Interviewing

Today I had an interview for a permanent position in the organisation I am currently temping in (potentially my own role). Being a temp already in the position you might think that I would be a shoe-in for the position, but it is public service position within the human rights sector and probably one of the harder fields to get a foot in the door for even the most educated and experienced of people, so really there are no guarantees. So with all this in hand I knew I had to treat this like any interview I went for, I had to prepare, I had to make sure I was professional and that I communicated why I would be the right person for the position.

28a961dI knew this was a competency based interview which meant that the interviewee’s would be looking for answers using the STAR method. Situation, Task, Action, Result. It had become a very popular model used to access interviewees across the board, but knowing this and signing it in practice are two completely different things. I went through all of the different area’s that I knew the questions would be based around, people management, skills and expertise, communication, commitment and drive, etc. and wrote up standard dot point answers using the STAR method for each of these potential areas of questioning.

But in the end I don’t think it matters how much preparation you do, when you really want the position and you know the competition is stiff the nerves are always going to be there. I walked into the interview and put everything I had on the table, in some cases I used the examples I had prepared, in other cases the questions where put in such a way that my pre-planned answers were not going to suffice and I had to think on the spot.

Overall I was satisfied with how the interview went, there was one question in which I believe I truly choked and it should have been the one I did best in – communicating with difficult, complex, different clients. Really I should have had this one in the bag, but I choose a bad example, lost my train of thought half way through, and then had someone knock on the door and interrupt the interview. In the end I turned around and said ‘let me give you another example, it does not quite fit the question you are answering but I think would give you better insight’ and proceeded to give a different example. I am not sure if it worked but the visual response from the interview panel was encouraging.

So now all there is left to do is to wait. I was told by the recruitment agent that it could be a few weeks before I receive a response, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the successful applicants will know by mid next week at the latest. So fingers and toes are crossed that there will be a very drunk Charmaine celebrating a new job in the coming days.

One month in…

It has now been just over one month since I arrived in Dublin, the weather has turned wet, and the original excitement of being in a new city has begun to fade. The hunt for an apartment in the city center continues as I get another “I am sorry but we decided to go with another applicant” rejection text message for yet another place, and that elusive bank account still feels like a unicorn just out of reach. While my scant wardrobe of wintry clothes makes me dream of a shopping trip I can’t afford and the effects of my not great diet and lack of real high intensity exercise begin to show…. It has all begun to add up.

But with what sometimes feels like all the negative, there have also been a number of not always so obvious positives in the last month, and this post I wanted to focus on the positives.

Unlike many new migrants to this country I had been fortunate to start a temping job by the end of my second week here, and have been in the same temp position since. My co-workers at my workplace are amazing, you really couldn’t ask for a better team to work with, and there are a number of full-time positions coming up within the organisation which (if I am successful in applying for) would actually mean I could use my degree and have the opportunity explore my other career interests too!

My co-workers have also been really supportive in my search for a new apartment, keeping an ear out about anything that may come up, making recommendations to try different websites, and even offering to write a letter of reference. They have also been really emphatic of my banking saga’s trying to make any offers of assistance that they can. I don’t think I have had two days in that office where people have not come in with food to share with everyone and really they have just made me feel so welcome. For any temp that is not always something which you get to feel, and it makes the experience of getting up and going to work just that bit much more enjoyable.

Social media, blogging, Meet Up groups and apps have also been a huge positive in my life over the last month. As I’ve talked about in previous blogs I have been attending Meet Up groups, some have been a success… some not so much, but all worth attending at least one. Dublin Facebook groups have allowed me to meet new people, find out about things happening around the city, and sometimes just connect to someone when you are feeling isolated on a packed commuter bus. My blog has allowed me to connect to other bloggers, and the communication/ relationship you develop with your readers/ other bloggers has been just as enjoyable as writing my blog. Blogging and communicating with other bloggers has also allowed me to find out about things happening in Dublin and offered new ways of meeting new people, for example Bumble.

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Bumble is the Tinder for finding a BFF. Well Bumble is a dating/ ‘hook up’ app owned by Tinder but it does have a BFF option for people like me looking for female friends (it may work the same for men, I am not sure). I am only in my early stages of this app but so far I love it! – But I will keep you posted.

Apps have been a huge positive in my life over the last month. All the public transport companies have them Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and the Luas, so I always know when my bus is going to arrive – or if it has been cancelled (which as annoying as it is, at least
I know it has been cancelled now and I am not standing at a bus stop for half hour waiting for a bus that never arrives). Twitter has also been a huge help, often I find it is updating me on an accident or traffic delays etc. which may affect me long before any of the news agencies are updating their news feeds.twitter-logo

The new people I have meet have also been a huge positive in my life. Although I have not known them long, and acquaintances may be a better word to use then friends, just having those people in your life when you first move to a new city has made all the difference. A text message of excitement when someone finds a new apartment or to let you know which pub they are drinking at if you want to join them, makes you feel wanted and connected to the city.

