In the current epidemic of job unemployment, I was reminded of my job search in the past.
Two years ago, signing on for the first time at the job centre, I was astonished by the attitude of the first advisor that I met. It did not bode well for the future of my job search.
Sitting in front of the lady, I told her about my job searches in the previous two weeks – consisting of visits to internet job sites for media companies, along with a search within media publications.
However, the first question she asked me was: “Can you drive?”
I confirmed that I was indeed the proud owner of a driving licence.
Nodding her head in patronising approval of this ‘achievement’, she asked, “Do you know the area of Reading well?”
Whilst I do, I was uncertain about the questions that the advisor was asking. I was embarrassed when she informed me rather sharply that she was searching for van driving jobs.
As I bit my tongue, I was told that there were no van driver vacancies.
“How much can you hear?”
I started to explain that I was unable to hear on the telephone, but had worked in administration before, when she cut me off.
“That’s office work off the books then. What about cleaning experience?”
Bringing her to a stop, I asked her through gritted teeth whether she had looked at my C.V. and my education history.
“Oh! You have a C.V.? How many GCSEs did you get? Four or five?”
Had she looked at my details, she would have seen that I had just graduated from university with a 2:1 degree and had worked in office jobs before.
Upon reading on her computer screen that I did indeed have a solid education under my belt and work experience, she looked at me in astonishment.
“But… you’re deaf?”
Seeing the look on my face (and I imagine, steam spurting from my ears), a manager swiftly intervened and queried if we were okay.
With choice words, I explained to the manager how I was amazed that they were employing people to advise people on job hunting when they, themselves, seemed to be absolutely clueless.
Fortunately for the health of the advisor, he asked her to leave and took over the interview. The visit to the Job Centre then passed more smoothly and I left quite a bit calmer than I’d been ten minutes earlier.
The lady? She lost her job.
Luke Blackburn is a budding film maker who enjoys shouting at the rugby on TV in his spare time. Follow him on Twitter as @lukeblackburn
The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella, the National Deaf Children’s Society’s Look, Smile Chat campaign, and the National Theatre’s captioned plays.