useful to share my experiences over the last few months and hopefully offer some useful advice.


Before you begin with anything, you need to have a CV that can get you to an interview. Education is a great opener but it really is not the end in and of itself, you need have some good experience and skills to go along with this. But the key thing to remember is to make sure that it addresses the job you are applying for-do not just send out the same CV over and over again-this was a mistake I made for a while and it does not work. There are a lot of websites that can help you with formatting and style-use them.

Another thing I would say is be proud of your CV-if you’re not confident about what you have done, then how on earth can you convince an employer?

Hanging in there

This is crucial, it can be really difficult to get rejection, if an employer rings up and says that you have not got the job-don’t get angry, thank them for taking the time to actually talk to you and end things on a positive note. You should always remember that just because you are not working with them now, does not mean you can never work with them in the future.

If you get rejection-take it on the chin and learn from it. If you simply take the attitude that the world is out to get me and nobody wants me then you will go nowhere. I know this is easier said than done, but trust me it’s much better to try and get feedback and learn for your next interview than it is to be bitter. At the end of the day life is just too short!

This leads me on to my next point-keep looking! I know people who had 5 or 6 interviews before they were offered anything and some went for weeks without an interview. If you keep looking, then something will turn up. You should always keep in your mind that you only need one person to say yes and that should be your goal.

Final thoughts

I am a big believer in the saying that everybody has something to offer and just because a certain skill set you have is not in vogue today, does not mean that it will not be important in the future.

When the dark days come about just remember that it is up to you to make your life better and you can make the change you want to see in your life. But you’re never going to achieve any success if you fear failure. Failure and disappointment can be great teachers and will in the long run make you a better candidate.

I received some disappointment on the job front today myself and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about it. But what matters is what I am going to do tomorrow-I shall dust down the auld CV, hit the websites and do it all over again. That is what matters when it comes to surviving the jungle, being willing to fight for your spot and persevering and if you can do it with a smile on your face at the end of the day then you’re not doing too badly at all.

So to all your job seekers out there you’re in good company and as you approach Christmas keep in mind the saying ‘tough times don’t last, tough people do.’


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  • Barnshee

    Too many people in NI chasing too few jobs

    Jobs aplenty for the qualified in London and the SE
    go to it

  • John Ó Néill

    A couple of useful tips:

    – if you are asked for a covering letter or trying to work out how to rejig a cv, start with the list of desirable and essential criteria the job advert lists. Try and reshape your cv to match each listed essential criteria (in a covering letter, make this a checklist so you ensure whoever looks at the cv knows you meet all the short listing criteria, then concentrate on any desirable skills/experiences that might enhance your application by highlighting them)
    – be realistic, chances are every recruitment competition will be tough, if you have to go for a job that isn’t where you’d hoped you’d be, you aren’t gaining any experience by neglecting other posts you might have a better chance of winning and your cv won’t improve by repeated failed applications. To be realistic, look at the essential criteria in post you would like and take a step down to try and make up any deficiencies. It might seem like a blow to your self-confidence, but it can be presented as a bit of strategic planning in future interviews that a panel will look favourably on. Even if it requires further qualifications, your better to bite the bullet and get started now than in two years time,
    – studies repeatedly show skills atrophy after 6 months of unemployment. You also start to drop out of networks and other opportunities to get word of mouth advice and guidance. This has a impact and men, in particular, are not good at dealing with the types of mental health issues this leads to (do not underestimate the impact this has on your ability to get yourself in job hunting mode). You should bear this in mind when prioritising what you apply for.
    – lastly: there is professional help out there that you can access, so google it and use it.

    [To put this in context, I think I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and read thousands of CVs at this stage, as well as competing for posts, and as the Head of Lifelong Learning for a higher education institute I’m involved in various activation measures and talking to policy advisors and industry]

  • It might help also to join a group such as to make contacts. I don’t know if they are just North American oriented or if they are worldwide.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    They’re worldwide Mr J and I agree.

    At first I thought it was a waste of time but (maybe depending on the industry) it certainly has it’s perks.

  • Non-graduate employment is also a problem.
    I empathise.
    In August this year, I applied for a job aged 61. The first time I had applied for a job since August 1973. In those days things were very different. Job Applications rather than CVs.
    It was always a long shot that I would get the job aged 61 but I could at least frame the application in such a way as to draw attention to my age and disability and therefore be prepared re Age or Disability Discrimination.
    Although I thought getting the job a long shot…I thought it reasonable that I would get short-listed. I have the relevant degree and experience. I believed that if I was interviewed…it was at least “game on”.
    So I didnt get the job. Wasnt even short-listed.
    But I didn’t know that I was entitled to FEEDBACK until it was pointed out by a Third Party.
    Therefore….GET FEEDBACK?
    Sorry I cant reveal the nature of the Feedback but I think the reason actually embarrassed the person who signed the letter. Indeed the reason actually embarrasses a few people who cant look me in the face.
    NETWORKING….What I did notice about going back to Universvity aged 53 was how tuned in some 18 year olds are and how inclined to drift others are.
    From the very first Freshers Bazaar it was obvious that some young people were already building their portfolio …students Union, societies, internships and the rest.
    In the quasi-political MetroTextual world of Twitter and Facebook …it is very dis-spiriting to see the number of re-tweets and shares that are actually just a CV exercise.
    LiNKD IN has been mentioned. Its fairly shameless Networking. But it probably helps to say on a CV “I attach a copy of my LiNKD In Profile”. It at least shows that the applicant knows the rules of the game.

    The awkward thing about applying for jobs at 61 is that I am fairly comfortable in my zone of Cynicism and Bitterness so having eight weeks of actually writing my first and last CV and preparing for an interview I didnt get …was actually quite optimistic….before being sent back to the Comfort Zone.
    So…advice if any.
    Be Glad youre a graduate. It is actually a help.
    Get Feedback.
    Network like Crazy.

  • Harry Flashman

    “From the very first Freshers Bazaar it was obvious that some young people were already building their portfolio …students Union, societies, internships and the rest.”

    A very astute observation and one that passed me completely by when I entered university as an 18-year-old.

