Sunday, July 25, 2010

Alices misadventures in 'stralialand

My experience as an immigrant has been that the Australian networks are reasonably impenetrable. This has been the experience of numerous immigrant acquaintances as well. ( Said he self-justifyingly.)

I have so far sent out in the region of 100 job applications. In response I have received

a) in many instances zero response
b) polite formulaic thanks but no thanks letters
c) two interviews.

The first interview was for an internet producer role at the Ted Noffs Foundation. I arrived early for a two pm interview, and was then made to wait for an hour before having a short and immensely casual interview with the grandson of the founder, one Matt Noffs (Its a VERY family run foundation, many of the executive staff are family members - just the kind of foundation I would structure myself.) Matt looked as if he were acquainting himself with my CV for the first time, and after a few nowhere minutes where I attempted to find out what they were looking for so that I could be it, we rose to part company.
"Its very unprofessional to make someone wait for an hour with no explanation, for an interview that was scheduled at 2pm" (me)
"well someone has to be unprofessional around here. See ya" (Matt)

Who knows? We may indeed see each other one day, coming out of train station or while crossing the street to get to an urgent appointment. So I took Matt's passing shot as a benedictive prophecy.

The second interview was with a company called ruralco, which has many rural retail outlets and a number of agriculturally based busineses such as stock feeds, fertilisers, farm insurance etc. During a reasonably lengthy interview (which I had prepared quite thoroughly for) with the IT manager and the marketing manager - Cameron - it emerged I'd been a teacher for two years.

"What did you teach" asked the IT manager.
I hesitated for a moment. "Jewish Studies" I blurted out, after considering saying something suitably vague like 'languages' or 'theology.'
I made quick eye contact before averting my gaze again, to try and guage how this snippet of information was being received. To their credit neither of them missed a beat. We continued shmoozing like old friends, and when I felt things were winding down, I asked if they - Ruralco - had any factory farms.

After being assured they did not, I mentioned that I was vegetarian, and that I would be bringing my own sausages to any staff sausage sizzles they might be holding (for the uninitiated a sausage sizzle is an Australian cultural event where sausages - ground up animal muscle encased in a synthetic or natural casing and generally flavoured with a plant derived flavouring agent - are heated on a (usually gas) cooking device which is wheeled outdoors for the occassion. Said sausages may be served on processed white flour rolls with sauces made from tomatoes or mustard seeds mixed with vinegar).

I'm not sure it was before or after my questions and declaration that I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Cameron had begun shuffling his papers - a reasonably clear indication that my allotted time was up and that time wasters should know when to move on. I dutifully said I had no more questions and was jovially seen to the door. I expected to get a thanks but no thanks message the next day but instead there was nothing - just a great big vacuum which left me wondering; was it my ambiguity about the commute? (it would have been about 2 hours 20 a day). My South Africaness? My (gasp) Jewishness? My vegetarianess? My Imanuelness? Was I too forward? Too backward? Too sideways? Or none of the above?

In the absence of data the mind is very creative with what it makes up - but two weeks later the matter was semi put to rest when the HR recruiter - an ex South African who had sent me to the interview sent me another email which clarified things, if not a lot, at least somewhat. It said "they still have not decided. Am leaving job today to become a wedding planner."

Not a bad idea. Perhaps I'll consider that option for myself as well, if the next 100 CVs I send out prove to be similarly unproductive. In the meantime the bills continue to stream in, and I mantain the daily routine of the landed gentry, while sometimes. at night, the repressed fear arises and keeps me tossing and turning wondering how it will resolve itself.

1 comment:

Laurance said...

You are a lot further along than me in the Great US of A. I still gotta write my CV. But no raving degrees and no expertise in deep middle age is not a CV to expectantly send out to the world. We can swap if you like just to compare the markets.
Glad you didn't get those jobs and work your butt off until they slipped back in their disappointing frames. They were not for you, just rehearsals for the next interview.