An Alien in my own Barbados

“I know there are many like myself who cannot find work (because we are over-educated). It’s really ironic. Tell me what do we do? Join the guys on the block? Put on ski mask and rob the banks? Turn to the world of prostitution?  Sell Cornwell? Tell me for I have run out of answers!”

Unemployment gets me down

by a BFP reader

For almost a year now I have been for lack of a better word ‘forced’ to listen to Down to Brass Tacks, although I must confess that at most times I do enjoy the lively exchanges between the public and moderators. I use the word forced because after almost a year I cannot find a decent job in my county Barbados and had to content myself with staying at home listening to Down To Brass Tacks.

I heard it was mentioned more that once on Down to Brass Tacks about persons complaining that they can’t find work. The moderator even suggests work is out there and persons really do not want to work.  I totally disagree with what is being said because there are some of us who would like to be given the opportunity to prove our worth.

Take my situation for instance; young ambitious, versatile and a self starter who studied up to tertiary level. I have vast work experience from banking to clerical officer and manager. I even owned my own business but due to the recession and problems I encountered was forced to close the doors on that.

After this I searched high and low for employment and even accepted one job that was not to my standards. A job is supposed to be a job or so they say, but I beg to differ. After some frustrations on the job I decided that Barbados seemed to have nothing to offer me. I left this island and spent some time in two other countries (Grand Caymans and Anguilla) seeking work. I did not receive work in these countries because of work permit issues. They said that due to the recession times they were offering the work to the locals first, which is understandable.  I must add that these countries saw me as highly qualified – unlike my own country. (I believe the saying, that you cannot be a king in your own country.)

I returned home and have been seeking work for months. I have been to about 50 interviews; I am not joking. I have written over 100 job applications, called around every day to places and still have had no success. At the interviews I attended I was told that I was over-qualified or I just had no response. This caused me to wonder what I had done incorrectly. I even wrote back to some of these companies asking for opinions as to why I did not get these jobs and some responded that I had no experience in those areas I applied for.

Allow me to read this letter to you. It is the latest response I received for a position I saw advertised in our newspaper.

Dear M………,

Thank you for taking the time to apply for the position of Reservation Agent at Company X.  I very much appreciate your professional experience and skills and I enjoyed interviewing you for the position. As you know, a number of candidates were interviewed, and unfortunately, you were not selected for this job position at this time.  However, Company X will save your contact details and resume for any future job opportunities suitable to your experience. Please do not hesitate to apply for other open positions advertised by Company X, and should you wish to discuss your interview skills, strengths and weaknesses, please call me to arrange a time to do so.  I wish you success with your job search and in your professional career, and thank you for your interest in Company X.

Kind Regards,
Mrs……

Let me show my reply to this lady…

Dear Miss P,

In response to your letter. I very much feel that I am placed at a disadvantage. What is my reason for saying this?

You have stated below that you very much appreciate my professional experience and skills and enjoyed interviewing me for the position. Since I was never called to an interview I am convinced you have confused me with another person.

May I suggest that you take another look at my resume. I have attached it again so this time I would be evaluated on my own merit. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss my interview or lack of one.

I am looking forward to hearing a response from you. Do have a wonderful day.

Regards,
Miss P……….

Of course I had no response to this. I can go on and on about my experiences but time does not permit it.

Now tell me: if you do not give persons a chance to prove their worth how would they know they are worthwhile? I know there are many like myself who encounter similar problems just because we have decided to opt for an education. It’s really ironic. Tell me what do we do? Join the guys on the block? Put on ski mask and rob the banks? Turn to the world of prostitution?  Sell Cornwell? Tell me for I have run out of answers!

I’m not voting in the coming election

Most of the time all I hear on these call-in programs is politics, politics. What good is that to me? We are all affected by our own problems and there are no systems or support for persons like myself who have tried and still trying to earn money legally and respectfully. Election is coming up in just a few months; Bajans are expected to go to the polls.

Well, you won’t see me there at the polls, for I would rather ‘pick a fair!’