    I had no idea that half the people around me were already building their career, I just assumed university was an extra few years of school before I had to grow up and join the real world, with the fun addition of lots of beer and the possibility (admittedly slim) of getting a leg-over every so often.

    In today’s environment anyone who is prepared to take on the expense and commitment of a university education needs to forget any antiquated notions of a three year piss-up with a few exams at the end of it and then a guaranteed job.

    Those days are over.

    Even choosing summer jobs needs to be well thought through, I remember cruising through the summers doing minimum wage shop or bar work just earning enough dough to keep me in booze while some of my mates took summer jobs at banks or in hospitals. Guess who got jobs and lucrative careers in banks and hospitals after graduating while I worked a few years in shops and bars?

    To those who say I am ignoring the inherent good of a university education for its own sake I say enjoy that myth while you can still afford it.

    Look, there are half a billion well-educated Chinese and Indians out there, much, much hungrier than you and willing to work a lot harder and longer and for less than you are.

    I graduated in 1990 I am the last generation of graduates that could expect to walk into any career they desired by simply showing up at the Milk Round and picking the company they liked and looking forward to a comfortable, not entirely challenging, career and middle-class life-style.

    I wouldn’t fancy being a university student today but if you are and encumbering yourself with debt to be where you are then you really need to buck up now and take a good hard look around you and what you hope to achieve and who it is you are going to be competing against.

    It ain’t pretty.

  • Stewart Finn

    Thanks David, timely post. More and more people are facing this same process. People who previously would never have spent time out of work or would have found a job really quickly are having to compete with hundreds of other qualified (or over qualified) candidates. This also has a knock on effect for people less qualified as they get beaten to the punch by the overqualified candidates, who wont stay in the job long…rinse and repeat.

    Overall things have really changed, not only in terms of competition but also time and stability, with lots more shorter term contracts and people happier to move around jobs. This means even in a job, stability is rare. Personally I have moved jobs 3 times since 2011 either because of short term contracts or to get the position and stability I wanted, luckily I have never found myself out of work (which I put down as much to good fortune as the skills and practices you outline above, I think both are necessary).

    Glad you are channelling your recent disappointment and using it as motivation, I am sure something will come up soon. I think the feedback tip you gave is the key, getting as much information as they are willing to share on how they felt you interviewed. I would also recommend speaking/practising with someone who knows their way around a selection process and interview panel…up to and including getting professional advice if you need or want it.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I think the previous 3 posts say it all (my ‘like’ of LinkedIn is small fry).

    Harry’s chilling appraisal in particular is one that strike’s a chord with me.
    These millions of hungry and determined graduates are something that my industry (drilling) is finally cottoning on to.
    Gone are the days of giving the job to an Anglo just because it is assumed that he would instinctively know how to do things better purely on account of the colour of his skin or golfing ability.

    Indeed, the most lucrative contracts at the moment are the ones that are short term and involve training 10 replacements from China or the Caspian Sea.

    “We give you money, you teach us then you bugger off.”

    It is of course the smart thing to do but from a UK/Irish point of view it is alarming as the door is closing visibly.

    There are lots of contracts (depending on your skill) but the wages can only last so long, there are cheaper replacements sprouting forth from nowhere.

    Also, what industry is there in NI?

    I can’t see a DUP backed whisky-industry renaissance, down south is much more attractive from a tax point of view and ‘carnival season’ doesn’t really sell us to the world.

    Also, apparently criticising fleg-protestors for their impact on business might actually lead to a visit by fleg protestors.

    That would be a great one to explain to Volkswagen if they opened a factory here:

    “Well Mr Schwarz, you see those men who were blocking your drive way and burning the flag of your country, well, apparently they think you’re being unreasonable and ‘genociding’ them so they will visit you to tell you that it’s your fault or the fault of Alliance or SF/IRA. Yes, I know this is not how they do things in Germany. Just remember THEY’RE the victims here, not you…”

    It’s seemingly very much dog-eat-dog in which case all I can say is make sure you’ve got bigger teeth than the next guy.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Gone are the days of giving the job to an Anglo just because it is assumed that he would instinctively know how to do things better purely on account of the colour of his skin or golfing ability.

    Indeed, the most lucrative contracts at the moment are the ones that are short term and involve training 10 replacements from China or the Caspian Sea.”

    Ah yes, the good old days when any bloke who had the necessary pink complexion, a basic ability to speak English and not obviously drunk could expect a life-time of work in the Far East (or anywhere for that matter) are long gone.

    They actually expect us to show up, do a good job and provide some basic service to our employers and customers now.

    It’s hell I tell you.

    The technical trades like drilling, mining etc where men actually have a useful skill to sell do still have many opportunities, which have dried up in financial services, education and media etc., but as you say, even those are going fast.

    It’s a shock but sadly the world doesn’t owe us a living anymore.

  • feismother

    And that “bloke” has also to compete with those pesky women who are qualifying as mining engineers these days too! I know a few working in various parts of the world.

    My three daughters all went to university in England and never came back. Now in their twenties they’re all working in London. Mammy here will be doing the trips to the airport to pick them up at the weekend, keeping her fingers crossed the weather doesn’t disrupt the flights.

  • Ní Dhuibhir

    Absolutely Stewart, the impact of job instability and very short term contracts is huge. When so many people supposedly ‘in work’ are actively looking for work, there’s not much hope for those who haven’t even got that foot in the door. Most of the people I know who have succeeded in getting traditional ‘graduate’ jobs over the last few years are massively overqualified for them. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job at all. The gap in perception between people who have experienced the labour market in recent years and those who haven’t is ridiculous – during the several years I was struggling to find any job lasting more than a few weeks, well-meaning people kept asking things like ‘would you ever think of looking across the water?’ – as if I wasn’t!! When Welfare Reform comes in here, things are going to be seriously grim.

  • Harry Flashman

    “And that “bloke” has also to compete with those pesky women who are qualifying as mining engineers these days too!”

