lifestyle

She's smart and hard-working. So why can't she get a job?

This is not Nicola. However she would also like a job.

by NICOLA MORIARTY

For the past few years, I’ve been a stay-at-home mum / student / writer / small business owner (okay, okay, I make gift hampers at Christmas time for clients who are mostly related to me). When I received the news that I was going to become a published author, I thought all my financial worries would be over.

I wasn’t so naive that I thought I was going to become an E L James million dollar success – but I did think that a two book deal from Random House would at least give our household enough extra cash for me to continue staying at home, writing and studying.

Wrong.

I keep an XL spreadsheet with all of our predicted incoming and outgoing expenses for up to a year in advance – this way I can see ahead of time if we’re going to run into any troubles. Recently, there has been far too many red numbers on this spreadsheet.

Regardless of how much I manipulated the numbers, played around with the budget and pushed bills back – I couldn’t get us out of the red. The more I looked at all of those figures with little minus symbols in front of them – the faster I started to breathe. But really, the answer was simple, it was time to get a job – one that gave me a regular, reliable income.

My first thought was that I would put my children into full-time child care and get a full-time job, so that we could really get ahead. But one day while I was visiting my parents, my dad sat down at the kitchen table with me and said very seriously, “Nic, you’ve got deadlines to meet for your book, a uni degree to finish, and two children. How are you going to manage with a full-time job as well?” “Oh, I’ll make it work,” I said. “No, really, how are you going to manage?” he persisted. I burst into tears, “I don’t know!!” I wailed, “But I don’t know what else to do!” He convinced me to at least look for a part-time job instead, and offered to lend me some money to get us through in the meantime.

So I started applying for jobs. In the beginning, I was looking for jobs where I could use my skills as a writer. Entry level copywriting positions, part-time online content producer jobs. The response from advertisers: Nada. I moved on to marketing positions instead, I have a diploma in marketing and before I left the full-time work force to become a mum, I used to work (once upon a time) as a sales and marketing coordinator.  I thought I could easily snap up a position as a part-time marketing assistant. The response from advertisers? Zip.

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Finally I decided to give up on all these interesting jobs that I thought I would be more than qualified for and moved on to customer service / administration style roles. I thought I would pick up one of these in a cinch. I have plenty of customer service and office experience. The response to my applications? You guessed it…. Silence. Crickets chirping. Tumble weed blowing in the breeze.

At this point, I was starting to get fed up. I’m intelligent (and ahem, modest?). I have a great work ethic. I think my résumé looks brilliant. I have a diploma and I’m just about to finish up my university degree. I have years of experience in several different industries.

So what is it about me that’s making these companies cast my application aside? Did I misspell ‘attention to detail’? And more importantly, what happened to the day when people used to at the very least acknowledge your application? I get it, people are busy, time is poor. But is it so hard to email out a standard form letter – ‘thanks for your application but I’m afraid you haven’t hit the mark this time around’ – just something so that I know my application didn’t just vanish into the ether. Maybe a kind word to bolster my confidence? Isn’t it just a bit of common courtesy? Or is that not the way the world works any more? Maybe I really have been out of the work force for a bit too long.

After several months of job hunting, I’ve decided to give up for a while and focus on my writing instead. I can’t take the rejection (or lack thereof) any more. Maybe my next book could be the fifty shades of grey phenomenon I was hoping for with my first book. And for now, I’ll just try to buy more supermarket brand products when I do my grocery shopping, and maybe save takeaway Thai for special occasions only. I’m also avoiding looking at my spreadsheet – because it will only make me start hyperventilating again.

Nicola Moriarty is a writer, student and mum from Sydney’s north west. Her debut novel Free-Falling was released in February of this year and she is currently working on her second novel. Find her website here.

Do you think businesses should respond to all job applications? Or do you think it’s just too difficult to let everyone know that they weren’t successful?