Month: May 2013

Government Job Interviews

The unemployment saga continues.

My partner and I applied for two government positions recently.  We both interviewed for the same position approximately one month ago.  We were both invited to interview for another position this week, although this position is of a slightly higher pay grade than the last one.

At the end of the first interview one of the people on the panel told my partner, somewhat rudely, that he had “a lot of research experience”, but that the position wasn’t a research-oriented position.  Translation: “Find a research job”. But there are no research jobs.  And he’s tried, and tried, and tried (see my other post: ” Underemployed with the Government“).

We were also told that we would be informed as to whether we would be offered the position in “approximately two weeks”.  Of course neither one of us was told anything either way, as we’ve noticed is typical of potential employers to just ignore a person following a job interview if the potential employer is not interested. So we both went into the interview this week having absolutely no idea as to whether we were still being considered for the other position or not.  I have a fair bit of experience, but my partner has a lot of very relevant education and experience for the positions, and really, there isn’t much possibility that there could be anyone more qualified for either job if you ask me.

Many of the questions asked during the previous interview we had were repeated for this week’s interview.  I should also mention that the interview panel was 15-20 minutes late in calling me, and no one thought to apologize or give a reason as to why. At the end, I asked the panel if any candidate was chosen for the other position (first one for which we interviewed).  They replied that no decision was made and that I would be informed later but I should still send in my references in case they decide to consider hiring me for the position (sure).

A few hours later, both my partner and I received an e-mail informing us that we were unsuccessful in obtaining the last position, but that we should still go ahead and apply for future positions.  Translation: “Thanks for being qualified enough to apply so we can waste your time interviewing you for two positions, even though we already know who we want to hire”.  I especially liked that the person who answered my question about whether anyone had been hired yet, lied to my face (okay, over the telephone), as in actual fact a decision had been made with respect to who was offered the position.  When the folks on the panel realized that they hadn’t actually bothered to inform all of the candidates as I pointed out to them, they sent an e-mail as promised.

What’s funny is that part of the interview consisted of behavioural type questions, for, you know, collecting information about how well a candidate would work with others.  Well, a good way to build a relationship with other people is by not lying to them.  But since they can’t even follow their own rule or do their own jobs, I don’t understand how anyone should be expected to work with such hypocrites.  But, since they know they have the monopoly on good pensions, benefits and overall job security, they know people are clamouring to get their feet in the door and alas, they do whatever the hell they want.

Honestly, people should just be appointed to positions because government hiring managers operate like everyone else and will just hire the person they like/know anyway.  It’s a waste of time for both sides to pretend to consider all the candidates, and frankly, at the end we just end up feeling used in the process since we know our qualifications don’t count for shit.  Please, just make nepotism and cronyism acceptable practices.  It is way more efficient.

It’s why we’re screwed.

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Underemployed with the Government

I am writing this post on my partner’s behalf.

My partner is a very well educated and accomplished person.   He was able to speak two languages and knew some English before immigrating here fifteen years ago; however, he wouldn’t have considered himself fluent in English at that time.  He carries out research on topics in which, for many reasons, our government should be very interested.

He completed a doctorate and post-doc with the government, and due to a lack of funding for jobs, he wasn’t able to secure full time employment.  As a result, he continued to work on post-doc funding for far too long.  After two years into his post-doc, his supervisor was scrambling to fund it ($20K-$30/year).  He was asked by management to become a citizen under the pretext that it would make the process of obtaining full-time employment “faster”.  At one point, he was told by a director, that it would take less time to hire him if he was “Chinese”.

Managers talked a lot about creating a position for him, but no one ever got around to actually doing it.  The best he could do was to start a consulting business and work on contract.  Managers were happy to keep renewing his contracts, since he was doing good work. He was even putting their names on his research publications.

Also, during his time on contract, he was overlooked for full-time employment in another federal agency; he watched other people with the same qualifications and less experience obtain full time employment within newly created positions, and he completed tasks, including translation of government communications, for free.

A few years ago, my partner wrote a four-hour exam and completed a two-hour interview (with another test) to qualify himself to be in a group of people who may later be called upon to work for the government.  If he was ever called to work (this obviously still has not happened), the position he would fill would still be far below his level of qualification.

The reason that I am writing this post, is that, just this week, the government decided to post an ad for an even lower-tiered position than the one for which he is pre-qualified.  He is waiting to see whether he will have to write another exam for it.

I read a lot about college graduates becoming disillusioned with their job prospects; however, when you spend many years completing a doctorate and post-doc, and spend many more years experiencing underemployment, that’s much worse.  Funding for scientific research (and subsequently research positions, especially in our country) continues to  be sorely limited.  I suppose it’s best for everyone to become computer programmers or MBAs.

It’s why we’re screwed.

Okay, we’re not completely screwed.  The world is a big place, and when the right opportunity comes up elsewhere, we will jump on it.  The waiting is the hard part.

Unemployment Update – Part 3

After another week of no one calling me from the unemployment benefits office, I am happy to say that I made a complaint last week regarding the exceptionally poor service I received from my government with respect to unemployment insurance.  I sent a detailed complaint by filling out a web form on the government website, so I wasn’t sure if my complaint would end up lost somewhere in internet purgatory. I was pleasantly surprised that someone from the unemployment complaints department actually called me back, a few hours after I had written the complaint and pressed the ‘send’ button.

A few days later, I received a call from a unemployment representative, who was extremely nice to me.  After almost four (that’s right, four) months of waiting, I finally received my unemployment benefits in full, thank you very much.

Now I will actually be able to focus on finding the right job in the meantime and, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to do when I go back to school.  And I know it could be much worse for me, with some European countries approaching the 27% mark for unemployment, I am probably in a much better position than many other people living within wealthier countries.

See?  I’m not a “glass is half empty” person all the time.  I didn’t end my blog post by writing, “it’s why I am screwed” this time, even though I was royally screwed by having to wait four months to get my unemployment payments.  Perhaps in this case it’s more like, “it’s why I was screwed”.