    Of course FM, another aspect of the old jobs for the boys ethos that is rapidly ending, in my neck of the woods the state-owned oil company is run by a woman, and one of the most efficient and least corrupt (well these things are relative) bosses the company has ever had.

    I have every sympathy for anyone looking for a decent, secure, well-paid career today, they simply don’t exist outside of the public service.

    I saw this today:

    It’s bad for the 1960s generation like me but we still are a lot better off than those younger than us, and it isn’t going to get any easier. I think we will look back and view the latter half of the twentieth century as the high-water mark of western society/economics, all the things we took for granted will be gone in 20 years’ time.

  • It’s rare for me to start a comment by saying I completely agree with FitzJamesHorse. But I completely agree with FitzJamesHorse.

    I’m in the middle of recruiting for a fairly responsible position in my own organisation, sifting through 180 CVs for one open post. Almost the first thing I’m looking for is evidence that the candidate has actually read the job advert and understands what we are looking for. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who are just bunging in a CV and standard cover letter for the hell of it. A sheer waste of time on my part and theirs.

    On the other hand, if any of them calls and asks me for feedback when they get the rejection letter, I’ll certainly give it to them. These are serious decisions and people need to be aware of the mistakes they are making, so as to direct their energies better in the future.

    And networking is indeed the key – LinkedIn particularly is becoming very useful for employers, both to cross-check credentials and to see who else may know the candidate.

  • Coll Ciotach

    And from the other side of the table I will be starting a young man in January.

    I got in about 70 CV’s which took me quite some time reading and considering.

    When I whittled this down to 10 probables I started going through facebook and checked their on line persona. So be careful what you are posting, if I do not like what I see I will not employ you no atter how good you are on paper.

    I ended up interviewing 5 candidates all under 25. And I was disappointed. 3 of them had an attitude of entitlement coupled with a complete over estimation of their ability and worth. The world may owe you a living mate but I don’t. These three were graduates. For what that is worth.

    It came down to 2 people – one a graduate and one who left after “O” level.

    I chose the latter.

    He was more clued in about the job, sees to be better rounded as far as old fashioned qualities such as respect, turning up well dressed and polite to people in the organisation, opening doors for women, allowing others through first, (yes, I asked the receptionist and others what they thought).

    I only use CV’s to rule people out, if they have too many activities how can they do overtime, are they in a stable home, (I do not want anyone with problems again Facebook is great and if they are indiscreet on the web what will they be like with my customers).

    All this stuff goes in the mix, ability to do the job is the top line, there are a lot of considerations before I get to the candidates bottom line.

    And by the way – after 10 years of being in business I have never yet had to sack anyone and have had little employee hassle.

  • David McCann


    My mum who is a recruiter always told me that ‘your interview starts from the moment you enter the building.’ I completely agree with your comments about how you conduct yourself.

    I also think the networking thing is key-going in to an interview where someone says ‘I remember you from…’ actually can put you at ease.

    Again I feel it comes down to your attitude if you are positive and engaging things will happen for you at some point.

    I also think that feedback and ending things on a positive note is essential. Employers are busy people and to take 20-30 mins to speak to you is a positive thing.

    The tips given by Fitz, Nick and CC are all really useful.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    As Coll C alluded to a CV won’t get you a job but it will lose you one. I have 100 CVs coming in, 90 will hit the bin with an average time spent of less than 3 minutes on each, some a lot less. Recruiters have better things to be at than reading your life story. The absolute shite many people put on their CVs is unbelievable and the shoddiness has to be seen to be believed.

    It’s a resumé not an autobiography. Keep it sharp, two pages if poss, three absolute max. Make the relevant bits stand out (tailor it from job to job). Anything more can be covered at interview. Remember, you will probably have less than 3 minutes to make an impression with your CV.

  • Son of Strongbow

    It’s been said, but the CV as meandering life story is a killer and goes straight to recycling. Why do so many applicants give the distinct impression that they have not even read the job specs?

    If people can’t be ars..d to tailor their CV, their opening gambit to the potential employer, do they really think that the employer would be given the impression that they that interested in the job in the first place?

    The online profile is regularly checked. It can enhance an application, or kill it stone dead. The Facebook photos of “me in bed pulling another sickie” are not an urban myth.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    SoS makes a good point, it’s important to tailor your CV if only ever so slightly.

    Although all the jobs I’ve applied for are identical or very similar, I nonetheless amend my CV according to their priorities (each company is different).

    Think about which is more important in the eyes of the employer; experience or education and order your CV accordingly.

    I’m at the stage where it’s about experience so I put my work history in first as that will give me the advantage over Mr-Double-First-From-Cambrige-But-Hasn’t-Seen-a-Drill-Rig.

    That was a good tip about not overloading your hobbies and activities.
    I also heard that if you’re an adventure sports type then water it down a bit as no one wants a worker who is always at risk of crippling themselves.

    Now, next pearl of wisdom comes from my boss; he once considered a prospective applicant above all others as she stuck out from the crowd with her hobby, whip-cracking.

    I’m not saying join a circus but it can’t hurt to have something that makes your CV more memorable.

    Your CV is your swinging kick to jar your foot in the door, with that in mind I always tailor it so that the first reader (whom I always assume to be an HR worker-drone) receives maximum info from minimum effort, I imagine that they spend less than 30 seconds on the initial perusals. (could be wrong, but that’s my approach)

    Avoid lengthy paragraphs!

  • babyface finlayson

    I had a similar experience recently trying for a job writing music for advertising.
    So tough.
    It really is a jingle out there.

  • jagmaster

    A crying shame that in the year 2013 a person has to virtually prostitute themselves just so they can get on the first rung of the corporate ladder.

    It’s not even the case that the vast majority of these jobs are beneficial to anyone in the grand scheme of things. In fact if you were cynical you could say all this pointless job hunting was deliberately engineered to keep people busy to stop asking awkward questions about society in general.

