Posts Tagged ‘Women in work’

Who has noticed I’ve got my groove back? Whoop!!

Very recently I wrote about being almost subsumed by work, stress, and so many emotions that made it difficult to write. Guess what? I’m back! Whoop! Slowly catching up with most of my writing commitments, and oh what a joy!

Thank you Jesus!

So let’s talk about something that happened recently which I’m very concerned by, especially since it has happened before. Before I start though, quick question: what’s the most important thing for you when you apply for a position/job/project/whatever?

For me, it’s knowing all I can about the people hiring. It’s like dating ( by the way, I refer to relationships so much these days I think an Agony Aunt column is in my future) and if you don’t get to know your partner, how can you please them (or at least try)?

Agreed? Not saying that’s all you need to look out for but believe me when I say it’s important. Very important.

Second thing for me is that I need to care enough/want it bad enough, otherwise there is no point. I won’t get it. To be clear, I haven’t been accepted everywhere I applied for a job, matter of fact there was a research project I put in for a couple weeks ago with a team, and we didn’t get chosen. We did get great feedback though, on what we did right and wrong, so much as I really wanted us to win the tender, I’m not beating myself up at all.

Anyway, back to talking about other people. Lol.

For about two years I’ve recruited ad hoc or full-time staff for myself and for clients, and so I’ve gone through a number of CV’s. And that’s what this post is about. The entire gamut around securing a job, from sending a CV to the interview, to negotiating your pay, to whatever comes after. I know we all talk about the scarcity of jobs, and the difficulties around women finding and being in work but have we thought about employability?

A month ago I needed two researchers and so I asked on Twitter – and most times I will tweet about positions I need to fill – that people send CV’s and a link to anything they had written to an email address.

I got the weirdest responses. From the guy who addressed me as “Hi Chi” (forget the inappropriateness of the salutation, anyone who knows me knows any adaptations of ‘Chioma’ never work with me), to the person who sent me her social network names for me to ‘check her out’, then the guy who sent me a CV which had more errors than correct sentences, phew! Then there was the lady who sent me a nice CV, but then an article that was full of ‘lols’, ‘smhes’, and ‘rmes’. How do you send that as a writing sample for a research position? Who does that? Hian!

About 72 hours ago I joined a panel to interview some people for an internship position. Three guys, two ladies, and somehow the guys went first. First guy was alright, second guy maybe just a bit more qualified, and the third guy sounded like the perfect ‘bullshitter‘ (forgive that word please, I’ll explain). We asked him how he would solve a problem in our organization (which he claimed he was well aware of, and then he said he wouldn’t be able to give us an answer till he had “researched into the foundation of the issue because everything takes root at the foundation then starts to grow”. What??? You know how people just go round and round the mulberry bush because they don’t have an answer? This guy.

Anyway, it was the ladies who worried me. Greatly. The first one knew next to nothing about the organization, kept on smiling in a ‘I-don’t-know-as-much-as-I-should-but-I’m-hoping-my smile-makes-up-for-it’ kind of way, and said she didn’t use social media but had a Facebook and Twitter account. Haba!!! When social media management for the organization was there as one of the tasks? Did I mention she wore jeans and hot pink lipstick? And generally gave off a very unserious vibe?

The second lady did just a bit better but all the interviewers knew the race for the position was between the guys. The ladies were (to my mind) just there to make up the numbers.

And so it is to the sisters I write today. Do we not care enough? Is the problem that we are not aware of what we should do when we’re job-hunting or we don’t want these jobs bad enough? I don’t know. It was distressing though, super distressing. And then we’ll go to our places of worship to pray for favor when we put in ZERO effort. I don’t know…

Thoughts, anyone?

PS: Written on the 21st of March, 2015.

A few weeks ago I sat with some friends in one of my favorite places in Lagos (Terra Kulture) and we talked about everything, ending somewhere between relationships, entrepreneurs, that kind of thing.

