Editor’s note: This is another post by Alex – this time as an exception it is on Monday. He is still keeping the Friday slot on TMP.
I have now finished the two week work-based training course conducted by ICM (Institute of Customer Management), and if I’m honest I’m rather sad it’s over. Interacting with the group gave us worn down job-seekers a new spring in our steps and motivation. New hope is born within through the engaging nature of each session and the teachings and practices carried out by the tutor brought us together and cleared away some of those awkward cobwebs we otherwise entangle ourselves in.
As I clarified last week the course is not just a production line for filling temporary job positions. We all have direct contact with the tutor after the completion of the course. There is a Facebook group in which all members can help and support each other, whether you know each other in person or not. It’s like joining a club; and as members we all receive the same beneficial support. So any problems regarding job applications, CVs, job interviews and much more can be queried through ICM. Also, as a direct link to the Job Centre we have an ally on our side if anything goes wrong.
One particular job we all had the opportunity to apply for was with the company Aegis. Aegis is a global company who provide support via inbound calls (incoming only) for the customers of other businesses, such as broadband and media providers. They are not a sales company, but instead rely on their employees to provide an open and friendly contact for people who are having all sorts of issues with their services, and eradicate those irritating automated phone menus for inquiries we all love to hate.
Midway through the second week I was picked as one of the select few who would be interviewed live in front of the whole group as a role play scenario for what would be a customer service position for the same company, Aegis. This task is the best example of the whole course whereby I really did believe the nerves would get the better of me, especially having an audience, but the result was that I was actually confident, well projected and a good example of how to conduct yourself as an interviewee. This was one of many proud moments of mine over the last fortnight and a good reason to look back on that time with fondness and appreciation.
Later in the month we will all be attending, as a group, a tour of the company here in Manchester. Aegis are looking to employ a whole array of new teams up and down the country, and whilst it’s not my greatest of all ambitions to work solely with telephones, as I do feel I have better talents in face-to-face customer service, I’m more than willing to adapt and give it a try. It will act as good practice for the skills we’ve gathered and particulars we’ve covered with a guaranteed interview for each of us on the same day, or thereabouts. This time around I feel I can be more prepared, less nervous and have sharper mental tools to bring with me. One thing to consider that I hadn’t previously is that the interviewer themselves may be just as nervous as they have a responsibility to the company and can be under pressure to get results. I just have to present myself as… myself – a likable, talented and good natured person. Surely they can’t say no, yes?
I would advise anyone who is unemployed to ask their Job Centre about these courses. It is a stark difference to experience I have had years ago whereby the notion was more of shoving people into assembled, non-paid work that bares little caring for the individual. In 2002, in a different period of unemployment, I attended a short programme that used job seekers to fill in spreadsheets, with no reward or prospect at the end. It was mandatory and had an atmosphere no one was too willing to enter.
ICM is entirely different as it puts the smile back on our faces – those very smiles are key for producing devoted and enthusiastic workers. No one wants to be at a job in which they rue the morning alarm clock. And so with receipt of more personal care, team building and friendly advice I can envisage mornings worth leaping out of bed for. I may even one day skip down the street, though I’m still only on chapter one of the handbook for better quality of life.
So, let’s turn the page…