- Written by Garry
- Created: 27 November 2014
I haven’t posted much here for a while other than comedy sets and flagrant self-promotional advertisements. Well, come to that, I suppose you could make the case that his whole website is just one big attention-seeking advertorial. Fine. Whatever.
The point is I haven’t posted much recently because the most prevailing issue facing me has been my continued unemployment and the crises of confidence that go along with that. And I've whinged about that plenty in the past. I wanted to avoid this website just being an outlet for my whinging about jobs I didn't get. It should be so much more than that. It should also be an outlet for my whinging about politics, people, my car, culture and a general lack of spaghetti. But all those issues have been taking a back seat lately. It’s amazing how those things cease to be so important when something that actually matters starts to go wrong.
Also, that fact is I have plenty of spaghetti. Just ignore that one.
Furthermore, as of today I have left the unemployment behind, at least for now. I've picked up 25 hours a week running communications, admin and policy development for a local community group. And since I've got that little detail taken care of, now seems the perfect time to ungag myself and give you my impressions on the job hunting process.
From the outset, I’ll acknowledge that my situation is quite specific. I'm living in Darwin by choice, armed only with an Arts degree, which is entirely my own fault. The Northern Territory has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, for those with more useful qualifications.
However, this condition also leans people towards assumptions and easy answer clichés are quite simply not true. Here are a few of my favourites:
There’s plenty of work out there. Anyone who can’t find work isn't trying hard enough.
Well, while there is plenty of work out there, most of it requires qualifications that I do not have. An engineering degree, a nursing registration or a forklift license. I suppose I could go and get these, but since I already have two and a half degrees and can’t get study allowances, what do I eat while I study full time? And how do I complete against the people with these qualifications plus four years’ experience who are going for the same jobs?
Didn't you study journalism? Why don’t you get work at the newspaper?
Last time I went job hunting, or maybe the time before that, I applied for every single NewsCorp job that came up. I was certain my degree in journalism, my local knowledge and personal relationship with most of the newsroom staff would be enough to land me an interview at the very least.
This time around, I threw an application their way, and even made an appointment to meet the Chief of Staff face to face.
Good old COS started out with an apology, because the Career One ad had been running longer than it was supposed to be and there was no current vacancy. He also let me know that NewsCorp’s HR is now all run centrally from Sydney, so the NT News Office doesn’t actually have any control over who works in the NT News newsroom. He thanked me for my time and showed me the door. At four and a half minutes, it was the shortest and most humiliating job interview of my short and brilliant media career.
A few days later I met the new recruit who had been given the position I was after. She was a cadet from Melbourne with half a communications degree and no idea where Brownsmart was. I helped her with her spelling.
So no. I can’t just get a job with the newspaper.
What about bar work?
What about it? I don’t have an RSA certificate, and even if I did I'm not a cute backpacker. I can fake an Irish accent, but I’d definitely charge extra for that. It’s not just a matter of showing up for that sort of work. You have to know someone, be really pretty or know someone really pretty.
Shut up. Yes you do.
Have you tried a job agency?
No. Of course not. In eighteen months of unemployment, that simple idea had never occurred to me, as despite my advanced education I am a complete moron, obviously.
I wrote to, called and visited all of them. In eighteen months I was sent a reference for exactly one job. I didn't get it. Any notion these people advertise about connecting people with jobs is complete balderdash. They are useless frauds.
Maybe you need to lower your pride a bit, try for something a bit simpler. Have you tried any of the local shops?
For one thing, lower this: (insert your preferred confrontational hand gesture here). For another thing, yes, I have. I responded to every “help wanted” ad in Casuarina. There’s nothing quite like being told you’re not quite up to the task of manning the desk at Vodafone. Seriously now. Have you ever been in there? I don’t even think those kids can spell customer service, but apparently they've got more of whatever the company is looking for than I do.
Getting rejected by the video shop was a particular highlight.
Something will come up, you know.
Oh freak me sideways. Half a dozen things come up every week. I apply for all of them and maybe land one interview a fortnight. The market for professional communicators up here is completely flooded, due largely to a certain State government’s hatchet job on their own corporate communications department last year. I don’t know how many times I was told “We thought your application was strong and your interview was great, but we went with someone else who has been doing this exact job for the last seventeen years somewhere else.”
But I'm totally not bitter. I've got myself 25 hours a week running admin and comms for a company no-one has ever heard of. Maybe I can turn that around. And certainly I’ll be able to get on with complaining about something else for a change.
Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs