Saturday, February 23, 2008

What a week!

Last week, I did a selection test at NMBS.
Yesterday, I got the result : 13,5/20, which is enough to go to the next round. But I'm not sure I will do the interview in the next round, given recent developments.

On Wednesday, I had another interview, this time for a job at VUB. Before I got home, they contacted me to announce I got the job. Since then I have made some arrangements to speed up the procedure for appointing my successor at my current job and got to an agreement with my new employer when to start working.

Today is my birthday. I've received a lot of messages, for which I'm grateful.
Tonight I will do something relaxing, going out for diner and maybe watch a film at the cinema.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Selection test #2 : trip to VUB

I went, I told them what I know and I got a job!

This morning I went to Brussels, for the second time this week, for a job interview and written selection test, this time at VUB. The job I applied for is very similar to what I do now, i.e. system administration of linux servers.

The written test, in the morning, went well, explaining some linux and digital library terms and answering some sysadmin related questions. In the afternoon, I had an interview, with more questions about linux, libraries, me and my motivation. And although I was quite nervous, it went well.

On the way home, I got a call, telling me I was ranked first and congratulating me with my appointment as sysadmin.

I didn't expect to hear from them so soon. I thought it would take at least a day or two, before they would let me know the outcome of their deliberation. But it didn't take that long, so I'm very excited getting that job.

I have some thinking to do and arrange a few things, soon, as they would like me to start in March already.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Waiting for reactions

As I'm actively looking for a new job, during the last few weeks, I've send out some applications already. But after sending them, comes a very boring and nerve-wrecking stage : waiting for reactions.

Some companies have a web application or a dedicated E-mail address for sending applications. Other have a good policy on handling applications. Both result in a (semi-)automatic answer, thanking you for your application, confirming your application was received or instructions on when to expect an answer (or not), or what to do when you haven't received an answer within a certain period of time.

Others send out letters or E-mails thanking you for your application, but regret to have to inform the vacancy is already filled or you don't seem to satisfy all the criteria needed for the job, wishing you good look on finding a job.
But, in case you're not suitable for the job, they never tell you why you're not fitting in. Was it something in the presentation letter? Was I too modest, or not elaborative enough? Did I write something offending? Didn't I apply to all courtesy and protocol which is needed in writing a presentation letter?
Or do I miss some experience or education? Did they put more value in the optional prerequisites, than was laid out in the vacancy?
I probably will never know, but it keeps me wondering.

But some don't react to your application at all, which is actually quite rude. If they would just send a short message informing you don't fit in (like I mentioned in the previous paragraph), you can stop waiting for an answer. But if no reaction comes, when can you stop hoping for a reaction?

But fortunately, you only need one job, so if you send out enough applications, some reach companies of the first type, resulting hopefully in a positive reaction or an invitation for further testing or an interview. And once you have a job, it doesn't matter some applications never get answered. But while you're waiting, it can be quite stressful.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Selection test #1.1

Yesterday, I had to wake up early. 6:30 is early enough during the week, but on a Saturday it's even more unpleasant. The reason I had to get up this early, was because I had to be in Brussels at 9 o'clock to participate in a selection test for a new job.

Despite the early time, I managed to get out of bed, take a shower and eat some breakfast. Then I headed for the train station. Because I left a little early I managed to get a train earlier, giving me more time to get a connection at Gent-Sint-Pieters, on my way to Brussels South

The building where I was expected to take the test is near Brussels South, so I just had to cross the street to get there. Being a bit early, I had to wait in the hall, watching the other contestants arrive. At 8:50 we were let in, good thing I planned to take a train arriving at 8:30, because the next one arrived at 8:54 at the station, leaving me only minutes to locate the building, getting there and finding the entrance.

Before taking the test we got an introduction about the company, the kind of work we would have to do, once employed, and an overview of the selection procedure, which was about to start a few minutes later with a written selection test.

The written test was multiple choice, with 40 questions, divide in 3 categories. To discourage guessing answers, every wrong answer was penalized with 1/3 of a point. For every good answer one was awarded one point. In the end one had to score 10/20 to get to next round, which is an oral test.
The three categories were mechanics, electricity (common knowledge) and electricity ( power or signal ). It went rather well, considering that it has been some years now since I graduated and some of my knowledge of these topics is rather dusty. And I didn't have time to review everything before the test.
I managed to solve 28 of 40 questions, of which I'm quite certain.
So now it's waiting for the results. The oral test is planned in two weeks, which leaves me some time to review some more of my previous courses. If you catch me with a book on electrical motors, you'll know why.

BTW: Thanks to Tine, for letting me borrow a non-programmable calculator for this test.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Preparing for a new job

I mentioned earlier that I decided to stop studying and start working again.
Last month I've been looking for job opportunities, sending applications and preparing for interviews and selection tests.
Tomorrow and next Wednesday I'm invited for selection tests. The test I'm taking tomorrow is for a technical job, which is in line with my bachelor diploma in electromechanics.
The test and interview on Wednesday is for a systems administration job (IT), managing computers and servers running Linux. It's a bit like the job I currently have at Ghent University.
I also made an appointment with my previous employer, to talk about a job offer.

Today I decided to quit my current job by the beginning of the Easter Holidays and start working on a new job, somewhere near 1st of April. I'm hopeful to find a suitable job by then.

So the next few weeks, I will be doing interviews, waiting for reactions, finding a successor for my current job at the university and finish some small projects.