Posted in rant, work, Writing

I hate writing Covering Letters!

I write a lot. I have nearly two Masters degrees, one in Creative Writing, and yet, I absolutely loathe needing to write Covering Letters for jobs. But, given that I am a writer, I thought it might be worthwhile to discuss the relationship between the jobs world and writing.

What is a Covering Letter?

Covering letters are used to set you apart from a slew of uncovered CV’s, it is a chance to sell yourself to the company and attract the employers attention onto all of your shiny skills and qualifications. But despite there being many examples online, everyone handles them differently and they can vary a lot. Essentially, you are explaining why you should be considered for the role, what relevant experience you have that makes you suitable for it, and a sprinkling of X-Factor (not the show) additions. If you are applying for a busy international hotel, can you speak more than one language? This would be a helpful extra. Are you applying to work in a restaurant and already have Food and/or Health and Hygiene certificates? Then add these in here to show how you are prepared for the job.

The Vicious Circle of Experience
The issue affecting so many young people nowadays is the lack of relevant or any experience is preventing them from getting jobs, and thus experience. I suffered this for many years, with only my work-experience from a bookshop when I was 14. Many years later I applied for a job I was made for, but I was short-listed to second place (I didn’t know at the time) and initially was rejected for the position – the interviewer informed me the girl who got the job simply had more retail experience than me.

It’s a waiting game, albeit a painful and often expensive one. I’ve had my share of humiliating jobs where I counted down the minutes until I could move on or they ended. Unfortunately, humiliation seems to have become the norm now. Forcing anyone to work for free in order to receive their benefits is like taking us back to the days of the workhouses. The job centres insist that people do the worse, most labour-intensive, low reward temporary jobs without pay so they can clear them off their own systems for a few weeks, before the people are back still in much the same position. Let’s be real, how much work experience is someone on a four week trial going to get? I know people who have done it, most were just asked to clean shelves and did nothing retail related because there’s no trust from the employers and only suspicion trying to figure out why a person of X age is in this situation. And they still expect you to keep looking for other work.

My advice for those caught in this circle? Just keep trying, but don’t take any shit. If you fall into the 18-24 bracket make a pro-con list of things you could or would like to do and of the things you absolutely won’t do. If you really hate talking on phones (you’ll sort of eventually tolerate it by adulting) but don’t ever feel forced to work in a call centre just because they implore you to, unless the pay outweighs your phone phobia. Don’t refuse work because you want weekends out with the troops; accept that there will be weekends of work and you’ll enjoy weekends off all the more.

If further study is something you’re interested in then go to careers services (Skills Development Scotland, up here) or ask advice from the job centre about your options. Even if you are in receipt of benefits there are still ways to return to education without messing up your finances. Always ask for help if and when you need it. Don’t quieten down and be rushed out the door, everyone deserves a chance to do something they love. Don’t let your past, background or upbringing allow others to determine your future. I’ve had it all. Been there and back a thousand times and didn’t even get a lousy tee-shirt for the effort. Even as recently as last year I had a JC adviser mansplaining applications to me, criticising my CV, my work history, my ability, assuming that my address had any correlation to who I am as a person. Until he glanced further down my CV to see the pretty little MA stamped next to education and suddenly, visibly changed how he spoke to me and dealt with me. Pathetic – no one should be treated less because of a lack of a qualification or letters after their name, neither should anyone be treated more humanely because they do.

I digress. But my point is that job hunting and attempting to find the golden role is not a glamorous nor fun experience. It is made more difficult by a right-wing government targeting the very groups of people the Welfare state was built to protect. The Welfare state being that people unable to work, temporarily or not, would be in receipt of enough money to live off of. Enough money, not cut-to-the-bone and not-backdated-tory-bloodmoney, but enough for people to still feel and be human and a part of society, not forced to the extreme fringes and expected to live on nothing. 

I promise I will dig into these points at another time. For now, I wish everyone luck if you are trying to find work and strength to those already in work.

Let me know if you’ve any other tips on writing covering letters, or if you hate writing them as much as I do.

e x

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Posted in Musings

Freezing

So it’s almost the end of August but Scotland hasn’t realised that it’s technically still summer… Back to the ice age for us, sadly.

I’m sitting here trying to do work and read but keep getting distracted by recipes and studyspo on Pinterest. Alas, there’s always tomorrow.

Did I mention I’m cold? I’m wearing my Harry Potter pj set (jumper and long trousers) and my little bear slippers because it’s so damn cold. It’s probably a sign to turn in for the night. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a bit more productive – the most I did today was get coffee and my eyebrows done. Small self-care steps matter. Booked a hair appointment for next week on my day off because it needs cut and my hairdresser is moving 😩.

