gamiila: (I just want to be OK today)
I received a phone call from Verizon a minute ago. Despite the very 'positive overall impression' I had made in my interview, they had decided they weren't comfortable with the fact that I had no previous experience in Sales and so, wouldn't be taking the process any further. I was sorry to hear it, as over the last few days I had allowed myself to dream that my search was almost at an end. Also, the company seemed like one I would enjoy working at...international, technologically innovative, dynamic...

On Sunday, I went to see The Avengers in 3D. It was a spur of the moment thing, and therefore not the kind of film I would have queued up for if I'd given the matter any thought, but I enjoyed it greatly - despite the fact that I've never read any Marvel comics and (apart from the Hulk, who I knew from the 70s TV-series) have no idea of any of these characters' back stories. Robert Downey Jr. starred in it though, and that was enough to keep me happy. Joss Whedon's name popped up in the end credits as the director and gave me a little jolt of recognition and surprise, but the person I went to see the movie with isn't familiar with the Buffyverse and so I didn't comment on it. I understand some people on my flist are looking forward to seeing it and so I won't spoil them with any thoughts on plot or character development, but will only say that it is marvellous good fun (the audience erupted in gales of laughter at several points) and well worth the price of admission.
gamiila: (who's there?)
Oops! Seems I've been away from LJ for two whole weeks - how did that happen? Oh Facebook, you've got a lot to answer for!

I think this 100 things to blog about-challenge is a brilliant idea! I'll have to have a think about what topic I can possibly devote 100 entries to...100 Rubbish Ideas I've Had, perhaps?

I had an interview with Verizon Business yesterday, for a position in Sales Channel Management. I think I did well, but won't know for certain until the end of next week when they said they'd let me know, as they still had a few more candidates to interview. Be interesting to see what decision they come to, as the other two both appear to have a background in Sales, but I'm the only one with previous experience in the field of Channel Management.

Earlier in the week, I met up with [livejournal.com profile] suze2000 and her husband Darren in Amsterdam for an evening. They'd expressed an interest in getting acquainted with traditional Dutch cuisine, so I guided them to a small bistro that specialises in just that. Darren showed himself fearless of sampling our jenevers and (liquorice) liqueurs, and suggested we end the night in Wynand Fockink's, a distillery and tasting room dating back to 1679, where we arrived just before closing time and then enjoyed half an hour's worth of a lock-in.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to report that my face has almost gone back to normal again; obviously I'm now sporting a scar, which is very noticeable to me (mostly because there's some pain and discomfort there), but as long as I keep from smiling too widely, you wouldn't know I'm missing a tooth.

Other than that, I can't think of anything else noteworthy to relate, and so I'll say goodnight.

Palm Sunday

Apr. 1st, 2012 04:12 pm
gamiila: (treading water)
Liturgical colour: red.

For Palm Sunday (and the beginning of Holy Week), Mass began with a procession and the blessing of palm fronds and crosses outside; and ended with a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' for our parish priest, who will be 52 tomorrow. The church was filled to the rafters for the occasion, but I've noticed in the last few weeks that even on ordinary Sundays, attendance here is high - such a difference to how things were in my old parish. After Mass, I participated in a sponsored walk across The Hague to the ICC, to raise money for providing a proper healthcare in Kenyan refugee camps as part of our Lenten campaign. At the ICC, we were given a short but very interesting presentation about the Court and the cases that are brought before it. There are 4 crimes within the Court's jurisdiction, namely: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes committed after July 1st, 2002 and, under certain circumstances, the crime of aggression. The ICC differs from the ICJ in that here cases are brought against individuals, rather than against nations. There are currently 7 investigations and 8 preliminary examinations underway; all in all, 15 cases have been brought before the Court since it was established in 2002, of which 6 are currently at the trial stage.

I got chatting to one of my fellow parishioners, and she turned out to be working in HR. She's asked me to mail her my cv, which I will do...but without expecting too much at this stage.

