Little Miss Awkward

I just can’t help it!!

8.5% unemployment rate, hmmm

money1.jpg I knew finding a job was never going to be easy in France with very limited French. I was not looking to set the workplace alight,  I am just looking for something to put a roof over my head and food in my already fat belly 🙂 Also the urgency to get a job pretty soon was to reassure my dear mum that I was not going to reach the point of desperation that would see me becoming a ‘working girl’. And each passing day that I am unemployed, means (in her head) that I am edging ever so closely to that life. With daily phone calls which consists of her telling me if things get bad, I can always come home (love her!!), and constant reminders to be careful – finding a job was going to be an act of compassion for her. Besides I have run out of Frasier DVDs to watch.

Emailing out my CV to lots of agencies and making phone calls was not coming up with the goods, so I decided to do some pavement pounding. Did some research on the net, made sure I looked respectable enough to be taken seriously, armed with my map, mp3 player, chewing gum, pen and bits of scrap paper, off I went.

As I was heading to my destination, I came across a temp agency, sounds just the ticket. I bounced in all enthusiastic and literally yelled “Bonjour” in my most confident tone. Sitting there were two women at separate desks. The brunette nearest the door acknowledged me, and I go on to explain that I am looking for work, and explained my situation and asked if I would be able to submit my CV. She then tells me in broken english that this was not the agency for me and that I should go to the agency round the corner. I look at her and asked her ‘how does she know this was not the agency for me?’. She apparently did not understand this. The blonde lady behind her tries to explain to me that their agency specialises in technical skills, and then indicated architecture, or something to do with drawing. She then asks me what my background and qualifications were. Which is exactly what the brunette should have asked me in the first place, before being dismissive by telling me this was not the agency for me. The hard nosed cow did not know shit about me, how dare she make assumptions on whether this was an agency that was suitable for me by just looking at me.

To say I was pissed, would be clearly understating matters. She needs to thank her lucky stars that my French was not good enough to curse her out because I was willing to drop every ounce of civility, restraint and the good manners instilled in me from birth to do just that. For all she knew I could have been some hot shot technical whizz (ok a bit far fetched for me but still :-)) I know my way around Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Flash but she doesn’t know that. I probably had better qualifications than this trollop.

The blonde lady actually looks like she is making an attempt to be helpful. She messes about on her computer, makes a phone call which from my understanding drew a blank. She then comes out of the office to show me another agency. I tell her that her colleague’s customer service was crap, she looks slightly embarrassed, I thank her generously for at least making the effort to assist me. I walk over to the agency she pointed out.

Still spitting blood, I walk into the second agency, where I was greeted by a smiling lady. As I begin having a conversation with her she offers me a seat. She asks my background, asks how long I am in Lyon for, she then proceeds to make a phone call to another member of staff based in their international branch. The person in question is not there but she gives me her card and tells me to email over my CV and she will pass it on to the relevant party. She tells me how nice it is for her to speak english because she rarely gets the chance to practice it. I tell her that her english is near perfect (a bit of flattery and humour doesn’t hurt) and she is pleased. On my leaving, she says “goodbye” and I say “au revoir”, it was all very ‘We are the world’.

Massive difference in approach, I came out of there feeling like I have been listened to, taken seriously and above all it gave me some glimmer of hope. It might all come to nothing but at least I felt that someone had given me enough respect to listen to me.

After giving my new French chum a debrief of the day, he explained that the lady at the first agency was probably too lazy too try to speak to me because of the language barrier. But this for me was not a good enough excuse. I knew the job hunt was not going to be a walk in the park but I didn’t think it was going to be a walk in the jungle either!!


May 10, 2007 - Posted by | Blogroll, France, Rant, Work


  1. Some people just suck at customer service and should not be in the jobs they are currently in.
    I’ve been looking to change jobs and I am horrified at some of the agency people I come across. Problem is that in some weird way they hold all the cards and you are dependent on them to make your case to the client.

    Comment by chitty | May 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. Hi there! A newcomer to your blog, and really enjoying it.
    The bit that really got me was the Frasier DVDs. My boyfriend’s collection was a deciding factor for me when I was considering moving in!
    Best of luck with things in Lyon, I really hope it works out for you. I’ll be reading!
    Despina 🙂

    Comment by Miss Despina | May 16, 2007 | Reply

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