Job hunt progress

I seem to be going down the route of a “portfolio” – several different kinds of work going on at once. I like the idea of having a half-time permanent job and also doing some self employed consultancy, spiritual direction, or vocations advice work. A number of doors seem to be opening up for this at the moment. I have a few applications in and interviews and meetings lined up to explore these.

Opportunities include: executive coaching and managment consultancy (particularly to churches and/or church leaders); group facilitation work; and work as a parish priest (part-time).

So, I'm feeling optimistic at the moment!

Job hunting, after Llysfasi

The Llysfasi Spirituality Workshop (see earlier article today) has contributed to what is looking like a change of direction from seeking management work, to applying the spiritual direction skills that I am developing. The most obvious place for this is within the church, however I am discovering that there is an unfilled need for coaching of clergy and other church leaders, and that this could develop into coaching or facilitation work within the business world, which would draw on my previous business experience too.

Some of these thoughts have developed from a conversations that I enjoyed at a fascinating workshop that I was part of on Monday, looking at facilitation skills in the context of the future of “Whatever Next…?” I was in great company, including another Cranfield MBA Alumnus, and a director of 3D Coaching.

Return from Spain

Returned yesterday from a ten-day trip to Spain to help clear out the in-law's house. This was an emotional time for all of us, although the sunshine and some physical work in the garden was good therapy; we were pleased to complete more than we had expected.

Disappointed to find an e-mail telling me that I would not be invited to a second interview for a job that I had been keen on.

Laugh or cry?

My journey with the government agency Jobcentre Plus continued today. I had to attend an interview because I have been on their books for thirteen weeks without finding a job. The letter asking me to attend (and listing dire threats if I did not, such as stopping my Jobseekers' Benefit) told me to bring evidence that I had been seeking work.

So I turned up with lots of papers expecting a conversation enquiring about how my job-hunting was going. These were not asked about. Instead, I was told that I had to widen my job search (I wasn't asked whether I already had) and told to choose a job that I wanted from a list of the ten most popular jobs advertised at the Chippenham Job Centre.

I should say that the nearest that there computer could get to my work with CMS when I signed on with them at first was “Office Manager” – not very close really – and I now had to widen my search from that.

Pleas, that none of the jobs that I wanted were on the list, were ignored because of rules that had to be obeyed. I could see nothing about charities, or strategy, or general management, or marketing. Not being attracted at the moment to jobs as a cleaner or storekeeper, the best seemed to be “Local Government Administrator.” There then, at a stroke, is my new career. The lady who sought to guide me through this charming process advised me that I should choose this rather than “Civil Service Administrator” because it would be better paid. Maybe I can now apply for a job like the one she has.

Am I mad, or is it everybody else?

Working For a Charity course ends

Yesterday I attended the final day of my Working For a Charity Course in London. I recommend it! (My placement with Send a Cow will continue through the Summer.)

 My purpose in doing the course was to gain, or regain, an overview of how the charity sector works, and the course has exceeded my expectations. This has happened not just through the content of the course, and enjoying the many different presenters, but also through enjoying the company of the other fellow travellers (the other eleven course members) and Elaine and Catherine who organised it so well.

It has been great to watch course members grow in understanding, skill, and confidence during the course; and I hope that we shall keep in touch.

As well as learning new facts about the charity sector, it has been good to realise how skills gained in previous voluntary and paid work will transfer into work in the wider charity sector. It has also reminded me of skills that I have that I tend to take for granted – for example in marketing, communications, presenting, and coaching.

Send a Cow

Today I started work for Send a Cow in Bath. They are an interesting charity developing sustainable farming in Africa, and originally started by farmers from this area. I shall be doing some consultancy work for them, to look at the effectiveness of their fundraising to churches, and it got off to a good start today.

This is a voluntary placement for about 20 days or so spread over the next few months, tied to the Working For a Charity Course.

Take a look also at their fun Cowforce web site, with games and downloads, aimed at schools and children! The jokes are entertaining too.

The charity has diversified from its original work of (literally) sending cows to Africa to work more widely in sustainable agriculture and community development. Livestock, and initiatives such as keyhole gardens and economical clay stoves, help to support and build communites – whether extended families or those orphaned by HIV/AIDS. I like a quote in the Summer 2007 issue of Send a Cow's “Lifeline” newsletter, from an African Farmer: Without peace and love in the home, even meat is bitter!

Trust needed, not clarity

One of the things that I don't like about job-hunting is uncertainty, so I felt chastened by a conversation between John and Mother Teresa.

John has been on a three month pilgrimage to Calcutta to meet MT and to get clarity. He asks her to pray for this.

MT: “No! I will not do that. Clarity is the last thing that you are clinging to and you must let go of it.”

John replies that she always seems so clear about what she should do.

MT: “Oh, I have never had any clarity whatsoever. What I have is trust. So I will pray that you trust Jesus.”

This conversation, between “renowned ethicist” John Cavanagh and Mother Teresa was referred to in a talk by Peter Grieg of 24/7 Prayer delivered at an Alpha event at Holy Trinity Brompton Church. It was printed in Focus, an enclosure in the latest issue of the Church of England Newspaper.

“Whatever Next…?”

Last Friday I enjoyed a day in the company of half a dozen other people at a picturesque conference centre in Buckinghamshire. We were all people at decision points in our lives, and this was a “Whatever Next…?” Day.

With sensitive facilitation, and feedback from one another, we found new ways of looking at our situations and new ways of moving forward. The only thing we knew beforehand was that we should start by sharing our stories (therapeutic in itself), enjoy good food, and choose how the day would flow from there.

True. I recommend it.

Enjoy unemployment?

I realise that I'm fed up with describing myself as unemployed. When I tell people they want to be sad for me, which is not cheering. Furthermore, in saying that I am unemployed I am describing myself by what I am not instead of by what I am: I suspect that the habit is not healthy.

I don't always react well to change (such as losing a job). But it is my experience that when I get over the shock of things I discover a life to be lived – and enjoyed – and not just a problem to solve.

That's a challenge….