But now: a recipe, courtesy of one of my French Facebook friends, one that I will certainly try next time I have a dinner party - although it's actually a traditional dish for Easter (apparently).

√©paule d'agneau boulang√®re )
gamiila: (stay focused)
The sun's come out and all is right with the world, even if yesterday's recruiter has just come back to me with the message that the telco (T-Mobile) has ixnayed on my candicacy for their vacancy. I thought they might, as the job as it was described to me yesterday led me to suspect that while it wasn't an entry-level position, it wasn't exactly mid-career, either. They've now confirmed that I have "too much seniority", and I'm fine with that. Basically, it means they're looking for someone cheaper.

For the subject of today's picture, I'm going back to birds, just because they were so cute when I spied them this morning. There's a small colony of parakeets living in the neighbourhood, who must have descended from a couple of escapees, and who have been doing remarkably well in the last few years, considering the winters we've had. This morning, I spotted two of them all lovey-dovey in the bushes ;-)

aww )
gamiila: (hanging around)
I had an interview with a recruitment agency this morning, so I woke up early and took the recently extended metro into Rotterdam (The Hague has no metro system; but Rotterdam's had one since the 70s. Last year, their E line was extended to The Hague Central Station). It turned out the agency's office is situated on the right bank of the river Meuse, and afforded a good view of the 1996 Erasmusbrug, which is referred to locally as 'De Zwaan' (i.e., the swan). It's one of the best known bridges in The Netherlands, mainly because shortly after its opening, it had to be closed down again for modification: its original design caused it to start swaying in a combination of wind (force 6 on the Beaufort scale) and rain.

De Zwaan )

As to my interview, the recruiter told me she would get back to me this afternoon (she was going to meet with her client after I left), but she hasn't...so I think I may have had a wasted journey.
gamiila: (cat)
A new month brings new opportunities! I was approached by a recruiter for a large telecom company who thought they might have an opening for me, and so I've agreed to meet with them on Monday. It would be another interim job, looking after large business accounts, and the profile seems to fit so...fingers crossed (again)!

In other news, today's the day when Manasse, the benjamin in my household, turns 8 years old. Converted into human years, this makes him almost as old as I am (48 to my 49). He's been eluding me all day, refusing to sit for his portrait, but I managed to snap his picture anyway when he let his guard down momentarily.

birthday boy )
gamiila: (sexy)
Today's photo is one of myself, as having spent most of the day indoors composing an application letter to Dell, I didn't really have a chance to look for a more suitable subject for picture-taking. If you look carefully (click the picture for a bigger image), you'll see that I'm wearing glasses -- the ones I won in that Facebook comp last month, as I still haven't received the call that my replacement contact lens has arrived at the optician's. They're alright, if a little uncomfortable, pinching the bridge of my nose. Also, I think my ears aren't properly aligned...

moi )

According to my phone's manual, it should enable me to take self-portraits with it easily. However, even when I follow the instructions to the letter, it doesn't seem to want to work. In the end, I was reduced to taking a quick pic of my reflection in an in-store mirror.

:(

Feb. 1st, 2012 08:18 pm
gamiila: (*pout*)
My long-time musical hero, David Sylvian, has injured his back; and this has impaired his mobility to such an extent that he has had to cancel his upcoming tour, or at least the March and April leg of it. They're looking to reschedule some of those dates, but for now, I'm left with no idea how I'll be spending the evening of March 9th instead.

My online cv was viewed 28 times in December. In January, the grand total of views stopped at 0.

Dearie me

Dec. 29th, 2011 01:12 pm
gamiila: (oops!)
Funny, how I always seem to be getting a response from those applications I don't really want to go forward. I sent another uninspired letter off yesterday, carefully failing to address the main criteria...and got a call from the hiring manager this morning. Of course, I was too polite to tell him I don't really want the job, it's just that I need another rejection letter to show the Job Centre that I have been trying to find work in this last week of the year, too. I wish I didn't have to go to all this subterfuge, but the type of jobs I do want are posted few and far between.

