BDjobseeker - Day Five: Good advice
One Bradford jobseeker documents the journey from redundancy to (hopefully) employment
With the onset of the weekend, I woke up having resigned myself to not striking gold in my first full week of jobhunting. This may be a much longer struggle than I had at first hoped and I have yet to come across anything in my experiences this week to indicate otherwise. Overnight I had received a message from a friend who runs a business hub in the city centre and had become aware of this blog through social media. Putting two and two together, he had realised it was me and invited me for a coffee and to chat about how he could be of any help.
My jobhunting schedule for today included talking to a couple of people I know who are considering opening a cafe/record shop in the city centre. It is much harder when unemployed to be industrious and think about setting up a new business purely due to the financial (and DWP imposed) constraints when starting up something new. There are incentives out there to get new employment started but many of these fall flat in the long term due to their inherent lack of liquidity. A statistic released recently was used by the government to crow about how they had got thousands off benefits and into self-employment. A more interesting statistic for me would be how many of these last the first 12 months given the scarcity of ongoing support available.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances this meeting today was cancelled, but there were some fringe benefits to this.
Midday meeting with some people looking to set up a new cafe business has been cancelled, though it gives me bonus ranting time at least— Bradford Jobseeker (@BDjobseeker) February 8, 2013
One of the most heartening things about maintaining this Twitter account and blog is the social circle it has created. People who may never have previously been in contact with one another are now connecting and sharing their all too familiar experiences. People are sending jobs to me recommending jobs to apply for and the feeling of mutual support I am getting from others, and hopefully reciprocating, has really helped me through this first week. Many of the stories I hear are depressingly familiar now.
@bdjobseeker I also have a Degree. Been unemployed 2 yrs now. It's like a merry-go-round. Once they have you in the system your a statistic.— Mutton Jeff (@MuttonJeff2) February 8, 2013
Many people who are in employment and have an overview of how recruitment works for their companies have also been in touch today which has been incredibly helpful. There seemed to be a failrly split mix of companies who either do or don’t use agencies, with IT industries coming across as a particularly unique user of agency services, albeit specialist ones.
@bdjobseeker We didn’t employ anyone who said they had an interest in scifi and Star Trek cos they wouldn’t have fit in.— Michael (@Its_MikeM) February 8, 2013
As the conversation went on, more and more good advice came my way and I will be putting what I have learnt to the test next week. Some of the fears I had over how an employer might view my CV turned out to be unfounded, whilst others showed that I should pay more attention to particular areas.
@bdjobseeker TBH it’s the experience that counts. When I had to filter CVs I didn’t look at qualifications. Just experience and hobbies.— Michael (@Its_MikeM) February 8, 2013
I also had some time to think this morning about the consequences of being sanctioned for not applying for 5 jobs per week, no matter if I was suitable for the role or if I ever had any chance whatsoever of getting it. This approach causes a headache for companies who have to work harder to weed out unsuitable applicants and staff, and for those applying who may discover that none of their applications receive the attention they often deserve.
It also occurred to me that the level of JSA is set at what the government considers the absolute minimum an adult person needs to live on each week. By cutting or removing this bare minimum income it causes all manner of health and other associated problems such as malnutrition, whilst condemning the sanctioned to increased stress and insecurity beyond what they already have to go through. Surely in it’s bleakest sense, though appealing to those who believe wholeheartedly the tabloid view of unemployment, this system is simply state sponsored GBH?
Convinced that some people think that working in the media/music industry is a "fun job" that people don't require being paid for.— Bradford Jobseeker (@BDjobseeker) February 8, 2013
I also had some time to look at jobs specific to my field, and discovered quickly that most of these positions are now unpaid. The job market in these areas is now so saturated with people who are led to believe that doing unpaid work will lead to paid that there is no shortage of takers for these free positions. In the case of most “internships” and the like, the worker is supported by their family leaving a huge divide in the kinds of backgrounds from which people can take these “jobs”. Those who need paid work to support themselves are less and less able to find it.
@bdjobseeker Indeed. Can't pay bills, food, rent, mortgage with fresh air... Someone makes money somewhere at these places.— Keith Wildman (@KeithWildman) February 8, 2013
After some time following the debate at Bradford College that was unfolding and spilling onto twitter which touched upon the link between education and employment, I set off to meet the friend who had contacted me overnight. The business he is part of, the Gumption Centre, has recently been tasked with delivering the City Centre Growth Zone initiative to increase the resilience, stability and staffing ability of businesses in the City Centre. Although much of the £35million this pot contains has already been allocated to Westfield to increase the chances of building commencing this year, a sizeable pot remains to provide rate relief to those companies who take on new staff and create jobs. I had been at the launch of this initiative last year which is where I first met this friend, and so above all else I was keen to see how it was being implemented.
After a long chat where we managed to clarify the kind of work I should focus on, and trying to identify potential employers, I was feeling more positive than I had done all week about my prospects. After a week trawling around the official channels of employment and getting nothing but rejection and a deeper sense of panic about my future than I ever thought possible, all it took was one hour with a kind human who genuinely cared about the city we live in to return my confidfence. Although nothing can of course be promised, he offered to do his best to help me when talking to potential employers throughout the course of his work and I am both glad and incredibly lucky to have contact with such a person.
This is exactly the kind of human touch I've been looking for so very grateful for his offer.— Bradford Jobseeker (@BDjobseeker) February 8, 2013
He has achieved more in a one hour meeting than the combined powers of the Jobcentre and employment agencies have so far this week— Bradford Jobseeker (@BDjobseeker) February 8, 2013
After parting ways, I made my way to the BCB studios at the top of town as they had offered to help highlight my plight over the airwaves on the Drive programme. I spent a good 5 minutes on air chatting about how I hope to dispel some of the myths around unemployment by keeping this online diary. The presenters were very enthusiastic about what I am trying to do and off-air were really kind too, always a good sign. In order to speed me on my journey I exited the building to “I will survive” by Gloria Gaynor, chosen by the presenters as being an appropriate track for me. Not sure exactly what I think about that.
Checking my messages at the end of the day, I was pleased to see some good news from followers who had been sharing my journey this week and applying like crazy for those all-elusive jobs. As mentioned above, this has become a very social search for work and at the end of every twitter account (well, most of them) is a real, struggling human trying to make a life for themselves. I’m keeping every appendage crossed for all the people who have had glimmers of hope this week and hope to report good news about them here very soon.
Currently *shocked face*... I've had a personal email not just the usual run of the mill acknowledgment from 1 of my applications this week!— Sharon Eyre (@treblevodka) February 8, 2013
@bdjobseeker It worked, jesus! They just rang offering an interview on Mon! Had to change my sign on, lets hope JCP remember >.>— Catie Daly (@SuperDucklingen) February 8, 2013
And so to the weekend. Like the rest of the working world catching their breath, I am going to have two days off from blogging to be fully rested and ready for the next week of jobseeking ahead. I’ll still be searching and applying for jobs so if anything that a reader of this blog feels would be helpful to me, please send them my way via the Twitter account. Tune in next week for all the fun of my first proper meeting with my allocated JSA advisor and hopefully some good news.
Scoreboard for day Five:
Followers receiving good news about possible jobs: 2
Hours spent receiving great advice: 1
Minutes spent clogging up the airwaves with my plight: 5
Job offers received so far this week: 0