As a job seeker I’m fed up with the Dutch government
After I was laid off by Neomax last year in April I was unemployed for some months. After some time I got a new job when the IT secondment company Tergos found me on LinkedIn. Through them I could start in July as an application manager with Viterra. I have much appreciation for how Tergos treated me, because they matched the salary that I earned at ID Ware International and offered an education budget of € 1.500 a year. The only thing which I don’t like is a condition in my contract which states that the contract ends if the customer (Viterra) decides to end my placement there. This condition is supposed to be removed if my contract is renewed in July.
In some way it is frustrating, that I applied for jobs so intensively during those three months without success and was then found by recruiters who could easily land me in a new job. It was no different with my last three jobs.
During those three months of unemployment I still thought that I would prefer a job as a policy advisor with an organization of the national government the most. It was my dream job which I wanted since I had graduated for my master’s degree in Public Administration in 2012. I was also looking for a job as an IT Service Manager, which was my second best option.
Since 2012 I have applied so many times for policy advisor jobs. Since that year I used a spreadsheet to keep track of the job applications I submitted. This was crucial to maintain an overview of the progress and response on my job applications. This spreadsheet contains 192 job applications, of which 70 or up to 90 were probably for policy advisor jobs.
A part of them led to job interviews. Sometimes I had the idea that I was doing well in an interview, but I never got past the first round of interviews. The fact that I had an excellent master’s thesis and a scientific publication on my resume didn’t appear to matter much. I don’t consider my skill in dealing with job interviews to be above average, I’d probably score slightly below average. When I asked the HR-departments of the Dutch government for feedback, one of the most important factors appeared to be that the amount of competition on the vacancies for policy advisors was ridiculous. Often several dozens of job applications for one vacancy.
For a long time I thought I would just continue on with applying for these jobs, if you persevere you win, right? By now I’m fed up with it and I think it was a mistake to study public administration. Because I held open the door to a job as a policy advisor for so long I started to lag behind in my IT career in terms of certifications and career development. Even though I currently earn a salary that is comparable to that of experienced university-educated policy advisors without any technical certifications in IT (just ITIL Practitioner, PRINCE2 Foundation and Professional Scrum Master I) I still consider this deficit to be damaging.
The point is that application managers have application specific knowledge which is not easily reused in other jobs and which adds little to a resume. That’s why I consider it so important to acquire more widely usable knowledge through the well-known technical certifications, such as those of Microsoft. If I put serious effort in getting certified I will become suitable for jobs which are substantively more interesting and which offer an even better salary. That’s why I’ve decided to target a job as Cloud Engineer with a specialization in Microsoft Azure, which is in high demand in the market now. By now I have so much experience in the IT sector on my resume that it would be a waste if I wouldn’t develop it further.
I might never be one of the 9% of Dutch employees who feel engaged with their job. For a long time it was my dream to be able to contribute to the common good, whether it was government policy to fight climate change, promoting the use of open standards or creating a budget. Unfortunately it is not to be for me, with a job in IT. I will probably remain part of the largest group of 80% of employees who function adequately, but who don’t have true passion for their job. This is not a bad thing, I would still be a capable Cloud Engineer even without intrinsic motivation for it.
About twenty years ago my father said that those who don’t have luck in the game, do have luck in love. He said this while he played a board game with us and was losing. Though he meant it more as a joke than being serious, it is true in my case. I have Stephanie as my loving wife and two daughters. All of us are healthy, we have sufficient financial resources, live in a nice house, in a good neighborhood, with a fun allotment garden near a beautiful beach.
I might not be able to get the satisfaction out of my work that I had hoped, but it didn’t stop me from finding other life goals. Like executing a ‘tube ride’ on my surfboard. Learning kiteboarding. Writing a ‘featured article’ for the English Wikipedia. Starting a YouTube channel with cooking video’s on Dutch and Indo cuisine. I have accepted that I’ll probably never get that dream job and have moved on.