  • BluesJazz

    The life of Reilly is documented here:

    As of June 2011, the Northern Ireland Civil Service employed 26,889 staff (out of a total public sector employment of 218,577). The breakdown by department was as follows:[7]



    Office of the First and Deputy First Minister 384
    Department of Agriculture and Rural Development 3,842
    Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure 274
    Department of Education 613
    Department for Employment and Learning 2,109
    Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment 583
    Department of the Environment 2,683
    Department of Finance and Personnel 3,589
    Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety 732
    Department of Justice 1,633
    Department for Regional Development 2,413
    Department for Social Development 7,458
    Public Prosecution Service (non-ministerial) 576
    Northern Ireland Civil Service 26,889

    Other major public sector employers included National Health Service trusts (68,263), schools, colleges and education and library boards (65,514), local government (12,134) and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (10,542). The public sector constituted 31.3% of the region’s workforce.[8]

    A basic Administrative Assistant can make £22k for an hour photocopying, and the rest on facebook. Plus gold plated final salary pension.

    That’s for a C at GCSE English and Maths which a rabbit could pass. Almost as good as the DLA. Except you get free heating, coffee and internet all day (when not on standard 3 weeks sick leave).


  • Harry Flashman

    “A crying shame that in the year 2013 a person has to virtually prostitute themselves just so they can get on the first rung of the corporate ladder.”

    Yes a shame you have to “prostitute” yourself when the world owes you a living innit?

    On the Facebook point, well first of all actually being on Facebook points you out as being a bit of an idiot and someone who clearly has no idea of online security risks, so don’t expect a security-clearance position. Remember you don’t have a Facebook account, Facebook has an account on you.

    Delete it all now, nothing on Facebook makes you look like a winner, pictures of you and your mates on the piss, or what you left behind in the toilet this morning aren’t going to endear you to an employer, trust me on that.

    I remember having to fire a teacher at one place I ran. She was handing out her FB address to her students, mostly Muslim and Christian junior-high school girls. The parents complained that they didn’t think it appropriate to have a teacher who regularly posted photos of her drinking tequila shots, smoking weed and boasting about the size of her boyfriend’s manhood. This girl actually had a teaching degree from a reputable university.

    Believe it or not employers don’t like firing good workers, one of the biggest problems employers have is getting and retaining good workers.

    Perhaps not “career”-related specifically but my old man had a very simple test of determining whether a young fella could work or not, on the first morning he handed the lad a sweeping brush and told him to sweep the front yard. If he went out and got stuck in with both hands on the shaft as he red up the yard, he’d be hired and invariably he wouldn’t let you down, within 18-months he’d already be holding down a responsible position.

    The boy who went out with his shoulders drooping, pushing the brush around with one hand as he sent text messages to his mates (no doubt about the shite job he’d just landed) could safely be told not to return after lunch.

    Maybe that’s prostituting I don’t know but the principle remains the same in any position, show yourself to be keen, eager to get whatever job you’re given done and done well and show a bit of enthusiasm and good humour you’ll be amazed at how far you’ll get in your job.

    But getting the job in the first place, that’s the killer.

  • Alias

    “My mum who is a recruiter always told me that ‘your interview starts from the moment you enter the building.’” – David McCann

    As others have pointed out, potential employers are increasingly using social networking sites to get a bit more insight into potential employees, so the interview probably starts from the moment you post your identity online.

    Ireland is one of the best countries in the world to start a business (low tax, low regulation, loads of free advice, and – yes – even helpful bank managers). For years it ranked as the No 1 country for entrepreneurship and is now ranked at No2.

    If you can’t get a job think about ways to create your own.

  • Alias

    Incidentally, it’s unlikely a recruiter or employer will tell you that they’ll search social networking sites for information about you. They won’t tell you because they run the risk of accessing information that they are not may be legally permitted to consider during the interview process (e.g. sickness, pregnancy, sexual orientation, race, etc) and thereby also run the risk of potential discrimination claims but rest assured (or otherwise) that they are more likely than not to be typing your name into Google

  • IJP

    John ONeill has written one of the best posts I’ve ever seen on Slugger above.

    Every young person should read it!

    Just one other thought – you may not need a job. I’ve been self-employed, relatively successfully, most of my professional life. If you have skills which are useful, get out and offer them, don’t wait for someone to ask! That said, be aware that just because you rate a certain skill you have, doesn’t mean anyone else will. Languages are my passion, yet I ended up in PR and, yup, recruitment!

    I cannot emphasise enough the value of compulsive networking. Get out and meet people and things will happen.

  • augustiner hell

    Did you speak to her Harry, give her a second chance, or did you just fire her?

  • carl marks


    That was a good tip about not overloading your hobbies and activities.
    I also heard that if you’re an adventure sports type then water it down a bit as no one wants a worker who is always at risk of crippling themselves.

    this I know to my sorrow, in my spare time i volunteer for a group that could be described as an extreme activity (search and rescue), I went for an interview (really wanted the job didn’t get it) and was told a little later that while my experience, skills and performance at interview put me in the top 3 i wasn’t passed to the second round as the employer was concerned that in the event of a call out he would have had no choice but to let me respond and wasn’t happy with that.
    So can I add that sometimes it’s better to play down any volunteering you do as well,

  • carl marks

    Harry Flashman
    still in Indonesia?

  • One of the many talents that I have not mastered is the talent to “network”. Frankly I have never really enjoyed engaging with people that I simply dont like.
    But I enjoy watching people “network”.
    The way it seems to work is that category C networkers want to chat with categoryB networkers who only want to chat with category A networkers.
    As I recall Harry Enfield had a character who networked. His line was “Im sorry…I have just seen someone more interesting to talk to.”

    Job or no Job…never ever talk to someone you dont like.

  • BluesJazz

    The simple fact remains that NI is public sector *dependent*. Those that have the opportunity to get a good University education on the mainland will generally stay there and probably do well.
    For those that stay in NI, well , let’s be honest. The Civil Service is Nirvana. Next is the NHS though not quite as easy going nowadays. Then ‘local government’ which is still pretty ok.
    If you cannot get on the civil service gravy train, then it’s call centres or retail. Low wages, no pension, no flexi, and, of course, no annual increments.
    The DLA bypass tap is being slowly turned off.
    At least it’s not raining.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Did you speak to her Harry, give her a second chance, or did you just fire her?”