Editor’s note: BFP changed some of the formatting, provided titles and shortened some sections. We have not published the author’s name as they didn’t indicate if this was their intent. Of course, if they let us know we’ll be happy to give them credit.

26 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business, Economy, Education

26 responses to “An Alien in my own Barbados

  1. b

    i sincerely empathise, but may i offer a humble suggestion. Companies often use form or standard letters for “rejections”. The tone of your stated reply, though understandable will certainly NOT get you a second shot. Though often tempted to do so, one should try to avoid “burning” your bridges.
    I am also sorry to tell you that one of the side effects of our educational thrust post-independence, is that your “tertiary education” has been devalued, simply because everybody has one. So you”ll find yourself not fully qualified for what you want, but overqualified for what is available.
    I suppose what i am saying, is even though the struggle is long, if you allow bitterness at your situation to colour your reactions, you will not be able to re-package yourself to beat the competition.

  2. kimesha

    My dear sister, I feel your pain and bitterness. Like all of us, – I am not so young – we were indirectly taught that as long as we go to school and “get a good learning” that we would automatically be successful in gaining employment. You are going to have to erase that philosopy from your brain first of all; then try to get more in touch with your Divine Self within in, in order that you would draw on your inner and vast reserve of self control. In other words, do not let your disappointment cause you to remain bitter it wil cause you to become mentally ill. Also, do not cherish those negative thoughts or you will find that persons of like thought will be magnetized to you and seek to be in your company which in turn could result in your being led into temptation to “get rich quickly without having a career”. May your God arise within you and give you the strength to take this advice to heart and follow these simple instructions.

  3. V Crimmins

    I have to say that I would NEVER hire an over qualified person as an employee because it never ends well.

    Have you considered reinventing yourself? That is what I would do… become a consultant/contractor via a website like elance.com. Look at the work requests posted on the site for background. Sit down and make a list of your skills and start with things you love to do… talk with people? write? research? shop? Create a new fangled resume that offers those skills/services. With high speed internet and Skype – you can work from Barbados for people anywhere in the world. You speak lovely English. People in the US are weary of clipped Indian sub-continent English that is difficult to understand.

    If I wanted a list (name, address, phone, email) in an XL spreadsheet of XYZs (chiropractors in FL or occupational therapists in Illinois) – could you do that?

    Read Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Work Week.

    Think about focusing on something via elance.com (or its equivalent) where you can develop some niche expertise so you can eventually charge a set fee for a result (exotic birthday gifts, for example) because you know where to find them and have a list of “suppliers” and a list of suggestions for every inquiry. You want to evolve into more than $x an hour.

    Start out via elance as a Virtual Personal Assistant – learn the business and then open a BB Personal Assistant business and employ your fellow over qualified local people. A VPA who works for a VPA company is more valuable because there is “backup” for vacations and illness and choice of assistants increases good matches with clients. Billing can be via PayPal.

    Good luck and be VERY VERY grateful that no one offered you a job !!!!!!!!

  4. I have to agree with the writer 100% – I have even applied to people who owned the company and therefore can make the Big Choice, but they leave it to their HR to make the final decision… Guess what? The choice HR made absconded with the Co’s pay-packets, man, did I laugh!

    Another post I tried out for, I was told I was a bit “MATURE” (this was a Client Services Executive at an Ad Agency) yet the man who got the post? His own Ad Agency collapsed, he’s older than me and is made a Business Development Director – so the post did not previously exist, he failed at his own business and yet he is elevated before he even hits the ground? The agency is yet to have hired a Client Services Exec, BTW!

    While in Private Sector – Vic Fernandes at Starcom is paid $800 per 1 day of his Market Vendor (400 in morning and same for repeat, I making no sport) telling old Internet Jokes and not even Cricket or News analysis as he used to do… This is 800×5 = $4,000 per WEEK, separate from his monthly salary which is separate from his Travel, Entertainment, Cell and Landline “Allowances” and you wonder why those who leave Starcom try not to return? The only way to succeed like Veoma Ali is laugh at his jokes and get him coffee and bring in Ads to support his pittance of wages! Alex McDonald saw what Fernandes got and decided to do it for himself at LIME… He and Vic are two peas in a pod!

    If one accepts their own feet are to prevent you from flying up your potential boss’ arse then you can go far – honestly? I think both in my case and with the letter-writer’s; there is a fear of competency in Barbados. If you seem better equipped to do the job than those who hire you, why show them up? Rather than employers using this as a means of stepping up their game they seek to employ minions of no discernible Game and thus no threat to the status quo…

    There have been many nights I consider robbing or stealing product and re-selling as my Family live on Ramen Noodles with Cheese if we can get as it’s my children who make about $800 per month each and keep us only slightly afloat, I really could not give a shyt to either Bees nor DEM’s unless they have a guaranteed salary waiting for me, I cry hot bitter tears every day in sheer frustration… 1937 all over again is just a matter of WHEN not IF and god help us all!

  5. what will they think of next

    Everyone waiting for someone else to give them something.

  6. what will they think of next

    Employing overqualified at an establishment leads to nothing but trouble.

  7. MarketWatcher

    I get amazed at the people who are “working’ – the lack of empathy towards those with certain particular skills sets who cannot find jobs. People a WORD RECESSION is on. Are there more jobs “out there” in Barbados than anywhere else. The moderators of those programmes often talk a load of wash and misguide the public. They do not take bus so they do not understand what they general public is saying – except for the rfew regular old people who call in to programmes because they have nothing else to do.

    Barbadians can be so flipping cruel – even ina recession and so insensitive. I am an “overqualified” person; whoever says it never ends well is intimidated? they told me I needed to be more qualified; i went and got my Master’s and can’t find a job. Now what’s left but to leave the country – truly…but you know what? there aren’t any jobs anywhere else either. Haven’t those critics of overqualified people listened to the news recently?

  8. robert ross

    @ b

    I think your assessment is spot on. Soon the minimum qualification for security guards will be a Degree in History.

  9. Tony Webster

    Lots of well-intentioned, seasoned advice here, young lady. You should start your own business, instead of perpetuating the old idiom, of “getting” a job. All I have behind my name, is a full-stop, but at least, I have come to appreciate that the purpose of a formal education was not to teach one WHAT to think but HOW to think. After successfully negotiating your way through Cave Hill , I am a little disappointed that you do not have a wider perspective. If even now, you are over-qualified, I fail to see the logic of going after your masters!!?? Just do a Bill gates, and cut your own path forward. There is ALWAYS a niche out there, …just waiting to de discovered. BTW, you might just mention to the Cave Hill mandarins, when you have a moment, that there is a limit to the society’s absorbtive capacity to take up graduates. Equally, there is a limit to the society’s capacity to pay for free tertiary education- as Dr. Leonard Shorey’s study clearly set forth: anything “free” is easily- and very mistakenly- taken as an entitlement, and inevitably demeans the value of the very prize being sought. Human worth is very much more subtle- and wonderful- than “a job”. Witness Mother Teresa, the beloved Mandiba etc etc. God Bless and good luck the both to you.

  10. LM

    These responses are ridiculous, shame on you, the problem in Barbados when finding work is that companies here insist on getting work permits and hiring their foreign friends even though I know there are many Bajans qualified to serve in the position available.

    And don’t tell me that you can’t heir someone over qualified. Have you been overseas lately? Have you gone to a fast food restaurant such as McDonalds?

    If you have you would realize that a majority of the people working behind the counter are no longer teenagers but “over qualified” middle age women who need to work to support their families because it is exactly that a recession . Start supporting your country men Barbados or we will all end up like consolidated finance and lose are jobs to Trinidadians, then where will we be?

