It’s been five months since I was made redundant and I’m already tired of banging my head against the reality of the lack of jobs. Of course it’s not that simple – there are jobs, but there are also a lot of people who want them. Latest stats suggest 9 job seekers for every vacancy. Not good odds, and I’m not very lucky.
Last time I was unemployed was back in the 90s. I had two bouts (makes it sound like an illness). The first was after leaving college early in the decade and things were bleak. It was before the internet really took off, so it was all letter writing and queuing up in the library to photocopy my CV, endless envelopes and stamp licking. And no jobs. I ended up on a training course to nowhere, then went back to college.
The second bout was in the late 90s after leaving college the second time. Again I struggled and ended up on a training course doing IT and business admin. That turned the tide and I started getting crappy little part time jobs, building up some experience.
I didn’t get a full time job until 2000, twelve years after leaving school with my A Levels. In 2001 I managed to get a job doing what I was trained for: sound engineering. Unfortunately, this was for the local council, and earlier this year my job was axed. So I’m back where I started.
Now I’m middle aged and have a lot more experience so I thought it would be fairly straight-forward to walk into another job. I was wrong. I have filled in countless application forms and sent CVs to the most unlikely places. Most of them don’t even bother to reply.
My problem is I’m abnormal. I trained as a musician and sound engineer and only ended up working office jobs because I needed to pay the bills. Now I’m applying for admin type work again but I’ve just spent the last 10 years recording a talking newspaper. I’m up against a whole bunch of job applicants whose most recent experience is more relevant to the job they’re applying for. The prospective employer no doubt takes one look at my CV or application form and thinks, “Why is she applying for this? I’m not employing a sound engineer, I want someone normal.”
The worst part of all this is the fortnightly trips to the Job Centre to be ritually humiliated. I dutifully jump through all the hoops and tick the boxes. I’m doing everything I can to look for work, but they still look at you like you’re not trying hard enough. Every month I’ve been booked in for an ‘Advisory Interview’ where no real advice is offered. I swear my ‘advisor’ is more depressed than me. I know they’re doing their best and in reality there’s very little they can do.
My luck will change eventually. It always does, sooner or later. Something will come up requiring a skillset closer to the eclectic mess of talents I possess. In the meantime, I’m writing and writing and writing… So maybe there’s a silver lining after all.