    The choice wasn’t in my hands, I was merely the message boy of my, and her, employer.

    I live and work in Asia and as I said above Asians don’t believe the world owes people a living. If you break the law of the land, offend against the moral standards of society and bring your employer’s business into disrepute then your employer feels he has the right to stop subsidising your lifestyle. I do realise that we who have grown up in more rights-centred, self-indulgent societies feel that such a society is unjust but we need to get used to it, it is the future.

    Carl I’m in Perth, Western Australia for a while and then I expect to relocate to, maybe, Singapore for my sins.

  • carl marks

    My daughter is just back from Singapore (a year at NUS) met her in Sabah and we went to Flores (good to be able to use my Bahasa again).
    She has a 2/1 in law and South East Asian law, but is knocking out coffee in Starbucks.
    She is faced with a choice follow a career in Starbucks (has been offered promotion) or do a masters, she can’t do both as the demands of both would be impossible to meet.
    A Masters could be her route into academia but again no guarantee of work and a further load of dept.
    I agree with your assessment of Asians, if we are to compete in the global market we are going to have to learn a lot from them.
    Universities in India, China, Malaysia, and Singapore etc. are producing a crop of highly trained and motivated graduates who in general are willing to work harder for less, as you say the days when being a Orang Putih was all the qualification you needed are long gone, I think it’s a good thing.

  • Harry Flashman

    A bit shocked to hear that she can’t get on to the career ladder in Singapore with her qualifications, Carl, has she thought about Oz? WA is still booming although not quite as much as it was a few years back and Perth has a huge Asian population who presumably do a lot of work with their bases back home.

    The old days of dead-beats getting jobs in Asia are gone, no doubt about it, but well-qualified westerners, especially women are still very much sought after. Alas I’d like to give Indonesia a recommendation but whilst I’m still immensely fond of the place right now they’re miles behind their peer nations in Asia and it’s certainly not a place conducive to try and start a career, certainly not for a western woman.

  • augustiner hell

    “The choice wasn’t in my hands,”
    Fair enough, would have seemed slightly out of character judging by your posting over the years. I work in a central european country where a second chance is virtually law, seems to work in the majority of cases. Apologies for straying off topic.

  • JR

    Been self employed for the last five years or so but trying to get back into the job market at the moment and it is tough. Business is still ticking over but due to the completion of a number of my larger contracts business has slowed down. Changes in legislation will also further whittle my busines down. Final straws were clients refusing to pay and not being able to take any time off when my son was born.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    ‘…if you were cynical you could say all this pointless job hunting was deliberately engineered to keep people busy to stop asking awkward questions about society in general.’

    Reckon I must be pretty cynical then.

    Isn’t it striking that ‘recruitment’ is now an industry in its own right? This is a new and novel development. ‘Recruitment’ is an instrument of social control, a weapon in the corporate arsenal, and a diabolically effective one too.

    The tone of most posts here depressingly illustrates the point – what no-one is saying explicitly, but everyone is saying implicitly, is that the only way to get a job nowadays is to show that you are more obedient, servile and thoroughly cowed than the next guy.

    None of this is a law of nature. All of this is an outworking of the brutish ideological system we inhabit, which is designed to turn 99.9% of the population into semi-human drones.

    There are alternatives, though you’d be forgiven for thinking there aren’t.

    The analogy here isn’t with prostitution. It’s with slavery.

    Harry describes paid employment as ‘the employer subsidising his employees’ lifestyle’. And of course rehearses that old cliché about how some people ‘believe the world owes them a living.’

    Here is the authentic voice of the good slave.

    What Harry describes as our ‘more rights-centred, self-indulgent societies’ is what I’d call societies in which great victories – and consequently, freedoms – have been won over tyranny.

    Personally, I’m against the tyrants. Harry isn’t. He thinks we should aspire to becoming more like the third world countries he so admires.

  • Son of Strongbow

    I’ve been to Singapore twice. If it’s a “third world” country my understanding of that designation needs to be radically revised.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Strongbow Óg

    Actually, Singapore, of course, isn’t a country at all. It’s a pre-Westphalian-style city state. And like most city-states, it’s an enclave of huge wealth that has renounced reciprocity towards its desperately poor hinterland. Such entities are always attractive to vultures.

    But incidentally, how are you defining a ‘third world’ country? You know, of course, that ‘third world’ is not a synonym for poor?

    (Clue: The Democratic Republic of the Congo is among the richest countries in the world, whereas Denmark is not.)

  • Son of Strongbow

    If my history serves was Singapore, some time after the British left that is, not voted out of the federation with its “desperately poor hinterland” by that “desperately poor hinterland” itself?

    Small it may be but the Republic of Singapore is indeed a “country”.

    I define a ‘third world’ country as a developing nation. Usually developing from an agricultural society to a more socially and economically diverse society. It is also colloquially understood to suggest a per capita poor citizen income.

    And I see you’re back to this Óg appellation thing again. Why don’t you just fully ditch the Saxon Tongue as opposed to the Shinner-one-or-two-Irish-words approach?

    I promise I’ll google-translate every one of your future missives. Cross my heart.

  • Harry Flashman

    Billy run up the red flag and overthrow the capitalist system, that’ll do the trick. With capitalism in the dustbin of history everyone will be liberated and we’ll all be free, it will be perfect.

    Just ask the Russians and the Chinese (and Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs, Albanians, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Hungarians, Latvians and Cubans etc) how well that worked out.

    I’m not a slave, I am free to work or not work, the choice is entirely mine, if I work I demand that my employer pays me and he is obliged by law to do so.

    Do you have a definition of slavery that I am unaware of?

  • Billy Pilgrim


    I don’t have to ask Russians or Chinese. You have testified yourself about how the society you grew up in was much freer than it is now. You testified yourself that you feel sorry for the generation that has come after yours. The fact is that you grew up in a society that was much less ruthlessly capitalist than the one that now exists. And life was much easier for most people then.

    You even got to enjoy university, and spend those three or four years exploring your own interests and developing your own creative and intellectual capacity. And it wasn’t seen as a luxury then. It was seen as the whole point of education.