Although I hate it when I get cold called and usually end the conversation before it starts, the other day I got cold called by another utilities company and switched over on the strength of their sales pitch. Now that there's less money coming in, I'm more susceptible to special offers. Imagine my dismay then, when I received notification that instead of me paying less for gas and electric as I had been led to believe over the phone, my monthly payments with this company would amount to a whopping 238,= euros, 141 euros over what I paid before! I rang their customer services to complain and after apologising for 'the mistake', they said they'd readjusted it to 74,= euros a month, but I won't really feel reassured until I receive their confirmation in writing...or my bank statement, whichever comes first.
gamiila: (oh yeah)
...that's how I'm hoping this year will end for me. Though it still might.

I can't believe I haven't been on LJ for a full fortnight when I've had no lack of things to talk about, but of course there were the continued DDoS-attacks I read about on LJ's Facebook page (it still cracks me up that LJ has a Facebook page)putting me off, and also my superstitious nature that believes that if you come on and talk about what you're most hoping to get (i.e., a job), it will likely never happen. And it still might not...but I've decided to throw caution to the wind and tell you about it anyway, as it just happens to make a good story, IMO.

The last you heard from me on the job hunt before this was that I wouldn't be adding the position of Quality Coordinator to my cv. That was a weird process to go through - I'd applied for it quite early on in my current stint of unemployment, had had an interview, and then didn't hear back from them for a week or two. Just as I was getting ready to phone and ask what was going on, they phoned and told me that they were going to re-advertise for the position as they'd had a re-think concerning the roles and responsibilities, but that my application would go forward as it had been largely due to the observations I'd made in the initial interview that they'd realised the job description as it stood had been unsatisfactory. A couple of more weeks went by and I was invited to a second interview, with both the Dutch (hosting) and European (reporting) executive managers of the organisation. The latter had to fly in from France for this especially.
What followed was the most chaotic interview I'd ever been in.

It started off as one would expect, with pleasantries and a run-through of my cv and qualifications, but then it quickly degenerated into a farce when the two gentlemen couldn't agree on anything to do with the job, the responsibilities or even the line of questioning, kept talking over and interrupting each other, and me, and had forgotten to book an interviewing room so that halfway through the meeting, we were kicked out of the one we were in and had to go searching through the building for another space to continue our conversation. We went in and out of lifts, up and down corridors and stairs, opening and closing doors at random...it was a total shambles!
To cut a long story short, I soon realised if I took this job, I'd always be piggy-in-the-middle between these two managers who simply couldn't agree on anything, and brought an end to the proceedings.

One of the criteria for continuing to qualify for unemployment benefit in The Netherlands is that one applies for a certain number of jobs every week, and keeps the Job Centre apprised of this activity. Sometimes, when I can't find the required number of suitable job postings, I will slip in a CSR application, banking on a swift "you have not been selected as you do not fit the profile"-reply. After the fiasco related above, and with the week drawing to a close, I found myself dashing one of these off at the last minute. Imagine my annoyance when, out of all my applications for that week, that is the only one I get invited to an interview for! I am so annoyed, in fact, that I decide to not do any of my usual homework and just go in a perfect blank. On the way there, I happened to read an article on Social Media and how it can be used as a powerful means of communication in business. I decided to use my newly gained knowledge for the purpose of small talk...and found myself lecturing to a captive audience! It turns out this is exactly the Manager Consumer Care's hobby horse and she is currently trying to get a Webcare-project off the ground..."In that case", I told the supervisor conducting the interview, "be sure to warn her about A, B, and C", still paraphrasing the advice I'd read not an hour before. And after I had disclosed my salary demands, I shook hands and left the building secure in the knowledge that I'd successfully scuppered any chance I might have had of securing a job in customer services. How wrong can you be!

