For 90% of DTSFT’s admittedly short life, I have been one of those poor jobless souls who wander through the streets, clad in scruffy, torn clothing with a desperate look in their eyes. Okay, so I rarely wander through the streets, I actually tend to sit in my bedroom staring at the walls because I’m too lazy to climb them.
There’s a handful of mentalities that develop from unemployment – some people become arrogant, considering themselves too good for certain jobs because they’re a graduate or think they’re over-qualified. Others develop a negative self-image, thinking that they’ve been out of work for so long because they’re not good enough, and that they might never catch a break because of this reason. Then you have the people who get stuck in a rut without realising it, subconsciously building daily routines out of mundane activities – often based around the television schedule – as a way of distracting themselves from an actually productive routine. Or you could combine all three to be a complex bundle of joy. So it would be good to keep this in mind when you talk to somebody who is trying to find a job, because contrary to popular belief, it’s not the only thing they want to talk about.
Now I want to be clear – I know that there are plenty of people who don’t work because they are looking after young children or elderly relatives, and that there are loads of other reasons why someone might be out of work. I don’t judge people who are not working, because I don’t know your situation and I’m not in a position to talk, really. This is more about the people around people who are out of work but looking for employment. If for whatever reason you *aren’t* looking for work, you might not be familiar with these things but I’m sure you’ll be able to sympathise with my anger and frustration.
6. Have you tried the Job Centre/an agency?
Although, no, I actually haven’t tried the Job Centre but that’s on purpose, because I’ve seen so many of my friends go through the weekly appointments and condescending bullshit for their trouble. And in the past year and a half since leaving my job as a bookseller, I have been registered with various recruitment agencies who seem to ignore my assertion that I don’t want to work in anything medical or science-related, and instead ring me every few days with jobs going at chemical shipping companies. But my problem isn’t with the Job Centre or necessarily the agencies themselves, because even though they’re not working for me, they help people and it’s just my own choice to not go down that route, even though I might meet some desperate, slinky-hipped gents if I ventured to the Job Centre…
No, it’s the people who ask me if I’ve ever considered using the Job Centre or a recruitment agency – do I look simple? Of course I’ve considered them. And do you think that the only way to get a job is through the imaginatively named Job Centre? No, it isn’t. Just because I’ve been out of work for a while, it doesn’t mean that my brain has turned to porridge and I can’t figure out the most obvious place to turn in search of employment.
5. Is it that you don’t want to work?
Personally, I find this one probably the most insulting one on this list, and it is something that people have actually said to me. I got my first job when I was about 14; granted, it was just a paper-round, but I was still going out and doing something to earn my own money. Since then, I’ve always had jobs, whether it was Christmas temping in shops or weekend work during my A-levels, or the more substantial jobs in the last 6 years like my NHS and book-selling jobs. I had to keep reminding myself of this fact in the last 12 months, just to assure myself that while I might be out of work at the moment, I haven’t been dossing about for the last few years, and the fact that I’ve had some of my own money saved up from my earnings to get by on is proof of that, in my own opinion. So it always annoys me when I get asked if I even actually WANT to work. Why wouldn’t I want to work?
Just look at the Daily Mail website for a few minutes and I’m sure you’ll find an article about a lazy pikey who gets hundreds of thousands of pounds every year in benefits, and doesn’t see the point in working because they earn more by sitting on their arse. Yeah, those kind of scumbags definitely exist, but it’s kind of insulting to assume that I’m like those people just because I haven’t got a job at the moment. I believe that most people are happiest when they are productive, and even if it takes a bit of time to find what it is you’re good at or even just what you like doing (because as silly as it sounds, it’s not always obvious what your passion is), anyone can thrive on a project or in a job where they can see results from their work and have some sense of achievement.
In short, of course I fucking want to work.
4. Something will come along
When someone says this, I feel like it implies that I’m just waiting for a job to fall into my lap like the crumbs of so many poorly aimed Doritos. There are some people who do that, it’s true; you sign up for LinkedIn, put down that you’ve got a degree and are therefore an expert in your field. Then you sit back and wait for the job offers to come rolling in, and if they DON’T, then it’s obvious that the managers are giving the jobs to their own children. It SO has nothing to do with you being lazy.