I’m impatient and excited for September, so much good new stuff will start!

e x

Posted in Musings, Writing

Swamped

Hello dear readers,

It’s been a crazy busy month. I feel like I’ve barely just gotten my last assessment out of the way and already the next one is due in a couple of weeks. There’s so much to prepare for it, not just the text itself, but the idea and knowing that I will have to do several edits (I hate editing) while trying to bring in concepts that we’ve studied over this block and maintaining an organic development to the chapter. There’s also the commentary where I explain how the idea germinated and developed, what I’ve learned and included from this block into the work and additional readings I’ve been inspired by to help this work.  There is also marks allocated to feedback I’ve given on other people’s work, so that’s what’s been taking up my time just now. The Workshop is a great idea in principle, but I’m concerned that for my one piece of writing I submit for feedback I have to give feedback on three other pieces of work. I’ve still plenty of time to get it in, but I’ve already been on it for a few days. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing for it now, but it’s intense giving such serious critique of someone else’s work.

Aside from that I’ve been working pretty much non-stop (yay!) and I’m now a permanent staff member so loads of pressure has been taken off, don’t need to go back to job hunting again. I’m in a good routine with work, I know what I’m doing, the staff seem to like me well enough and I’ve taken on extra hours and shifts where I could.

It’s all working out well for me now, I’m finding a balance but trying to improve everyday to carve out more time for reading, extra reading, and writing for more than just my course. I have a busy day ahead tomorrow with studying, hoping to catch up on everything tomorrow and get a draft of the TMA done as well. I’m trying to get back to blogging more regularly as well, the last few weeks have honestly just flown by in a flash I can’t believe it’s the middle of March already!

Anyway, back to work!

e x

Posted in Food, Health, University, work, Writing

Tempus Fugit

Can you believe we’re nearly three weeks into January and the new year?

Who’s broken/abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions already? I haven’t abandoned mine, just been a bit slower about them than I would have liked. Pretty much since the start of January my food issues have gotten worse, so I’m back to square one where I’ve stripped my diet back to the absolute basics as far as I can (again). Trying to make sure that everything I do eat is fresh, contains few ingredients, and healthy. I’ve started eating porridge again for breakfast every morning, thankfully Quaker now has their Protein Porridge out which I’m glad to say contains SOYA protein, and while the cinnamon one that I have contains a fair dollop of sugar (in the form of molasses) it’s not a big deal since I’m not consuming much other sugary products and it does keep me fuller for longer.

I’m only managing small portions these days and I’m erring on the side of being slightly not full than forcing myself to finish something, saves on terrible pain. Alas, the hardest part has been saying goodbye to eggs. I love eggs *cries* but I seem to be okay with eggs in things like pasta, noodles and the like. I’ve been drinking lots of green tea with lemon, because I had felt run down I wasn’t drinking as much coffee, and sore throats required something more than water. It’s working out well, even if I still hate the taste of tea, it’s growing on me.

I know I’ve been quite online the last few weeks, but I’ve been working a bit, the hours have dropped off since the Christmas period ended, so the time I have off I’ve been attempting to catch up on uni work that I missed during the mental season. I’m confident now that I know what I’m doing for my assessment, I had a crazy, stressed day a few weeks ago and an idea popped into my head almost completed formed, except I can’t decide on an ending. I know how I want it to end, but how to do it while maintaining my preferred level of creepy and avoiding cliche. The assessment itself does tie into my plans for the new year to work harder and more efficiently, not leaving everything to the last minute, so I’m trying to work smart and construct my other assignments as I go. I have to write a commentary of my script, which for the last assessment I had written a perfect version in my notebook during the night, forgot about it then half-assed one for the assessment and missed out valuable marks. Gah! So I want to be on it this time to save myself. Oh, and I found out that my marks for NEXT year is what decides my overall grade for the MA. I still want this years grades to improve drastically though.

You may be able to tell, I’m using this post to oil up my writing joints to get back to work.

Not sure I have much more to say now. We’ve had a lot of snow, guess who had to walk home from work in a blizzard the other night? Moi.

Anyway, back soon with more to say. Let me know if you all are keeping to your resolutions or not!

e x

Posted in Education, job hunting, life, work

When real life hits

I’ve been under no illusions the last few weeks. Life is being a bitch. I’ve had too much time on my hands without a job and the panic has set in many times. The unemployment rate is ridiculously high in Glasgow… apparently nothing’s changed in the last five years, even despite the massive increase in my work experience and my degree; it has done little to improve my circumstances.

Don’t ask what happened to the other job. All I’ll say is it was making me ill and it’s not the direction I wanted to be going in. Though I’m struggling, I don’t regret leaving… I’m just wondering if being in Glasgow is really the right place for me now.

When I don’t need to get up, I really struggle to get up at a reasonable time. I am the master of the 12-hour sleep and also often suddenly find myself still up faffing around at 2am… you get the picture. Anyway, today I finally got my shit together and left the house after 2pm wanting to go to the Mitchell Library. It’s only open until 5pm on a Friday but I could still make it for a few hours.

