I sat and proofread the job application form once more. Maybe this time was different. I’d applied for countless positions and not got a single interview. I knew the jobs I was going for were within my skill set and I could evidence my track record for each criteria on the person specification. Maybe a personal approach would make all the difference.
I picked up the phone and dialled the telephone number on the job advert and asked to speak to the business manager. When she answered, I introduced myself and explained that I was about to send my application for the advertised vacancy. I said that I felt it would be useful to discuss my application with her person to person. So far so good; she seemed quite receptive to the idea.
I was applying for an administrator’s job. As my CV showed that I’d worked at senior management level for my last company I thought that my application may seem surprising to her. I wanted her to know that I was genuinely interested in the role. The business manager on the other end of the phone still seemed interested and was positive about me taking the time to call her. She asked why I had left. I mentally took a deep breath and told her.
“I had a serious bout of depression, a mental health crisis. I’m recovering well but it’s changed my priorities and I don’t want to spend so much time at work anymore.”
Her manner changed. She was exasperated to say the least. “You managers are all the same,” she pretty much spat out, “you all think it’s so easy in admin but let me tell you it’s just as stressful. If you couldn’t cope with your last job you won’t cope with this.”
Slightly stunned, I managed to respond – and with a level of calm assertion that surprised me. “I was ill. I’ve recovered. The experience has just made me re-prioritise how I want to spend my life.”
Again, an irritated response. “You won’t cope. It’s very stressful. We can’t have people we can’t rely on.”
“I’m very reliable” I replied, “and I think there’s a big difference between working a seventy hour week and two seven hour days.”
“Well send your form in if you want to” she said dismissively. Not being great at confrontation I thanked her. I really wanted to ask why the hell she thought I’d want to work for someone like her. Maybe I should have broken the news to her that despite her preconceptions, you can recover from mental health issues – unlike her ignorance, which was obviously terminal.