But back to the people who are saying stupid things like this. There are a number of reasons why somebody would say something like this. It could be smalltalk purely to get off the subject of job-hunting which they no doubt brought up because you’re unemployed and then instantly lost interest in because it wasn’t centred around them. Or it could be well-intended smalltalk to get off the subject of job-hunting because they really do think something will come along, regardless of whether it is out of sheer luck or hard work. Or it could be a passive aggressive method to get off the subject of job-hunting because they believe that because you’re not going door-to-door around central London handing out CVs in the hope that some kind, wealthy gentleman will take pity on you and give you a job.
See, that’s part of the problem with job-hunting these days. When I was about 15, I went round the Whitgift Centre, going into shops with my CV and enquiring about vacancies. This worked with a few times for my friends and me, but fast forward to a few years later where my manager at tells us to turn away any and all CVs, with the message that ‘all vacancies are handled online’. It broke my heart to turn away the book-loving teenagers who came by, enthusiastically and pro-actively looking for a job at the bookshop, but these days that’s how it is – you’re more likely to have luck finding a job by spending a bit of time online and doing some thorough job searches. I mean, it’s not the ONLY way, but most of the large chain shops and businesses that you go into will do their recruitment via their website, and seeing as my computer is in my room, that means I do my job searches in there. So excuse me if I don’t check-in with y’all every single I time I apply for a job. I’ll be sure to take out an advert in all the big newspapers when a job finally falls into my lap.
3. Why don’t you go travelling?
Because if you can’t get your shit together in this country, why not spend sometime abroad, putting off your inevitable responsibilities as a grown-up to ‘find yourself’? I hate this suggestion. For one thing, I know it’s a selfish mentality, but I have no urge to go abroad to go volunteering, and I’m not interested in visiting a less-developed country to marvel at how they manage to get from day to day without wifi. Don’t get me wrong, I have friends who have travelled and done awesome things, but let’s be honest about it, going travelling is just an expensive and self-indulgent way to put off the task of sorting out your future. And I’d have to rinse my savings to go travelling, because I don’t have a trust fund and my mummy and daddy can’t afford to fund my expensive jaunt around the world.
I mean, sure I’d love to go abroad, but I know damn well that when I get home, my problems will still be there. Which is what generally leads to the next one on this list….
2. You could do a Masters’!
AKA “Why not jump right back into the machine?” I loved being at university, I loved studying and I still love learning. But I can’t do it anymore. I can’t. If you go back to study for a Master’s straight after your bachelors degree then you’re a masochist, there ain’t no two ways about it.
But you know, it’s up to you whether you do post-graduate study. You might need it for your particular career choice, and that’s great. Or you might just want to learn a bit more about your subject, and that’s great too. However, if you know someone who is out of work, don’t just randomly throw out the ‘go back to studying’ line. Studying isn’t for everybody, especially not studying for a postgraduate degree. If I went back to get a Master’s degree, it would most likely be something specific in music, which really wouldn’t do me any good other than improving whatever little musical skill or knowledge I have. It’s not going to help me to get a job, and it’s fucking expensive, too.
Oh but then of course, there’s the most popular suggestion of them all….
1. Why not become a teacher?
I tell you what, why don’t YOU fucking become a teacher? I get it, I get it, there will (hopefully) always be schools, and if you’re passionate enough about a subject then you’ll probably be able to impart wisdom with similar passion. But I believe that many people go in to teaching without even thinking about what it entails, it’s just an easy route from university into a career. I know a couple of people who have become teachers, and they’re all really passionate about it, but I also know that for me to go into teaching would just be pointless, and it’s because I don’t want the responsibility of SHAPING BRITAIN’S YOUNG MINDS. I don’t care enough. And if you know me (and reading any of my posts, you should have a good idea of who I am) then you’ll know I don’t care about anything at all, least of all other people.
So everybody please, just shut up and let me be poor and unemployed by myself.