  11. Feeling your pain sister!
    Do you know that the majority of Almond Beach Workers, worked for 17 years straight with out unemployment thanks to Mr Ralph Taylor. and now they have lost their jobs in this harsh unemployment environment, and after adding millions to the coffers of the NIS, they have been told that people who have been reaping the sweets of their labour and have gotten unemployment is still getting the 9 months,but, the Almond workers will only get 6 months. the Government is going to take the money we work so hard for and is calling it excess , but we the workers, do not have those three extra months to fall back on ,if we do not find a job, you tell me is that fair.
    I am piss off

  12. whataloadarubish

    I think you need to settle for a job far bellow your ambitions, the people selling coconuts or cleaning cars are making an honest living and you’re at home sitting on your ass complaining and thinking about robbing people!
    You seem to have an issue with a certain Starcom employee, not sure why you are so Jealous of his income, as I’m sure he has worked very hard to get where he is, so you better get started before your thinking lands you in Dods!!!

  13. mary_clyne

    Why was the article I wrote taken down and filled under, some one name Leacock?

  14. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Whataloadofrubbish

    Sometimes I wonder when we seek to criticize if we do so out of plain ignorance or have our callousness as a people gone to new heights. You Mr/Mrs Rubbish fits the perfect description of an ass whose hardened heart and nonsensical drivel personifies all that is wrong in this country. Indeed
    you are entitle to your own opinion and certainly you have given. But does that give you the right to malign the unemployment pain this obvious female or male is feeling? You think that everyone is cut out to wash cars and sell coconuts you “Johnny of an A-hole.” Fair employment opportunities do not exist in this fair land. Its who you know and what you are willing to do that generates the jobs bout here. And that goes for both the private sector and public sector. You think everyone is a politician’s lackey reaping the sweets of kickbacks or conjuring instant named companies to hoard the “big wad of money” that makes politicians and their families and friends rich. Bet you ain’t got one ass to worry about so you can talk shite about this lady or gentlemans’ plea. You know how it feels to not have money Idiot!!!!

  15. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Whataloadofrubbisn

    Did not read that second note from Overqualified Jr. I take back all that I have said towards you. She deserves chastisement.

  16. kimesha

    When you improve yourself in the Civil Service you stand the chance of being told that you have “outgrown” the department, even though your quaification is relevant to the said clients of the department! To God be the glory!

  17. AgentShark

    @V Crimmins: You and people with your thinking are truly the reason Barbados lacks innovation! Seriously, extremely successful entrepreneurs in the US have the opposite thinking. They hire people smarter than them.

    @Writer: MOVE OUT of the Caribbean! Do not let Barbados hold you back from your dreams.

    @Overqualified Jr: Banks in Barbados charge an arm and a leg for collecting money online. You need a merchant account to transfer large sums of money from PayPal else it is money laundering. Banks are holding the Caribbean back from what could be millions of dollars in foreign exchange through e-commerce.

  18. AgentShark

    @MarketWatcher: All of that talk about people not finding jobs overseas is foolishness (at least in technology). People do not want to move to where the work is or do not want to accept lower pay. The recession hit hard for people who were spending more than they earned.

    Technology is one area where you can never be overqualified, because it constantly changes.

  19. Analyzer

    If you can even get part-time or temporary work and have a good attitude and show your worth, it can turn into permanent work or can lead you to another job. My first job I was offered in town was by someone when I was doing some charity work and then I was always employed after that because I had something to put on my CV. Also, have you tried taking out an ad in the Advocate classifieds under the ‘Position Wanted’ section. They used to be cheaper than the Nation. If I was still young and able to work, I would think outside the box too such as someone suggested starting your own business whether it be lawncare, handyman, baking for diabetics are a few examples I can think of. There is a company in the States I have heard of called ‘Task Rabbit’, I wish I had the energy to do it myself – you should look into it. Sometimes people ask, do you know a good mason or painter or carpenter – hey go to the equivalent of Task Rabbit Barbados web-site. Do you know someone that can help you with a web-site? Those are a few of my ideas. You are young, sometimes you have to take risks and work hard.
    Oh yeah, my favorite chocolate in Whitman’s sampler are the ‘Molasses chews’ – why doesn’t someone in Barbados make these? I love them and we make molasses here or you can buy it in a jar in the supermarket. I will be your first customer if you can make ‘molasses chews’ and I wouldn’t have to buy those expensive foreign box of chocolates and eat all the other ones that I don’t really like all that much – oh yes and think dark chocolate (good for you!) – just an idea.

