Thursday, 1 August 2013

Apply with Caution - Adventures in Job seeking

I commenced writing this blog  when I lost my last job.  My dismissal came about because I received a police caution and I declared this caution at work.  Although the crime was not connected, or as far as I was concerned, bore any relation to the work I was doing, I felt the decision was harsh.  My conduct was deemed inappropriate despite the fact that there had been no issues with my conduct prior to my declaration.

I shared with my then employers, my whole back story and the context in which I gained the caution believing/hoping that they would understand.

They didn’t.

Since then, I’ve been searching furiously for work.  I can get plenty of volunteer roles.  People seem to want to make full use of my skills, talents and experience for free.  However, when it comes to paid work, no-one wants to take a gamble on me.

Most application forms ask for a declaration of criminal convictions.  Some also ask for warnings/cautions etc as well.  I’m not totally convinced whether prospective employers actually appreciate the difference between a conviction and a caution either.  If I get to an interview and  there’s possibility that my caution will be revealed in post-interview checks, I volunteer the information to the interview panel.

Usually on the forms, there’s a disclaimer stating that your conviction/caution will not be a factor in my potential recruitment.  When I’ve declared it to an interviewer, I’ve always been thanked for my honesty and told that my application will be judged on its merits and my caution will not influence the overcome.

However, I tend to receive the following feedback:

“We liked you as a person, you gave a strong interview BUT because of your caution we don’t want to take a chance.”

When I reveal my caution to prospective employers, I also tell them the context in which I received it and this has led me to question myself whether they really believe my testimony.

There I am, a big burly chap sitting in front of them, telling them that I was a victim of Domestic Violence and my caution was result of my befuddled attempts to try and minimise the conflict at home.    Do they really believe that men can be victims and affected by Domestic Abuse?  I fear they don't.

The reality is that I know that , without any blemish on my record, I would walk into  the vacancies I’m applying for without any problem.

Prior to receiving the caution, I was offered every job that I’d been called to be interviewed for.  Post caution, nothing.

All I can do is stay positive, keep knocking on doors and believe that very soon someone will take a chance on employing me.

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