Two down and one to go.
The transfer of children from dependents to independents is an amazing transition, not just for the wallet, but also for the ego.
A doctor friend once told me that children are never ours; it is our duty as parents to bring them up right and set them free.
Unfortunately, the “setting free” bit has taken rather longer than anticipated. Our children have been both amazed and dismayed at the job application process. CVs had been written (and designed by the techie eldest), covering letters completed and then applications sent off. Hundreds of them, usually via email in response to online ads. Almost 99.9% of them elicited no response at all, not even an acknowledgment. Despondency set in.
As for recruitment, I put an advert on the Indeed website for a part-time marketing co-ordinator and within a week had over 100 applications of varying quality and appropriateness.
Although audacious, I find it truly baffling that someone still in sixth form, or a factory worker, forklift driver or barman could imagine that they are suitable qualified for such a role. However, each and every one get a reply, however brief. And because I am an interfering woman, I sometimes cannot resist sending back a little advice.
One lady sent me a covering letter so filled with spelling and grammar mistakes that I was in the process of deleting it when I noticed that she had completed a degree in English. When I pompously pointed out some of the errors in a reply, she responded: “Well I did it in a hurry on my phone and it was a degree in English Literature not Language”. Unbelievable.
I find myself muttering under my breath about “the youth of today” as many people find it acceptable to use a small ‘i’ whenever they refer to themselves. Maybe it’s just very trendy and I am so out of touch (my youngest would agree).
If only applicants would think out of the box. What on earth is wrong with good old-fashioned bribery? I am now thinking of setting up an agency to find work for people…I’ll be an independent Jobcentre Plus without the nasty orange logo and maybe with labradors, rather than the breeds of dogs you more typically see tied up outside.
My brilliant children have both found jobs, but only with heavy interference, cloaked as encouragement, from a nagging mother.
My daughter is now a commercial photographer in Oxford and my son is working as a designer. I am not going to tell you my secret weapon, but it did not involve nepotism, blackmail or going to Eton.
You have to find a way for your children to stand out among all the CV drivel that comes over the internet. The eldest did at one point, while in London, negotiate his way past security in a design company and ask to see the managing director. He didn’t get to see him but he did leave a wacky CV while wearing his trademark flip-flops. I do wish that some of my applicants would show such cheek.
His footwear has also proven an advantage in the job he ended up taking in Newcastle. On his first day he was approached by a manager who questioned him as to the casualness of his foot attire. He said that as his interview had been conducted in flip-flops, he had thought that his dress code would be appropriate. The guy nodded and walked off. He was then informed that it was, in fact, the big boss who’d approached him. As one of 120 designers, he is on course to be either be noticed or sacked.
Although he would have loved to work in London and, I am sure, will head there before too long, he cannot afford to do so yet. A starting wage of £23,000 in Newcastle, where rents are £300-400 a month for a lovely flat next to the Tyne, compared with a grotty flat in London, at the end of a long, crowded tube line for £600-£800 a month.
He has a short drive to work or can cycle and a pint of good beer is only £2.20. In London, graduates really need to earn £28,000+ for even a barely decent style of independent living. He also has an overdraft to pay off. After three months in Newcastle he could head south, debt free. No wonder companies are moving to Newcastle from London.
Our commute, meanwhile, is two minutes and is the huge benefit of working on site. We are, however, allowed to escape sometimes and are heading off on Sunday (22 February) to the Farma conference in Bedfordshire. It’ll be three days of farm shop tours, motivational speakers, an awards dinner and a trade show – so much food for thought.
Catch me there to enquire about my very inexpensive job search company for your darling, costly, children – it’s worth every penny.
Sally Jackson and husband Andrew farm 364ha just outside Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire. They have a farm shop, The Pink Pig Farm (a former winner in the diversification category of the Farmers Weekly Awards), with a 90-seater café and farm trail. Sally is chairman of the Farmers’ Retail and Markets Association (Farma).