  20. Nan Omeiah

    @AgentShark According to PayPal website – money can be withdrawn to a
    credit or debit card in BB…. no merchant account is needed – just a checking account with a debit card.

  21. Moneybrain

    I think you have missed an opportunity to communicate what you are qualified to do, your experience, what your education details are etc. You MUST remain positive and search for SOLUTIONS.

    Playing the victim “woe is me” will only mess with your psychology, and that is critical because your mantra must be, DETERMINATION and PERSISTENCE! NOTHING beats those 2 words!

    Bdos always needs certain abilities eg Accountants. Could you transition into that high demand career? Could you search for other high demand areas, identify them? Could you go into SALES?

    Please note that far too many young people have been convinced that getting a degree is the answer and that is not true! Getting the right degree makes sense. In Canada more than 20% of UNI Grads end up going to Community college to really learn something that will help them get a job/ career. Good parents would have helped direct them away from dead end Uni courses eg my Guyanese friend just told his daughter, on my advice that she must take business and not POLI SCI if she wants his financial support!

    Please realise that this econ situation will likely pertain for at least 5-10 yrs MORE! It wont be easy!

  22. Analyzer

    He or she still has the opportunity. Interesting post Moneybrain. The government is encouraging people to become entrepreneurs. If ‘Alien’ can innovate or has the skills to come up with something, it is worth a try instead of sitting and just listening to the radio and coming up with negative ideas. I see Alien had a business and has work experience, it would be helpful to know what area of work he was in. Hello, Alien let us know, maybe someone can help you but not if you are considering robbing people.

  23. 43

    I totally relate to what the young lady wrote. Barbados is just too small for fair chances. Middle aged bosses are threatened by qualified young people who live in a new age were opportunities to study and excel are free. Your boss certainly doesn’t want an overqualified junior staff member upstaging him!Why pay you for your qualifications when you can pay someone less qualified less money to do the same job? Secondly the most obvious answer is nepotism! In Barbados it is the norm to hire friends/ family for posts that they are wholly unqualified to do.Case in point the Alexandra School. Mr. Broomes hired his cousin, daughter and niece! The result of course is that junior staff are then forced to do their work and the work of their incompetent superiors.
    My advice -go elsewhere if possible. Most professionals are doing the same. The Brain Drain of Barbados will continue and the growth of the country will grind to a halt.

  24. kimesha

    I am not defending Mr Broomes but he has done nothing less than a certain government boss who made sure that her two friends who are of the same persuasion as ‘him’ became 2/3rds of her management team and are now trying to send them to short term training all over the world. Mr Broome could not have been able to hire those persons if he did not have the support of the Chief Personnel Officer, the Chairman of the Board of Management and the Public Service Commission. We have to accept it because there are those of us who are now too old to go elsewhere or we do not have the first plane fare to go seeking a better opportunity elsewhere.

  25. wstraughn

    @Alien

    I can empathize … please don’t give in to despair … you are sound very intelligent , I hope you were able to use some of the advice given here. Has there been any change in your status? One thing I would add though… networking . You seem to be a one person army, but do you have any backup, i.e friends or family to help you in your search? to send you a tip? Even Rambo had a friend… what field are you in, what type of job are you looking for? You didn’t mention this , and a number of people read this post… you would only need of them to come thru for you… Also.. have you considered volunteering your services for free in stead of being home all the time? i.e a church , or other assistance group to just help others even less fortunate than yourself? I know it sounds crazy, but perhaps in thinking of others and helping others who need help even more than you do , you will be rewarded… besides what do you have to lose? I do wish I could help you in a more positive way… You know it’s almost funny.. lots of us get hell on the job and wish we could go somewhere else, forgetting the long long days when we didn’t have any job at all. I was well into my 20s before I ever earned even $0.25 … (There is something about your post that has me a bit unsettled though … you said you have vast work experience , yet you’re young… how many jobs have you ever held? why did you leave them? Is there more to this post than you’re telling ?) Good luck with you quest…

  26. 81

    iteresting points you people have but how can you do all these great things if you don’t have money?