I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to get back into the world of work after quitting my job.
I had thought that I would get better quicker if I didn’t feel under pressure to return to my old job however money began to run out very quickly as I was self funding my private healthcare. Eventually I faced up to the fact that I would need to make my way back into the workforce but it proved to be harder than I thought it would be.
My first problem was explaining not only my career break but also my desire to change career too. Initially I applied for jobs that I thought I was qualified and capable of but after 20+ rejections I began to broaden my applications and as time went on and money got tighter I began to apply for absolutely anything but all I had to show for it was an ever inreasing pile of rejection letters.
Eventually I got a break – whilst registering with an employment agency an urgent job request came through for a temporary office clerk post and as I was available immediately they sent me along for an interview that afternoon.
The office turned out to be a set of portakabins on the outskirts of an industrial estate and the place was in quite a state of disarray. When I arrived there was paper lying all over the floor, the photocopier was sounding an alarm and the phone was ringing off the hook as the men in the office were huddled round a pc monitor looking perplexed. Another man then came in looking very harassed, he introduced himself as “B” the Manager and explained that he would be interviewing me, he then apologised for running late and invited me into his office.
B asked me some standard questions and I told him about my job history. Unsurprisingly B was somewhat skeptical about why I was applying for an entry level post given my previous experience, I had expected this and was prepared to give him a carefully rehearsed speil when the door burst open and a young man came in with a cordless phone in hand babbling about someone in the head office going “raj” because the payroll run hadn’t been sent through. B sighed heavily and told the young man that he would sort it out when he was finished. I decided to throw caution to the wind and discarded my well crafted answer in favour of the truth and said, “The truth is I need a job, I have been unemployed for a while after a bout of ill health but I am getting back on my feet now and I need to start earning money. It looks to me like we would be doing each other a favour if you hired me, I need a wage and you clearly need help here as you guys are in a right pickle and I can fix this for you.” B laughed, said that I clearly had “a set of balls” and asked if I was able to start immediately.
I began working there that very afternoon, my duties were to “sort the office out” and that is exactly what I did. After a few weeks I began to make improvements to processes in the office and things became much more efficient, it was quite a challenge as many it was an all-male office and many of them had very poor PC skills but I soon learned how to swear like a trooper and won the staff over by helping them with thier IT issues.
Within 6 weeks I became a permanent member of staff and a few months later I was promoted to the post of Office Manager with a healthy rise in salary and a very generous Christmas bonus to boot. I began to take on bigger process-improvement projects and also began to shadow some of the QS team members with a view to becoming an apprentice QS and I was really enjoying it. Unfortunately it all came to a grinding halt after 2 wonderful years; it was a Friday morning and we were all summoned to the meeting room where B delivered the devastating news – the company had lost a lot of money and as a result were looking to cut costs. One of the cost cutting exercises was to close all satellite offices and centralise operations at the head office which was some 200 miles away. We were told that we would all be offered a relocation package or we could resign from our posts. We were all sent home to think about our options and discuss them with our families before returning with our decision on Monday morning.
I didn’t need to discuss it with C, I knew I didn’t want to move away from where we were but I was devastated that I was about to become unemployed again when I had just begun to get somewhere.
When we returned on Monday we each met with HR and discussed our decisions with them. It was a very muted day and morale was low all that week. We were then given the timelines for the office shut down process and to cheer us all up the Manager told us we could have a party in the office on our final day. The party was excellent fun and we all promised to stay in touch – which we have despite the fact we were all scattered to the four winds when the office was closed.