Reflections on Several Months of Stymied Employment

On October the 1st, I had a job interview for a position as a ‘library adviser’ with the City of Edinburgh Council.


They told me that because it was their first major staff intake for two years, they were holding a lot of interviews, and getting back to me might take a while – around three weeks.


Four weeks later, I emailed asking whether they could provide any feedback on why I hadn’t been offered the position.


Six weeks after the interview, in mid-November, they called me and offered me a job: part time, at Leith Library. Before I could start, I’d need to undergo a PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) check, to prove I was safe to work with children.


On December 7th, I went in to Leith Library to complete my PVG form. Gorgeous building, delightful people, kids milling around reading books and playing with plastic helicopters. I felt excited to start work; I cycled home whistling. A PVG normally takes around three weeks to go through. I told the friendly manageress that I’d be away over New Year until the 8th of January, and she said that fitted quite neatly, and we’d try to arrange a start date shortly after my return. “See you in January!” she said cheerfully as I left.


At the time I was working two jobs: Freelance writing for a property website, and a 16-hr/wk post as Social Media Co-Ordinator for an online florist. I told the florist that I wouldn’t be coming back after Christmas, as I expected to start a new job after I returned from travelling in the New Year. They had another suggestion: how about I keep writing their blog, from home?

So when I returned on the 8th of January, I had – I have – two work-from home jobs, each for one article per weekday. Ten hours work a week.

There was no PVG certificate waiting for me when I returned. After a couple of weeks, I contacted the library manageress, who offered to chase it up.


In late January, eight weeks after doing my PVG form, I was sent a medical check and bank details form – but no contract. I got in touch.


Everything was in place, I was told, except the PVG still hadn’t come through. The lady at HR tracked it for me. It turned out that the first time it was submitted it hadn’t had the right ID attached (nothing to do with me, I provided all the required ID on December 7th), so it was resubmitted with the ID – on January 23rd.


A PVG check normally takes around 3 weeks. So I can expect to wait another week and a half. All due credit, the library manageress has offered to call the PVG people tomorrow to see what can be done.


It’s early February. Four months after my interview, two and a half months after being offered the place, eight weeks after filling out my PVG form. Because of the nature of the process – where I’ve continually thought that in just one more week it’ll all be sorted – I haven’t been able to look for stopgap work, and my freelancing doesn’t even cover rent. I’m burrowing slowly through my resources.

I still want this job. I’m still excited to start. I still fully expect to love it. But bureaucracy, man. Bureaucracy is taking her own sweet time.

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