Researchers' stories: off the record

Written by 31 Oct 2012 on 31 October 2012 in Culture
Our anonymous Westminster staffers regale us with more behind-the-scenes tales

This article is from the November 2012 issue of Total Politics

Recruitment blues
We have recently been recruiting for a new researcher in our office. Such is the current jobs market that we received nearly 200 applications. Some were excellent, some were okay, and some were downright awful. Out of the applicants who weren’t invited for interview, some asked – quite fairly – for feedback. Here are a few of my responses:
  •  - “We asked for a covering letter of no more than one page of A4. Yours was nine, and referred to a non-existent CV.” 
  •  - “In your covering letter you made no reference as to why you would be suited to working for xxxx MP. What was particularly worrying was that throughout your letter, you referred to what a great asset you would be to our company.”
  •  - “You used no less than four different fonts and two different font sizes in your covering letter.” 
  •  - “Your covering letter, which was admittedly very well written, referenced your experience in campaigning for your local party and your experience of previously working for Claire Ward. You do realise you were applying for a job with a Conservative MP?” 
  •  - “We thought there were better candidates, more suited to the role. We were also slightly perplexed as to why you included your mother as one of your references on your CV…”
Cheap to run
Like many offices, each year we play host to a number of work experience students. Some of them can prove costly, especially if they haven’t discovered the wonders/value of the local Tesco meal deal. My MP noted recently, when having a young Muslim girl during Ramadan, that it was quite cost-effective having Muslim work-experience students who fast. In fact, to my surprise, she asked whether we could ensure that we do it more often. Her reasoning: “Keeps the expenses down, doesn’t it?”
For better or for worse
My MP represents a highly diverse constituency and it’s not uncommon for him to receive invites to his constituents’ weddings, the inscription proudly proclaiming that he is “the Guest of Honour”. Most of the time it’s down to me to send his apologies, as my MP doesn’t have a clue who they are, so I was a little surprised when one morning he handed me an invitation, with a note on it saying that he would accept and attend the wedding. I called and told the family concerned, who were understandably delighted. The day after the wedding, my MP called and asked why he had been sent along to this particular celebration. I told him he had accepted it, and that he hadn’t said anything else about it. Apparently, he had shown up and not known anyone. It turns out there are quite a few Abdul Mohammeds in his jurisdiction. He thought the invite was from a family nearby who helped with his campaign at the 2010 election. 


Tags: Issue 52, Researchers' Stories

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