Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Some unexpected developments on the job front

You apply for a job, not just any job, a dream job in a library close to home. You pull out all stops in your application, co-opting your colleagues into editing and checking your resume and selection criteria. You are offered an interview and, though your daughter is in hospital awaiting surgery, you manage to attend – and answer the questions. In fact, you think the vibe was positive. You were right. The following week you receive a phone call. Congratulations, the guy on the phone says we’d like to offer you a position. Start dates are discussed, details checked with HR. Yes, you’ve done it. You hug the triumph to yourself in satisfaction. You talk to your current employer. Though you are supposed to give a month’s notice, they pull out all stops to ensure that you can start on the date indicated. You tell your friends, family, start to get excited. Your long-haul commute will soon be a thing of the past. You will be able to cycle to work, meet your husband in a trendy bar on Sydney Road afterwards. You will have flexibility. Ample opportunity to return to Wales. You think you are lucky. Too lucky. You think somewhere in your youth or childhood you must have done something good.

Then the second phone call comes, a week before the anticipated start date. Your job offer is being inexplicable, shatteringly withdrawn. You hang up the phone in disbelief. You try to make coffee but your hands are shaking. For some reason you can’t stand still. The reality begins to sink in. You think my God, I’m not a librarian anymore. With that the tears start. You sit with the dog in your lap and let them flow. Once the first wave of shock passes, your mind springs into action. You email your original employer. They are shocked, outraged and sympathetic on your behalf. They make phone calls. The stops so recently pulled out are jammed back into place. But of course none of your colleagues know this. When you arrive at work on Thursday morning they think you are leaving. They have made you a banner. Pob Lwc! It says in Welsh, Good Luck, Liz! You have to blight their well-wishes, tell them you might be sticking around after all. They are incredulous, enraged, and, underneath it all, a teensy bit glad. They never wanted you to leave. You think maybe they have a point. Maybe you already work on the best library service. When they ask if you want the banner taken down, you say, hell no, I’m claiming that luck after all.

PS. This is not a blame and shame exercise. Just my writerly attempt to come to terms with the situation. So, if you want to comment and know of the libraries involved, please don’t mention them by name. 🙂


Library lessons – from the other side of the desk.


Reading in two languages


  1. Oh Gawd Liz. Well hopefully all’s well that ends well. It seems anything goes today in job searching land!! It’s not the first I’ve heard of a firm withdrawing a firm verbal offer.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Glad to know I am not the only naive and trusting one.

  2. Joan

    I felt your pain, reading this, Liz. Something similar happened to a close friend . She accepted the verbal offer, and told her employer she would be leaving, only to have the new job offer rescinded. It was so painful. Sounds like the people you work for (and with) are lovely, and so appreciate you.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Joan. My library service IS the best. I know that. I just hate commuting. 🙂

  3. Sori i glywed Liz. Pan mae drws ar gau … wel amser ‘ma naeth drws yn aros agor hyd yn oed os mae o’n hen un! Edrych ymlaen i’r preswyl (ac amser ysgriffennu) a bod yng Nghymru.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Yn bendant! Dw i’n edrych ymlaen yn fawr iawn.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Ond wna i weithio fel llyfrgellydd achlusurol gyda fy hen llyfrgell nawr. Felly, mae fe wedi fy ngorfod fi i wneud penderfyniad. 🙂

  4. Jan

    I once landed a great job in the tech industry only to be laid off four days after I started. Happens, and not just to librarians.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Yes, life is not fair and in the grand scheme of things I have had so much good fortune. Yet, even though I know that, it is still a shock when the tables turn unexpectedly.

  5. Merry Mahoney

    That sucks. Just sucks! So good you are at a really understanding workplace!

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Agreed! That has been painfully brought home to me.

  6. Polyxena

    That’s terrible, Liz. Did you not get a written letter of appointment/offer? If not, how sloppy not to have got that and have you pushing to resign early and then only withdraw the offer a week before starting date! I think you are better off not working for such incompetents. Sounds like you had a narrow escape.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      I was told the written confirmation would take some time as it had to get signed off by a number of people. So I wasn’t concerned. Though I was pretty open with my team leader (who was also my referee) so everyone knew what was happening. We had the whole thing geared up and ready to go.

  7. Jocey.

    Liz that sucks. Boo.
    But I too had a similar situation, got an email to say I had got the job I went for, then the assistant principal rang to say they sent the wrong email to the wrong person and I didn’t gave the job after all!!
    So unprofessional all round , eh. Xxxx
    Hope some thing better is round the corner xxx

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Yes, I guess we’be all been burned. But fancy sending you the wrong email! Did you get something else?

  8. Sorry to hear about this awful state of affairs. Very unprofessional of them. Possibly a good sign that it may not have been a great place to work at anyway. All the best with getting over the shock and finding your balance with it all.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Earl! How is the residency going?

      • I’ve finished the first five weeks–managed to redraft 30k words, though still behind schedule. Am now on my five weeks of research and visiting friends, before the rest of my residency. I hope the writing is going well at your end. Hwyl.

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