    Yet you think it unreasonable that the generations coming after you should have anything like the freedom you had.

    Economists have a name for this phenomenon. They call it ‘pulling up the ladder.’

    And the definition of a slave is someone who is the property of another person or institution.

    Granted there is a difference between chattel slavery and wage slavery. The owner of a chattel slave may feel some responsibility towards his ‘property.’ Whereas a chattel slave is merely a rented commodity.

    A chattel slave is only free to quit, to the extent that he/she can hope to find another, better job elsewhere. (Unless of course they are independently wealthy.) Such freedom is rare today, as every poster on this thread has testified.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    Whereas a WAGE is merely a rented commodity.

    A WAGE slave is only free to quit, to the extent that he/she can hope to find another, better job elsewhere. (Unless of course they are independently wealthy.) Such freedom is rare today, as every poster on this thread has testified.

  • Harry Flashman

    I neither approve of the bad weather they’re having back home today nor do I disapprove of it, I note it as a fact. We may wish to have glorious sunshine, we may regret that it’s colder now than it was back in August but we cannot change simple facts.

    If you have a way of changing global economic conditions to allow the West to enjoy the economic conditions it enjoyed in the 1960s then by all means outline them I’d be fascinated to hear them.

    Meanwhile I will recognise hard global economic facts that exist today and adjust to the new circumstances accordingly.

    However if your economic theories are as contorted (or sub-Marxian) as your definition of very simple, plain, basic, specific English words like “slave” then I won’t be holding out much hope for them actually being of any worth.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    Where’s the contortion in my definition of slave? I said a slave is someone who is the property of someone (or something) else. A very straightforward definition, I’d have said.

    And my observation that the difference between chattel slavery and wage slavery isn’t all that great, is hardly a new or radical one. It’s an argument William Wilberforce made often. It was a favourite theme of Abraham Lincoln too – indeed it was one of the major slogans that swept the Republican Party to victory in 1860

    You know, those ‘sub-Marxians’, the US Republican Party?

  • Billy Pilgrim

    But I do see where your confusion arises. You think that changes in the economy since your youth are like the weather; just nature taking its course, entirely beyond our control.

    But this is far from the truth. The changes you have seen in your lifetime are the consequences of choices made and policies deliberately pursued. They are the consequence of class war being waged against working people. who had been getting out of hand.

    The explosion in university tuition fees, for example, has got nothing to do with economics (the university sector has never been so awash with cash as it is today) but has everything to do with domination and control. The scene described earlier, of a Freshers’ Bazaar doubling as a training ground for spivs and glad-handers, is a predictable consequence.

    Getting pissed for three years, pursuing quixotic quests, reading all sorts of batshit stuff, making mistakes, falling in and out of love, and making lifelong friends, is exactly what university should be about.

    Those who condemn all of the above presumably believe that education is about being drilled into conformity. But education should be about leading out the creative and moral potential of each individual. And that can only happen under conditions of significant freedom. It won’t happen under the kind of intense discipline imposed by the system we have now. Such a system will produce an army of managers, functionaries, bean-counters, commissars.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Ironically, for all the talk about the gazillions of Chinese graduates queuing up to make us all redundant, the Chinese authorities are increasingly conscious of their dearth of creative graduates.

    It turns out that while managers and facilitators have their uses, you do still need originators too. As in, people who can actually think.

    So there won’t be many opportunities for you in Shanghai if you studied business or management or some other functional position. Or even if you majored in the sciences or professions.

    But if you studied philosophy or dramaturgy or Byzantine poetry – well, you can write your own ticket….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Saddly, Billy Pilgrim, after a long career as a “creative” and an “originator”, my experience has been that the overspill from management has already earmarked these job descriptions already. After all, they are the ones who have spent some years learning the answers that the management teams who will be hiring creatives will understand. I watched it happen across the creative industries everywhere after the momentious British election of 1979 and its aftermath.

    And I doubt that the position in Shanghi will prove to be much different for Humanities graduates………..

    “Such a system will produce an army of managers, functionaries, bean-counters, commissars.”

    Yes, exactly what the middle level functionaries of Globalisation recognise, as, blinded by their own narcsssism, they are invariably drawn to their own mirror image.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh, Billy, as someone who has been freelance for much of my life and may just be able to evaluate the degree of freedom any employee actually may deploy, I fully agree with your definition of slavery.

    Harry, although these poor people may be de jure “free” they are still “de facto” existing at the whim of their owners. Just how is the time they are paid for their own? so they are part time slaves, but slaves still!

  • carl marks

    Son of Strongbow (profile)

    19 December 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve been to Singapore twice. If it’s a “third world” country my understanding of that designation needs to be radically revised.

    Certainly would not describe it as a third world country quite obvious onece you step out of the airport.
    And I would love a little India here,

  • carl marks

    Harry Flashman
    She is considering Singapore, perhaps in the legal dept. of a western firm.

  • Harry Flashman

    “She is considering Singapore, perhaps in the legal dept. of a western firm.”

    That would be an excellent move Carl, I’m sure you’d prefer to keep her in Derry but frankly to my mind there simply is nothing to choose between the two rainy island cities, Singapore wins hands down.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Strongbow Óg

    ‘And I see you’re back to this Óg appellation thing again….’


    You choose a moniker which is one big ‘Fuck You Taigs’ and you get upset that I have a little fun with it….

  • Harry Flashman

    “It turns out that while managers and facilitators have their uses, you do still need originators too. As in, people who can actually think.”

    Gee whiz, thank you for pointing out the bleedin’ obvious about Asia, a continent I have been living in for the past decade.

    I said I would adopt to the circumstances accordingly and guess what? That is what I am doing.

    I too realise that trying to compete with the middle-management drones that are being churned out by Chinese and Indian educational establishments would be utterly pointless and that is why I made a very specific choice of school for my kids.

    I did not opt for a rigid, doctrinaire, traditional style school but quite deliberately decided to play to the strengths of my mixed-race children and opted for a much more liberal-arts orientated American school that caters toward creativity and character-building. It is notable that unlike most other fee-paying schools in the city where I live there are very few of the children of the local-Chinese community attending it, they regard the school as too “play” orientated.

