CV advice and a grocer called Unicorn…

I've been shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards 2016 Final.

Doing a favour for our daughter set me thinking. She asked me to look at her CV, which was fine and only needed a polish.

Having run my word-cleaning cloth over her perfectly acceptable efforts, I wondered about my own CV.

Online employment firms and even the Daily Telegraph are always offering to finesse my CV for me. I did send it off once for a trial and was given some pointers on how it could be improved. I took the advice on board – but decided that spending around £150 on having my back pages professionally reupholstered was not for me.

It is what it is; I am what I am – and, anyway, my CV reads quite well now, I’d say.

Strange, in a way, to be advising my daughter on how best to sell herself when I am having to do the same job on myself. My CV has accompanied many so far fruitless job applications, although some companies or institutions say they don’t wish to see a CV. I can’t say that I blame them, although there is a downside to ignoring the formal experience list. One of the biggest employment agencies is run by a man who said in an online interview that CVs only show what you have done in the past, not what you are capable of now.

So his firm sets you an online test comprising a series of timed tasks. Although keyboard quick in my old job, I was terrible at this exercise and got nowhere. The job was badly paid and in Leeds, so perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough.

So I send off applications for jobs I am probably not suited to; and keep on with the freelance writing (paid but spasmodic employment) and the blogging (unpaid but enjoyable) – tasks to which I am suited. Bashing out words in a mostly literate rush seems to be something I can do.

Our middle boy has a number of zero-hour contract jobs but would like something more permanent, as there is the rent to pay on the flat he shares with his girlfriend. He keeps his spirits up, though, partly through his music. He is in a Manchester band called Sonic Bliss Machine and they play around the city.

Yesterday we drove to Salford to see him. He had band practise later so we put his guitar in the back of the old Volvo, then drove to Chorlton for lunch at somewhere called the Tea Hive. The food was good and I enjoyed my all-day breakfast (meat-eaters who live with vegetarians have to grab every carnivorous opportunity).

After lunch, we popped over the road to visit Unicorn Grocery, a workers’ co-operative grocers filled with fresh produce and huge bags of dates, nuts and so on. All very non-corporate and lovely, and I’d shop there if it wasn’t so far away. The place was full on a Sunday afternoon, and I left with a bag of bread flour (those usually find their way into my arms), some sundried tomatoes and a bottle of cider and perry vinegar.

The shop reminded me of Neal’s Yard Wholefoods in Convent Garden, now long since gone. When we lived in London in the 1980s, we bought huge jars of peanut butter and honey from there, before popping round the corner to Monmouth Street Coffee House for big value bags of coffee beans. Sadly, although still there, the coffee house is now trendy, expensive and a mini-chain.

We returned to the car, our son walked off with his guitar, and we drove back to York, where our eldest has no need of CV advice from me as he has a job as a primary school teacher. So at least he’s sorted.


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