Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
version 8, draft 8

Writing on the Dole

Jobs may very well be few and far between, even less so for stalwart creative types, but it needn’t be all doom and gloom. Being unemployed is as undesirable as it sounds. There’s quite demeaning things which can happen to you while waiting for your turn to be served in the dole queue. That said, it can often be the only option. Here’s a few simple tips to help build up your portfolio all the while keeping the job centre happy.

You can earn around £77 per week, provided you’re not the main breadwinner, which coming out of uni you’re unlikely to have your own place. While this amount may only cover your expenses, it’s not to be sniffed at. If you’re careful and clever you can double that amount or more by writing.

Balancing Act

What can be tricky is keeping the job centre happy whilst working on that burgeoning writing career. This is an intricate, high stakes game. While it’s all well and good to flex those writing muscles whilst keeping your job seeker’s money in your pocket, you’ll have to fill out a volunteer work form each week, which gets tremendously tiring. If you’ve too much on your plate, the job centre gremlins will claim you’re not spending enough time looking for a ‘proper’ job. Let’s not mess around here, your money’s on the line.

It’s perfectly acceptable to hold down a few writing opportunities, given you aren’t spending more than a few hours a day. It’ll only cause friction and trying to score paid writing work whilst keeping your JSA coming in is all about balance. The adage ‘less is more’, cliché though it is, really is a golden rule. While you could be writing for a variety of small blogs and/or magazines (online or otherwise) it could very well be counterproductive. It’s better to be writing consistently for one or two publications with a wider readership than say ten with smaller readerships.

Time Management

You need to consolidate and correctly manage your time. While the job centre will provide you with a booklet to list the who, what, where and whys of your job search, it’s a good idea to keep your own notebook or spreadsheet handy to keep track of your submissions and publications.  

Multiple CVs

Multiple CVs are going to help you immensely here. It’s important to have a tight, well written CV to help you find an income, but it’s equally important to have a separate one for writing. There’s thousands of websites out there that can teach you how to write a writer’s CV which showcases your skills, publication history, education and more, so take advantage and get one put together if you haven’t already. If you don’t use Linkedin, go and start a profile now. Not only is it a great way to build up an online presence and discover job opportunities, it’s also a place to chat with like-minded individuals. There’s plenty of discussions between freelancers who, just like you, are looking for paid work. Most people are willing to share their experiences, sometimes you just have to ask.

Being on the dole is pretty de-humanising, and doesn’t do your confidence any favours. If, as a writer, you find yourself needing to sign on, don’t fret. Make sure you’re balancing your time between your creative work and careers search. Many of the jobs you can be searching for are going to be creative based anyway. Just remember one thing, no experience is wasted as a writer. If, to make ends meet, you have to take a job as a shelf-stacker, arcade assistant or cleaner, just think of the stories to be sold.

Image sourced: JobCentre

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