Last but not least, the biggest positive has been that I have been going this alone. That is not to say that I don’t have encouraging family and friends back home, or supportive co-workers and new friends here. But I have been able to develop those friendships, wade the tide of frustration and anxieties when things go wrong, and just survive and thrive in the day to day on my own. I have not needed a significant other, whether they be a boyfriend/ girlfriend, sibling or parent to hold my hand through this last month, and that in itself is an extremely gratifying and liberating feeling.

Happy Friday everyone, hope you have a great weekend!

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Irish Banking – Welcome to the 18th Century

Today marks 29 days since I arrived in Ireland and finally I have all the paper work I need to open a bank account. Navigating the Irish bank system has been an experience to say the least, in the 8 years since I last opened a bank account in Ireland the country has tightened its rules on proof of identity and proof of address for new accounts. No longer does a letter from your employer (or the manager of the hostel you are living in as was my case the first time round!) count as proof of address. This can make proving your address especially difficult for someone new to the country who is currently living with friends/family or in shared accommodation.

Finally after being employed for over a fortnight I have the letter from Revenue (the Irish tax department) providing the proof of my address I need to open my bank account. I have made an appointment at a local bank and fingers crossed I will have my account open in another two weeks… yes that’s right two more weeks! Why? Because it can take up to a week to get an appointment with a bank and then a further 7 days to “process” your information and set up the account. But then I shall only have an account, it will be up to another 7 days before I have a debit card in which to allow me to access my money without having to go into a bank. It really is not a quick process…

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So what have I been doing in the meantime to access my money?

So far I have been living off my Australian savings but that is not ideal. For every cash withdrawal I make it cost me $5 in bank fees and for every transaction 2.5%, I am also limited by the Irish ATM’s to a maximum 600€ withdrawal a day. This can make things difficult if you are wanting to provide a cash deposit and/or one month’s bond to someone for a share house to secure your accommodation.

As I have been working for the last fortnight in Ireland and I don’t have a bank account, I am paid by cheque. I received my first cheque last week and having been told that cheque’s could only be cashed by the bank who drafted the cheque I headed off to my nearest Bank of Ireland branch. On arriving at the bank and spending half an hour in line (it was lunch time so there was only one teller on) I was finally served. I was quickly disappointed again as the cashier advised me that not only did a cheque have to be banked within the same bank but also within the same branch in which it was drafted. In this case a branch about 40min walk from my workplace and nowhere near my home.

I was astonished and infuriated. I couldn’t understand – it was the same bank! I asked the cashier to explain why this was to me, but they could not say more than it was bank policy. My past experience with cheques has been limited to the annual Christmas/birthday cheque from the grandparents living on the other side of the country. Never have I had to fly across the country to bank my $50 cheque, so why could the bank that issued the cheque not also cash it? – the answer I may never know. So my cheque continues to sit in my dresser until next week when I go to pick up my next cheque and I will then proceed to walk the 40 min to the bank and cash both cheques at once.

Maybe it’s my “first-world problem” but I feel as we continue to storm through the 21st century the Irish banking system is providing us with a little taste of 18th century life.

Finding the right job

I arrived in Dublin 18 days ago, excited and ready to have new opportunities thrown at me left right and center. I knew, and had spent the last 6 months telling myself that it was going to take time to find a job that I would fall passionately in love with – but I still expected or at least hoped I would find it in the first week I was here. But my first week came and went with no job offers… On my second week, I was made an offer for a more advanced role then the position I held in Australia. A really good job, with a very well-known not-for-profit in Ireland… I turned the job down and decided to temp instead.

People think I am nuts, this country is still coming out of a recession and I am turning down a full time, permanent position?!? But before you go judging me, hear me out. I didn’t enjoy my old job, it was never something that I woke up to in the morning and went ‘yes, I can’t wait to get to work’ and if I am going to move to a new country and start a new life, this is the perfect time to work on a career change as well.

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All dressed and ready to job hunt on my first day in Dublin!

Temping has offered me that opportunity to explore new careers; I get an income, I get to work for various organisations, meet new people, establish new contacts, get an idea of what is available in Ireland and new opportunities I may not have thought of before, and it also allows me to build up a professional reputation here with numerous employers within a short period of time.

I have had to take a bit of a pay cut, and in some instances I am doing very basic jobs but it’s an in, and if you are a hard worker and you are willing to engage with your colleagues, offer them assistance and learn about other roles. You never know when another permanent job opportunity in the organisation may come up and if you are already there and your managers are happy with your performance and how well you already fit in with the organisation they may just ask you to apply instead of having to externally advertise the position.

My only quam with temping is the recruitment agencies, I have found many do not want to put you in organisations outside of your industry e.g. although I have a lot of marking, PR and event management experience the recruitment agencies only consider positions within the property management sectors of not-for-profit or government organisations because the last organisation I worked with was a not-for-profit. Always remember the recruitment agent is there to make money by placing you into a position, they’re not interested in progressing your career aspirations. So if you want to expand and work outside of your previous industry you have to be prepared to push your case with the agent, I have even offered to do reception work in commercial organisations just to vary my portfolio and get rid of my reputation as only a not-for-profit employee.

Overall I am happy with my decision to temp, it may not be in the long run how I find my final permanent position that I love, but for the short term it has provided a lot of opportunities.

Either way I will keep you posted on how finding my dream job goes….

Cheers

Charmaine

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