An invitation to come in for a second interview arrived two days later. This time with the supervisor I'd met before and the Manager Consumer Care. This interview took place yesterday. And even though I went in there thinking we were still discussing my candidacy for the CSR position, I'm glad I didn't pull out as I so nearly did because -- they only went and offered me the job of Project Manager Social Media!...which unfortunately doesn't exist yet. In fact, today's the day the Manager Consumer Care presents her carefully worked out plans to the Board for their endorsement, and if it is and she can get the budget for it, only then will the job be created for me. If not, then the search for employment continues. I should know my fate by the middle of next week at the latest.

Hello

Nov. 30th, 2011 07:36 pm
gamiila: (embarrassed)
Well, LJ appears to have survived another DDoS-attack...

Last night, the CO alarm started beeping. I didn't know it was the CO alarm at first, having quite forgotten I had one. I tried to muffle the sound by pulling a pillow over my ear, but that didn't work and by first light, I gave up trying to get to sleep. Instead, I went to see if I could find whatever it was that was making such a racket; and there it was, beeping and flashing a red light, in the bottom of the hallway cupboard underneath all the rubbish I tend to shove in there and forget about. I took it out and examined it and as it said to call the emergency services straightaway in the event that it went off on the label, I did just that...only to be told that the alarm was beeping to indicate that its batteries needed changing. Made me feel like a right muppet...At least, I now know what to do if it should ever indicate a real emergency: grab the keys, grab the phone, grab the cats, and get the hell out.

In other news, I got turned down for the job of Quality Coordinator, so the hunt for employment continues. I don't expect to be back in work this year, though.

On a lighter note: I managed to obtain a ticket to David Sylvian, whose Implausible Beauty Tour 2012 will bring him to Amsterdam on March 9th. To me, seeing him in concert is the fulfillment of a long-held dream, and I'm looking forward to it with eager anticipation.
gamiila: (peek-a-boo)
I interviewed for a position as Quality Coordinator a month ago. Two weeks ago, they let me know that I was the only candidate remaining, but that they wanted to readvertise for it. Then on Thursday evening, I got the call that they would like to see me again...yet now, I'm not sure that the job's for me. I knew they'd since rewritten the job description, and asked for a copy to be sent to me -- and the role and responsibilities have been much added to. I'd have to be WonderWoman in order to fulfill their expectations now!

Meanwhile, the job hunt is not going well on other fronts. There are loads of job postings around, but hardly any at my level; and my phone remains stubbornly silent. None of the recruitment agencies I'm registered with have got back to me yet, and I'm rapidly losing heart. And then, I went and added to my misery by breaking my laptop keyboard, when I took my frustrations out on it and the keycaps started flying around my ears.

So, I'm in need of cheering up, and maybe this meme that I've stolen from [livejournal.com profile] chickenfeet2003 will do just that. We last played this game on the 28th of September, 2008, so please will you indulge me?

Instructions

1. Open up your music player. Hit shuffle.
2. Record the first few words of the first 20 songs that come up that do not give away the name of the song. Skip instrumentals, but don't skip the embarrassing ones.
3. Make hapless LJ denizens guess the song names and artists. Google is cheating.
4. Least hapless LJ denizen wins admiration.


Read more... )
gamiila: (Annie)
I attended my ex-colleague's funeral last Friday. It was a beautiful service, well-attended, with live music (she'd studied bassoon at the Royal Conservatory and been part of a chamber music ensemble); and although it was a sad occasion, still it was nice to be able to chat and catch up with people I hadn't seen in 3 years.

As for the job hunt, I got a call from the HR manager who'd interviewed me on Oct 21st, to tell me that they were still keen on meeting with me a second time, but that they had decided to re-advertise for the position in order to attract more candidates before they would commit themselves to a specific date & time for that to happen.
gamiila: (River Song)
Today, the sad news reached me that one of my former hp colleagues succombed to breast cancer last Friday. We'd kept in touch through e-mails and Facebook-messages up until July, but I didn't know she was sick until halfway through last week when her husband mentioned she only had days left...So sad, she leaves a 2-year old daughter behind.