    That suits me, my kids are fascinated by art, photography, video making, they have already appeared on TV, I have no plans for them to seek robot-like employment in some factory in an industrial suburb.

    You see what I did? I neither condoned nor condemned the prevailing economic climate, I adapted to it. I don’t sit on my arse complaining that the world isn’t like it was when I were a lad, I accept that the world is changing all the time and make the necessary adjustments.

    By the way I have yet to hear your plans to rejig the entire global economy, any thoughts on that yet?

  • Billy Pilgrim


    Very interesting.

    You have some very artsy-fartsy ideals. Turns out you’re an oul lefty after all.

    Or maybe just, despite the ideology, you’re incorrigibly human.

    I always suspected as much. I’ve always thought, despite everything, that you’re at bottom an irreformably good person. I have hope for you yet.

    As for ideas about reforming the entire global economic system: who do you think I am? Marx? Or Friedman?

    I start with a simpler principle. Those who create wealth should control what they create. Any system based on the domination of a (in this case tiny) minority should be dismantled.

    I know, batshit stuff…

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    “You choose a moniker which is one big ‘Fuck You Taigs’…”

    Billy, not so long ago you were talking about some sort of perception adjustment or such like (with regards to the dual flag idea) to foster some sort of mutual respect for the two main flags.

    Now, could you then implement this live and live method and explain to me calmly and rationally your view of the Anglo & Cambro-Normans.

    I for one see many mixed messages:

    Strongbow – Bad – ‘English’ – Even though I don’t think he (or any of them) could speak English

    Henry II – Bad – Couldn’t speak English and wasn’t particularly fond of the place and spat the dummy out when he heard what Strongbow did.

    Robert De Brus – Scottish – Good

    Edward De Brus – Scottish – Bad (on account of his fighting the ( also French speaking) ‘English’ in Ireland

    William Fitzgerald, Duke of Leinster, founder of Maynooth seminary, Anti Unionist, and father of the ‘offensive’ St Patrick’s cross – Bad

    (his brother) Lord Edward Fitzgerald – United Irishman leader – good – Irish

    For goodness sake, my avatar is a mixture of Scottish and Irish nationalism and both owe their existence to the Normans (apart from the hand).

    So, was Strongbow really THAT much of a “fuck you taigs” when the people who bore the brunt of his wrath were Norse/Danes?

    These people were Gangsters in chainmail; from Ireland, Britain to France, Sicily and the holylands, their mission was the same:
    Wealth and power at the expense of anyone else, including each other.
    They weren’t some sort of oppressive hive mind that Irish nationalism appears to suggest.

  • carl marks

    That would be an excellent move Carl, I’m sure you’d prefer to keep her in Derry but frankly to my mind there simply is nothing to choose between the two rainy island cities, Singapore wins hands down.

    I don’t live close to Derry (but it’s a fun city) and i agree Singapore is perhaps much more dynamic, and your right if I had my way she would still be living at home.
    However I have told her that if she moves to Singapore, them when we (her parents ) retire we will move a bit closer always had a fondness for Penang myself.

  • Harry Flashman

    Penang’s a lovely spot Carl (where did I get the idea you were from Derry?) and Malaysia has very appealing programs to attract western pensioners, a very wise move.

    Of course I still miss dirty, dreadful, traffic-clogged, smelly Jakarta, but I’m just odd that way.

  • Harry Flashman

    “You have some very artsy-fartsy ideals. Turns out you’re an oul lefty after all.

    Or maybe just, despite the ideology, you’re incorrigibly human.

    I always suspected as much. I’ve always thought, despite everything, that you’re at bottom an irreformably good person. I have hope for you yet.”

    Nah, but I do have to grind my teeth as I sit through the multi-culti, celebrate diversity, “what is the colour of your wind?” school shows but I can then go back and harumph into my gin and tonic about the good oul’ days when Christian Brothers ran schools with the proper amount of thrashings and occasional child deaths.

    Life was so much simpler then.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Billy, Billy, Billy, oh what am I going to do with you?

    Firstly I should point out that I’m not at all “upset” with your Ógist ways; other than my natural inclination against half-ar**d approaches (sorry to pull the MOPE blanket from beneath your feet). My response was a plea to you to fully embrace your nationalism and post in Irish.

    I’m dismayed, though I confess not overly surprised, that you interpret my embracing of my Cambro-Norman antecedents as “Fuck You Taigs”. I fear you’re allowing your Irish nationalist cultural supremacist views to cloud your judgement.

    I suppose I could top and tail my posts with a ‘bonjour’ and an ‘au revoir’ to make my point, I could even address you as ‘Billy Pilgrim, mon chérie’. But to my way of thinking that would be a bit silly given that I live in an English speaking area (and also probably historically incorrect given that I’m not using Middle French).

    That being said I don’t wish to legislate for others, if you wish to employ Irish please do, but why the halfway house thing? After all google translate will help out we lesser mortals to understand your bon mots.

  • carl marks

    only spent a month in Jakarta, hated the place, and of course Indonesia is not the place for a Noni Baret!

    SOS andBP,
    cheers you took a good thread about the modern job markey and brought in the Fucking Normans!
    good one boys any chance of leaving this one to the grown ups.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Noni Baret”

    Wow, not just Bahasa Indonesia but Bahasa Sunda no less, my missus would be very impressed particularly as I haven’t picked up a word of Sundanese in all my time married to her, well it saves me having to talk to the mother-in-law, doesn’t it?

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Indeed, SoS. Don’t forget to embrace your Gaelic-Norman descendants as well, Hiberniores Hibernis Ipsis I think was how it was described it nó nios geallaí ná na Gaeil féin mas fearr leat.

    It’s seems to be taking a bit longer with the last lot who came over but you never know!

