Last week I asked you to send me your pitches for How to Be Jobless, and the response so far has been brilliant. First up commenting from the Pyjarmy barracks is Sean Cleaver, who thinks young people are getting entirely too much sympathy in this whole job crisis. Spare a thought for the slightly older jobless who’ve switched careers – in the exact same position, career-wise, as graduates and young people, but with a splash of ageism on top…
Young people this, young people that, work experience this, interns that, training schemes, blah blah blah. ENOUGH ALREADY!
This may sound like I’m being ageist, and I guess I am in the way that this media industry is, but I’m sick to bloody death of this “young people” phrase.
I am one of the forgotten number. Yes, I am the late bloomer, irrelevant to the government because I’m over 24 and under 65. I haven’t established a forlong career in an utterly abysmal corporate chain that sees me as a convenient compromise until retirement. I haven’t been addicted to substances, wasted my way around the block or fathered half of my area’s primary school. I am 30(ish), I’m a graduate (for around eight months) and my career reboot is going nowhere.
Background: seven years, customer service/sales, few companies, survived recession (indirectly affiliated no doubt), despised life, found my passion, quit, educated and now…temping in customer services. Four years so far wasted because I can’t get into the industry.
That is, highly competitive media industry. I’m a very knowledgable and competent radio host but far too old to get on to any training scheme, let alone compete with the 21 year old hipsters (no offence) filing in to stations across the country. My dream is writing for television and to work – yes actually work – my way up the TV production ladder. Writing is something I can do if I get an agent. To get one I must know people. To know people I must work with them. To work I must get jobs. To get jobs I must have experience. To get experience I must work for free in either highly competitive work experience placements or internships – all of which I’m too old or overqualified to be considered for. This is an assumption of course, but when you’ve had 10 years working experience, full IT skills and qualifications/life experience and are told that there are others “better suited” for roles, it does make you wonder.
Am I bitter? Yes! As the fearless #Pyjarmy creator rightly dubbed me, I am a boomeranger. My parents weren’t boomers but I’m straight back, unable to move on with life. Since graduating I’ve applied for over 75 jobs. I’ve since lost count but I know it’s at least that. I’ve had responses to 50 per cent of those. Five per cent of those offered any kind of feedback, let alone meaningful. The rest, all quiet. Of those applications, I’ve had four interviews:
1) a sports TV station researcher. Entry level work (I’d spent a year volunteering as a pundit on internet sports broadcasts and hosted a sports radio show) – rejected.
2) a B2B sales role for making event brochures. (Honestly, I felt desperate here and applied for anything. Would have hated it, best I didn’t get it. A bit like that person you date for a week and then feel relieved when it’s done.) – rejected.
3) a part time front of house theatre job. (I shaved my tidy stubble clean for this interview and when the time was worst, started bleeding consistently from my face) – rejected.
4) a sports writer for a website. (This has been partially successful as some freelance work will come my way, but no full time) – partially rejected.
The thing here entry-level jobs, as we call them. Not specifically designed for anyone or any age, but purely the realm of people who aren’t over 23 and seemingly inexperienced in employment to be easily shafted and oblivious to it. Maybe because I’m 30 people are wary that I want too much money, will have too much baggage, can’t learn new things, am over the hill, too much effort to employ.
Maybe my CV and cover letters scare employers away or don’t communicate effectively enough that I CHANGED MY ENTIRE BLOODY LIFE TO FOLLOW A DREAM AND I’M NOT BLOODY QUITTING BECAUSE YOU SAY NO OR DON’T REPLY! I’m sure I’m not alone but we’re probably more of a minority in the #Pyjarmy at our vintage. However, we too need to get experience in an industry, any industry. I can work for peanuts as long as I’m compensated in a role I enjoy and is good for my career. I’ve worked all my life, what makes anyone think that I’m not worth anying now? Thanks to Mr Cameron, I’ll be working until I’m bloody 75! If I carry on without a lucky break that’s another… 45 years? 75 applications a year meaning I’d have applied for 3,375 jobs. And I will, you bet I will.
I think what I’m trying to say here among my moany diatribe and sadness at what is beginning to feel like my own failure is this:
Spare a thought, you “young people”, politicians, employers and conscientious observers, to the slightly older unemployed. The late 20/early 30 something people who have tried to work up, get promoted, scale the ladder, et al. Those who change careers to follow dreams and desires. Those whose only generational contribution to the world at large seems to be the consumption of internet porn, the indie music scene and Russell Brand. My forgotten generation isn’t getting the schemes and help you are, isn’t getting the chance to start anew thanks to age restrictions and limited opportunities.
We may appear to be written off, but we’re fighting and we will, WE WILL, exploit every poorly worded rejection email to find out why employers don’t like us.
Follow Sean on Twitter @cleaverslips