How did it even start? I know there was a statement made about the scarcity of good men and after both males and females argued a little bit about generalizations, we talked about the difficulties young people face in relationships, either in starting or keeping them.

I totally forgot about that conversation till I was going to blog about Social Media Week Lagos and as I was noting talking points, I remembered the session on ‘Women in Tech’ and how disappointed my friends and I were at the gloss that was slathered on the entire discussion.

Matter of fact, my friend Saratu asked a question that echoed all my sentiments. She wanted to know why none of the speakers spoke about the challenges they’d faced in building their businesses, why no one was telling the real stories behind whatever successes they were currently standing on.

Here’s a personal experience. In 2012 I was in a bank, frustrated with my account officer because they’d said I could get pounds from the branch and then I drove all the way to Area 11 and I don’t remember what excuse they’d given but I was pissed off.

While I was discussing with the said account officer, a much older man asks to borrow my pen. I give it to him and when he’s done, he says I’m pretty and he wants my number. Now, if you read my blog you’ll know the day before I travel is normally the crazy day where I have 1000 things to do, I’m literally running/speeding everywhere and even 26 hours wouldn’t do. Plus, I was ticked off at the bank so a much older man asking for my number was the last thing I was in the mood for. I refused with the last bit of respect I had and after he asked why I was sweating and in a foul mood, I mentioned I still had a client’s office to visit, I had a trip to get ready for etc.

Long story short, we exchanged cards, he wanted me to prepare a social media strategy for the ministry in which he was a director of finance or something. I did, adapted one I’d written for another client, and emailed it that night.

My quote was at least 60% cheaper than the other proposals he had received (he’d given them to me when I swung by to collect a brief) and with the elaborate document I handed in, to my mind it was a matter of when.

I called a few times from Blighty and he said they didn’t have ‘network’ in the office for him to read it, and one day he talked about him coming over so I could explain it to him. A director of a ministry flying (all the way) to England so a prospective strategist could explain her proposal? Lol.

Let’s end the story quickly. I refused to play nice, so he stopped taking my calls and one day told me he was going on a one-year course and not/never to call him again. And that was that. I remember ranting on Twitter, and Ruona Meyer encouraging me in my DMs. I won’t forget that.

So, back to the discussion at Terra Kulture, I said something about unconsciously putting up walls whenever I interacted with men partly because of work and how the slightest smile is misconstrued as ‘consent’ and then a ‘no’ becomes a problem because you led them along (by smiling). I talked about how it was easier (and better) for me to be first seen as mean/hard looking and then soften up (maybe) as the work takes off properly instead of being taken for a ride from day one.

I mentioned how those walls then become a problem when you’re with your special someone because they might feel like you’re not completely open with them but it’s just you forgetting that you can take a break from protecting yourself because relationships should be safe spaces. It’s just you transferring your protective shell/demeanor to a space where you can/should be vulnerable. And that causes problems.

That’s just one challenge.

How many women have to work twice as hard while the rest of the world preaches ‘ empowerment/inclusion’ and ‘giving women a place on the table’? How many women become who they are politically only because they are married to or are children of the Old Boy’s Club? How many of us are frustrated day in day out with the weakest links around our projects?

Here’s another reason why I feel like women should be just a bit more ‘open’ with these conversations. We have these events and everything sounds like a piece of chocolate cake, freely handed out to us because we’re ‘whoever we say we are’. And so the young women listening press forward, maybe even decide to switch careers because we have it so good here.

Then they come and are buffeted with all sorts of challenges they didn’t imagine were possible or are prepared for in the slightest. And then they run away. Or they give in to whatever pressures they have find they have to (furthering the ugly stereotype). Very few will dig their heels in, and fight to get that place on the table.

At the next gathering of women we’ll lament that there are very few entrepreneurs. There will be, because they’re not ready!

It’s the same thing for relationships to be honest, but that’s a totally different discussion for another day.

Final word – can we be a bit more honest with these things? Sure. So let’s do/be that.