  • PaddyReilly

    A friend of mine, immediately on leaving school, was taken on by the civil service to do stats. This was in the 1970s, when there were still jobs about. For the first week or two, possible even a month, he did them honestly enough, but after that he got bored and just altered them slightly from the previous week. This reduced his week’s work to about two hours: apart from that he read novels and took four hour lunch breaks.

    After five years of this pointless existence he took A levels and went to University. However on leaving University— we are now in the mid 80s—he found himself totally unable to get any of the jobs he applied for, because though qualified he was lacking experience in the field. His girlfriend was now harassing him to contribute more to the household, so he applied for a stats job. There were 500 applicants, but he got the job. He spent 3 months hacking into the firm’s computer, and then left the country altogether, for somewhere where they have a more imaginative hiring policy.

    From this story I draw several conclusions.

    1) There has been a good deal of unhelpful Empire building in ‘Human Resources’, in that jobs of the lowest grade are advertised nationwide rather than just in the local job centre. Computers too, do not help. So HR have carved a niche for themselves interviewing hundreds of pointless applicants for low grade jobs (this one did not require A levels even). They are also spectacularly incompetent as they hired the last person in the world to perform the job competently.
    2) The Conservative government is stoking the fire by insisting on ‘job-seekers’ making ever greater numbers of job applications. I once had a job a major part of which was deleting speculative cvs.
    3) There is a kind of job inflation going on which compares to house price inflation. Horrible hovels which in other countries would be demolished now attract wealthy buyers. Hundreds of people apply for a job which is boring beyond compare.
    4) Those who attended the University of Life, as well as personnel officers, assign excessive merit to ‘experience’. This was a job which a school-leaver could learn to do in a day, and which 5 years of experience would not make you do any better, in fact it caused this person’s performance to get worse. Loads of jobs are so simple that experience is not needed. Demanding it creates a new class of serfs.
    5) There are business opportunities out there exploiting the workless. If you could find a way of taking a minimal tariff from every job applicant (say, a 1st class stamp) you could run a whole bureau of non-existent jobs and there would still be so many applicants you would get rich.
    6) There are business opportunities out there exploiting the unimaginative employer. You just need to set up a string of bogus employers who testify to the experience gained in their establishment by a needy applicant, allowing them to get jobs.
    7) Actually these probably exist already. A survey of local job bulletins does not reveal a single job, even something as simple as shelf stacking, which does not require ‘experience’. How society can continue when no-one is allowed to do things for the first time is not explained. Perhaps women should not be allowed to have babies unless they already have experience of doing so. Someone must be telling and getting away with enormous lies.

  • Just to pick on two minor points:

    PaddyReilly: The Conservative government is stoking the fire by insisting on ‘job-seekers’ making ever greater numbers of job applications. I once had a job a major part of which was deleting speculative cvs.

    Absolutely. I am dubious about whether it is worthwhile the state demanding that jobseekers show metrics of their efforts, but if it is to do so at all, the sheer number of speculative applications submitted surely should not be taken seriously. Far better to spent the time simply in quiet reflection of what job you might actually want and how to get it.

    Carl Marks / Harry Flashman: as it happens my father was born in Penang, in 1928; never been there myself though. A Malaysian kid at school told me it was known as “The Pearl of the Orient”.

  • carl marks

    Oh go to Penang, stay in Georgetown, go to the red garden great food, make sure u maken jalan (eat at the street stalls) and the Malays lovely people.

  • Circa 1973…the mantra was that “its not what you know…its who you know”. Civilised Society thought that was a bad thing.
    Anti-Discrimination laws were needed to change the culture.
    Networking has undermined that.
    2013…..its not what you know…its who you know.
    And somehow Civilised Society considers it to be a good thing.

  • Harry Flashman

    The naval base at Penang (where I presume your dad was stationed) is still there, it is a Malaysian naval base today. You can still get a taste of the colonial past in Penang, although it is now mostly tourist hotels along the beach.

    The entire Malay archipelago, including Indonesia, is a fascinating and mostly unexplored part of the world and as Carl says you’ll be hard pressed to find nicer people.

    It’s funny how tourists descend en masse to places like Thailand and simply ignore what is one of the most beautiful places on earth a few hundred miles south. Outside people’s comfort zones I suppose.

    I had a cousin, a young lass of about twenty I think who had landed in Singapore, she asked could she come and visit me. I told her of course but she mistakenly believed I was in Singapore and when I told her I was an hour’s flight south in Indonesia and to come on down she said Indonesia just wasn’t on the itinerary and instead she was going all the way up to Vietnam.

    Indonesia really doesn’t feature on the tourist radar, it seems to have an entirely undeserved reputation as a somewhat dark and sinister place when absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Harry,

    I just might be that their tourism ministry, if they have such a beast, is not being active enough in promoting it. I have a nephew living and working there for 12 years or more. He loves it and even married a local girl.

  • Harry Flashman

    Certainly the tourism ministry does do some incredibly brainless things like spending 80% of its advertising budget on local media campaigns and it has a hard time competing against “Incredible India” or that stroke of genius “Malaysia Truly Asia”.

    However fundamentally I think the problem is largely a simple lack of recognition of Indonesia as a country. I often notice it in news reports that describe a shipwreck discovered “off the coast of Java”, or forest fires “in Sumatra”, or orang-utans “in the jungles of Borneo” (never Kalimantan), or hotel accommodation “in the tourist island of Bali” without ever mentioning that these places are in a country called Indonesia. Odd considering it is the fourth biggest country in the world.

    I remember picking up a tourist brochure for exotic SE Asia destinations in a travel agent’s in Derry. The pages were colour-coded by country, Thailand red, Philippines green, Vietnam blue etc except for the purple pages which were for “Bali” rather than Indonesia.

    I think it might relate back to the Soeharto era when everyone in the west was taught to believe that Indonesia was in some way the embodiment of evil or something and they haven’t moved on.

    Anyway, we appear to have well and truly pulled this thread off-topic.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    “Anyway, we appear to have well and truly pulled this thread off-topic.”

    Fittingly so Harry, we’ve went from a metaphorical jungle to a real one.

    (and by the sounds of it a pretty one at that, I’m only ’round the corner’ so might have a looksee. Bali be damned)