Last week, many of us tuned in to watch Channel 4’s Benefits Britain: The Live Debate, in which an eclectic mix of journalists, MP’s, local businessmen and the residents of James Turner Street got together to voice their opinions on our county’s welfare state.
During the hour-long broadcast, there were some heated moments, a host of unusual remarks, some fruity language and few passionate outbursts from founder of The Big Issue, John Bird. I personally think that Richard Bacon did a good job of keeping the debate rolling; however, this will be my only opinion on the show.
I’m not here to give my two pence worth about Britain’s benefit system, but instead, offer a rough account of a typical day’s job seeking for me as an unemployed young lad back in early millennium…
- I wake up to the crass sound of my alarm droning into my brain at 8am, then suddenly realise I don’t have anything in particular to get up for and put my good friend Mr. Snooze into action.
- After snoozing for just over an hour, I decide it really is time to get up - I slowly peel my eyes open, instinctively turn on the TV (as the remote control is on my mattress) and lay there contemplating my day with the low hum of daytime TV in the background.
- Just before 10am, I swing my legs around and finally propel myself out of bed, do a few stretches, relieve by bladder, wash my hands and drag my heels down to the kitchen.
- Opening the cupboards, I realise there isn’t much to eat so I rustle up some toast, black coffee and a suspicious looking banana, then sit in the lounge to eat.
- After breakfast, I ‘soak’ the dishes, get in the shower, put on my lounging clothes and fire up the old laptop to see what’s in store for me…
- I rifle through the junk mail and Viagra ads in my email inbox and find, much like yesterday, that not one person has replied to me from the 36 job applications I’ve put in over the past couple of weeks. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, again!
- Oh wait, there’s actually one reply from a local retailer in my Junk Mail box - is this the break I’ve been waiting for? Of course it isn’t, they say I haven’t got enough experience, but how do I gain experience if I can’t get a job? Still, at least they took the time to respond. I’m pathetically grateful!
- It’s lunchtime already but I didn’t actually eat that long ago. I hastily stuff my face with a fun sized Twix bar from the cupboard, swig some water and begin to trawl the internet.
- I look for various entry level jobs and internships within a 20 mile radius and send off my CV to 3 or 4 more advertised positions without even proofing my CV. I’ve done it several times already!
- Enough applications have been sent so I treat myself to 10 minutes on Myspace, not much has changed since yesterday evening but somehow, those 10 minutes has turned into an hour!
- I shut the laptop down, put on my shoes and coat and take a walk into town, a bit of fresh air and civilisation will do me good. The sky is fairly turquoise and the wind has dropped which cheers me up a bit.
- I get to the town centre and as I’m wandering through, count how many of the shops I’ve put in a job application for in recent months. Turns out to be around 1 in 3, a pretty high statistic when you think about it.
- I’ve trawled the high street and the shopping centres and haven’t found any new job vacancy signs so I head on over to my local Jobcentre to have a browse on the employment terminals even though it’s not my signing on day.
- The offices are cramped and all the terminals are in use. I kick my heels around waiting for a free one for just over half an hour, but in the end, I give up. I’ll come back again tomorrow, might have to check the diary though!
- On my way home, I get a text from my mate saying they’re all going for a couple of after work pints in the local this evening and ‘do I want to come down’. I literally have no money and don’t want to be known as ‘that guy’ so I decline. At least Mum will be home when I get in. I can chat about my day with her…
In today’s economic climate, unemployment is rife and it isn’t easy for young people who are trying to find their way in the world.
If you’ve recently finished school or university and the above sounds familiar don’t worry, you will find a job - I did in the end (and many others I know who were in the same position have too) - just keep your eye on the ball and persevere. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when all your efforts seem to go to waste, but there are plenty of great resources to help you get ahead.
Connexionslive is a great site for info, ideas, training vacancies and career advice and let’s not forget Career Addict! There are many great articles right here to offer help, tips to sharpening up your CV, how to guides and insightful information about the workplace, so take some time to have a browse - you are sure to find something useful.
It’s not a race so review your options, take your time, ask as many questions as you need to the right people and eventually - you’ll get where you need to be.