I was barely on the bus and in the middle of reading Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can book when I heard others on the bus cry out a resounding “OHH!” I looked up and saw a wee man at the bus stop just collapsed onto the ground and wasn’t moving. Everyone on the bus froze in shock and a few people quickly jumped off and started fussing. Still no one knew what to actually do. I felt like an idiot. I just watched from the bus window, concerned but helpless. A guy appeared from nowhere and I wasn’t sure if he was just trying to get into the bus stop and was unaware of what was going on, but he got down on his hands and knees and pulled the guy onto his back and started doing chest compresions. Another woman soon took over this and the guy started giving mouth to mouth. Someone else called an ambulance and we all watched on as the old man still lay unmoving.

Eventually the bus driver was wanting to move on, some people stayed with the man and let the bus go. We all felt bad. A few stops later we saw the Paramedic ambulance racing in the opposite direction and a bit after that the real ambulance also rushed by. Gives me the shivers but isn’t the first time I’ve been in a situation like this. I really need to get First Aid certified.

It hasn’t tainted my day in so much as it has just brought a mortal edge to my issues. I’m struggling to find work, but so are lots of people. The world isn’t what it used to be… but also the world isn’t what it used to be. I am young, free, and single. The most fortunate woman in my long family line where I have had the help and support to be educated, to be free to work (even if I can’t find it), I live in a technological age where I can earn bits of money online, and I don’t need to marry, nor have children. I am not infallable, but I’m not defeated either. Something good will come eventually, it’s important to keep looking and being involved in life. In the meantime I’ll keep writing and finding joy where I can.

Just keep swimming!

e x

Over a month!

I just saw the date! I haven’t posted in so long, I’m sorry. I kept procrastinating.

Mañana, next weekend, first thing in the morning.

I’ve been bad. Things have changed a lot. Like A LOT.

My course has started, seems fun so far.

More blood tests in the morning and the doctor wants a serious talk with me.

No I’m not pregnant.

Later, e x

Posted in Education, elearning, Musings, University, work, Writing

Balance

If there’s one thing I’ve never been great at it’s balance. Not just in the literal sense of standing on one foot but in terms of what I’m doing in my life, e.g. work or uni, and what I’m juggling with secondary interests and socialising/relaxing.

Especially within the last few weeks this has become my aim to work on achieving a better balance despite working full-time and travelling around ten hours a week to-and-fro. One of my most important challenges has been to prepare enough new and original content for this blog, and as an exercise in discipline to flex my writing muscles even when I’ve little time or inspiration.

Very soon I’ll be starting my new Masters degree, which I’m really excited about but also slightly anxious about being prepared and inspired even if I’m drained from work. I know what I’m getting back into having just finished full-time uni; deadlines, stressing over grades, never feeling I’ve done enough, etc, but I’m planning to plan better and work on my biggest hurdle: TIME MANAGEMENT! This has never been my friend, ever, but I know now more than ever that I need to work on it so I have time to review, revise, and edit drafts efficiently, prior to submitting, so that I can be certain I’ve handed in my best work.

I’m pretty certain I’ll naturally be more inspired to submit creative writing pieces rather than essays. No matter how much I love to write, I’ve never quite gotten the essay writing process down! All lecturers wanted a different style, format, or I really struggled to grasp what they actually wanted me to submit. I did always try to find a hook or an angle to trick myself into being interested in essay topics (apart from classics courses, no tricks were ever needed), but my resounding feeling during honours years was that nothing I wrote was ever good enough.

This course will be different. I’ve been writing since I was 2. Yes, two! Since I could hold a pen I would scribble on paper or forms, (the wall occasionally) and feel exactly the same as Scout Finch, that writing is as natural as breathing. It’s no more spectacular than the respiratory system but is as absolutely critical to life as air.

In the evenings I don’t really have much chill time but I’m starting to get used to my routine and have been able to better utilise what time I do have. I’ve signed up to a few MOOC’s on Coursera, Edx, and OpenLearn which are all free to study and follow but with the option to pay a small fee for an official certificate/qualification. I’ll post soon about the courses I’m doing with some early thoughts and feedback.

There’s also my massive TBR pile, which I’ll get to at some point and review my recent reads.

As a final thought for tonight, I know it is important to take one day at a time, but it is also just as important to make plans and time for the things you really want to do during your free time, so you don’t end up sitting dejected on a Sunday night remembering all the things you wanted to do! (Too many times!)

My schedule changes by an hour next week for a few weeks but I’m going to create a full rotating schedule of activities to slot in around work…

… just keep swimming!

e x

P.S. I’ve added a new Photography page, which I’m planning on adding much more to soon, have a looksie!