Another day, another memorable visit to the Jobcentre, or "The Jobby" as I've come to affectionately call it.
Had a 9am appointment, so no lie-in for me today (surely the one perk of being jobless?). The purpose of today's visit: to complete my "Rapid Reclaim". I have to say I feel slightly mislead by the use of the word rapid, having made countless phone calls and trips down there since Monday, trying to get it sorted out.
The lady I saw today treated me with the contempt that any unemployed person clearly deserves, rushed through a whole load of forms with little time to acknowledge my totally perplexed expressions and sent me on my way within the space of about 5 minutes. Whilst she was ticking a load of boxes (with no evidence from me) that I'd applied for the mandatory 2 jobs this week, I expressed my frustration that I've actually applied for 6 jobs this week with no responses from any of them, she merely shook her head and mumbled with what appeared to resemble empathy, "yes, it is a bit like that at the moment".
I paused, in the hope that she might profer some advice as to how I could improve my chances of securing a job, but no, it was a stand alone statement before she raised her eyes to glance behind me, signalling that this was the end of the meeting.
On my way out, I bumped into one of my former line managers. I think it's the third time we've met in the Jobby, and we spent about 10 minutes sharing our latest job hunting experiences. It's strangely reassuring to meet up with former colleagues and discover they're facing the same brick wall, but obviously it's heartbreaking at the same time. As a workforce I feel we were all brilliant managers, with a broad range of skills and experience that would surely be invaluable to any organisation (or at the very least, their switchboard in my case)?? But DT only confirmed that we are all coming up against the same thing. He told me his daughter had just been to an interview for an art teacher position in London, and she'd been told there were 54 other applicants - apparently this is almost unheard of for this field.
Another friend told me last night that a recent vacancy for a basic-level admin assistant at our local university attracted 170 applicants, and I heard on the news this week that in some parts of the country there are almost 1,000 applicants for every vacancy advertised in the Jobcentre.
This is the situation we are facing. There are so many applicants per job that recruiters can simply sift out your application based on the font you've used, a comma in the wrong place (that probably explains my lack of success) or an extra space where there shouldn't be one. I know from experience of working in recruitment that this does not necessarily mean the best people for the job are filtered. In fact this is confirmed when 2 weeks later, you see a position you've been automatically rejected for in spite of meeting all the requirements, being readvertised.
Last night I called a small office looking for a secretary, and accidentally choked on my own saliva just as the manager answered the phone. Thankfully he saw the funny side and after a mutual chuckle at my expense, he sounded very interested to hear from me (I deduced this fact from his closing statement, "I look forward to seeing your CV tomorrow"). This role was for 27 hours per week, and would earn me less than half my previous salary, but I simply cannot afford to keep a roof over my head on Job Seeker's Allowance, so I can't rule anything out. Besides, the man sounded really nice and is the first person who has even acknowledged me, so I sent through my application straight away. The first of today's email checks confirms that I have neither had a response from him, nor any of the other applications I've sent this week. STILL.
Those reading this still in a job might think I'm being impatient, but in the C.E.C ("Current Economic Climate"), things move at the speed of light and if someone is interested you can normally expect to hear back from them almost immediately.
Which begs the question, What the hell are we all going to do?!
With unemployment at its highest for 12 years, redundancy money rapidly disappearing and no help from the jobcentre, the situation looks far more bleak than I first thought.
I'll be ok, of course, I've got this blog...