I had a job interview with ATOS Origin this afternoon, but it didn't go well. Oh well. I didn't really see myself as a Business Consultant, anyway.

Pooped

Oct. 21st, 2011 02:34 pm
gamiila: (guitar man)
This morning, I had my first job interview since I left Apple. I think I presented myself well and gave a good accounting of my skills and past experience with the HR manager, and now it's just a wait till next Friday to see if they'll call me back for a second interview with the manager I'd be reporting to if I got the job, which is in quality management.

I'd better not plan to have any more such interviews on only a couple of hours sleep and virtually no prep again, though. Last night, I went to see Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan in concert in Rotterdam with two old friends, and it was amazing. Mark Knopfler and his band took the stage before the interval (he was emphatically not billed as the opening act) and played brilliantly, but apart from the encore (So Far Away From Me) I recognised none of his tunes, as I'm ashamed to say I haven't followed much of what he's been doing since Brothers in Arms. This is something I will have to remedy forthwith, through iTunes I think.

Then Bob Dylan and his band came on after the interval and completely blew me away. An acquaintance of mine who'd seen him perform a few years ago had told me that the evening had been a disappointment and the artist was a shadow of his former self, so I feared the worst -also because I've never been a massive fan-, but on last night's evidence I have to conclude that at 70, his performance can still pack a punch. The arrangements and vocal approach were out of this world, the sound quality was great, and the band were just so well-rehearsed they didn't need to waste any time tuning up. And when Dylan played his mouth organ...it was just sublime.

2 pictures )

Unfortunately though, after the gig had ended and we got back to the station, we found that the train service to The Hague-Schiphol-Amsterdam was severely disrupted (i.e. cancelled) because of some inconsiderate wretch who'd committed suicide by jumping in front of a train some hours before. Which meant I didn't get home until close to 3 a.m...The railway personnel assured me, though, that this setback surely meant that I would smash my interview -- which remains to be seen. However, I'm quietly confident; and even if I don't get the job, at least I now know I can do one even when half asleep ;-).

Windfall

Oct. 18th, 2011 12:21 pm
gamiila: (w00t!)
For years I've said that I'd love it if The Stone Roses re-formed. Now that they have, my reaction is a distinct 'meh'.

But...guess who's going to see Mark Knopfler & Bob Dylan live in concert in Rotterdam this Thursday? That's right...me! Last night, a friend of mine called to say she'd been given two tickets for her birthday this weekend, and would I like to come? I didn't need to think twice about answering that question ;-)

ETA: have secured my first interview. Am a bit annoyed though that after we agreed a date and time over the phone, they chose to ignore it and proposed another in their confirmation e-mail...a date I specifically told them was no good for me.
gamiila: (bow tie)
Is it bad of me that, despite the fact that I wasn't particularly busy over the weekend, I still managed not to remember that it had been two full years since my father's passing? I would have forgotten all about it if Mum hadn't mentioned it on Sunday.

We met to go to the pictures together, and we saw Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer in a really sweet film called Beginners, in which Christopher Plummer plays a 75-year old who after 44 years of marriage comes out as gay, and almost immediately falls ill with terminal cancer. Ewan McGregor plays his grief-stricken son, who has commitment issues in his own life; and another important role is filled by the dad's Jack Russell, Arthur. It didn't disappoint and I'm glad I picked it out of the meagre list of films shown here in town, most of which seem to be of the 3D-variety.

I went to pay my respects to my Dad's gravesite this morning and when I got back, I was approached for the position of Contact Center Analyst by the same recruitment company that got me the interview at Apple back in January, so with a bit of luck and even if this doesn't work out, they'll be able to help me get into another job soon.

By the way, did I mention that 2 days after I had left the Apple office, the MacBook I had left on the train was handed in there? I didn't, did I - but it did! :-)
gamiila: (bonnet)
I can be quite succinct on that: I have never (yet) thought about ending my own life. I don't know the time, the place, the circumstance, but one day I will die, and I can't see that there's any need for me to take matters into my own hands on that account.

the rest of the days )

I've become quite active in a group of unemployed people on LinkedIn in recent weeks, and yesterday I met with some of them in Utrecht, to share experiences and trade tips and ideas. One woman told me that in 2 years' time, she hadn't received a single invitation, and asked what she was doing wrong. She'd brought her cv and a sample (16!) of her 'best' cover letters and was clearly hoping someone would help her with them, so I offered to take them home and have a look...the despair is palpable in every page. She's been in higher education, but keeps applying (and being turned down) for simple data entry jobs and it's clear that she's lost all confidence. She keeps talking herself down and saying she "doesn't mind doing menial work", keeps mentioning that she's been "unemployed for a long time" and that she's "looking for a steady job in a small and friendly team" -- and after reading all these letters I'm not surprised no one's ever called her up for an interview. I want to encourage her to start applying to jobs that she's actually qualified for, to stop painting such a negative picture of herself, and to make her letter reflect an actual interest in the company and the job she's trying to get, but I'm not sure how to pour my concrit into words when she's so fragile and defensive already.

::sigh:: I can see that I'm going to be wrestling with this for the rest of the day.
gamiila: (not this shit again)
If I thought writing a good motivational cover letter was hard, now I know that purposefully setting out to write a bad one is harder still. I just sent off my first attempt and am mortified at the thought of the reception it is likely to get, but I had to do it: in order to retain my right to unemployment benefit for the next two months before I start in my new job, I have to keep complying with the condition that I apply for a minimum of two positions a week. Obviously, as I'm not currently free to accept any offers, I'm having to make reasonably sure that I don't receive any. So I've singled out call centre jobs as my best bet for being turned down, and am keeping my fingers crossed they won't want to employ someone who's so clearly over-qualified and over-experienced.

I have been taking advantage of the last days of the January sales to expand on my more serious work clobber collection. Even though the dress code at Apple isn't massively formal, I still thought it best, given that I'll be joining the management team, to stock up on something a bit more representational than jeans and cargo pants: neat yet comfy trousers, skirts with hemlines 2 fingers above the knee, and quite a few swishy cardigans. I'm a great fan of cardies: they're comfortable, they're warm and, provided you choose the right style, they're great at hiding those bits you don't want to draw attention to (in my case, the rack). My only worry now though is, that I seem to have bought a lot of stuff that is grey...but I'm hoping my co-workers won't really notice the predominantly monochrome quality of my wardrobe so much if I just invest in some colourful accessories and tights.

And can I just state that I was massively disappointed when, on logging on this morning, I found that return tickets to Sydney, Australia were still not available at 430 euros, as I had dreamed.
gamiila: (fez)
It's hard to believe that as little as ten days ago, I was stressed out of my skull with worrying that I was never going to rejoin the ranks of the gainfully employed. A week later and I'm stressing about the opportunities I'm offered to do just that. Now that I've made my choice, even if some people in my family believe it's the wrong one, I'm blissfully calm.

I met up for lunch with an old friend yesterday, someone it turned out I hadn't seen for at least 12 or 13 years. It was lovely to be able to tell him my news, as I had been dreading the prospect of having to answer the inevitable question of "So, what do you do these days?" with the euphemism that I was inbetween jobs. Over the past 9 months I've found, that people don't always know how best to react to such news.

Anyway, I received Apple's Letter of Intent first thing this morning; all it needs now for my appointment to go through is Cupertino's approval\confirmation of the terms and benefits we have agreed on, which is part of the reason why they can't let me start in the job any sooner. I have, however, suggested that I come in for a day or two before my official starting date, and at no cost to them, just to get a feel for the job -- I'm waiting for them to come back to me on that.

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