* Slight disclaimer to the following post: I have a job.
I wrote this a few weeks ago in a fit of rage, but felt it might be a bit whiny and self-important so didn’t post it. Then I got a job. However, that was luck at work after months of playing the game, and I still stand by what I’m saying here. Strangely, it wasn’t until I actually had a job that I felt OK to post this. Anyway:
“We have reviewed your details with interest but on this occasion we will not be asking you to attend an interview with us as other candidates’ experience more closely matches our client’s requirements.”
For about four months now, I have been looking for work in London. During that time, I have received hundreds of emails like this. I have concluded that the job market here is absolutely non-existent to anyone not already in it.
I’m not unemployable by any stretch. I have two full degrees from a reputable University, one in Law and one specializing in Psychology. I have an excellent command of the English language, and in fact the Japanese one as well. I am bilingual, and studying Spanish under my own steam, soon to become trilingual. I have experienced a wide variety of living and working conditions, having worked in various countries, including volunteer stints around the world. I have been in some kind of work constantly from the age of about 12 through to the start of this year, and since then in patches. I have performed excellently in all my roles, my prior bosses and coworkers have nothing but glowing references for me and wish I was still there. My most recent solid block of engagement was postgraduate legal study at a respected University in Tokyo, which I undertook entirely in Japanese. I am smart and quick in conversation, come up with excellent ideas and am also able to adapt to others’ with no trouble at all. I work extremely well both alone and as part of a team. I stick to deadlines. I have a superb phone manner, and everyone who I meet in a personal capacity or in interviews with recruitment agents enjoys my friendly, comfortable presence. I can use, and have used, just about any commonly-used computer program you could throw at me well, and pick up new ones just like that. I have a typing speed of about 65 words per minute, and rarely make mistakes. On the odd occasion that I do, I pick them up immediately with my excellent eye for detail and satisfaction in a job well done. I have an artistic side to complement my analytic side, play musical instruments, have performed in bands, have created and presented short films in various venues and am an avid amateur photographer. And just in case someone wants to play the race card, I’m a white British citizen in my 20s from a middle-class background.
I’m your ideal employee. And I can’t find a single job in London. I’ve applied for everything. Sales consultant, sales assistant, marketing, translation, office work, receptionist, data entry, admin, secretary, legal secretary, paralegal, scientific assistant, scientific administrator, PA, junior assistant, document production, document review, reporter, teacher’s assistant, bar work, waiting. Full-time, part-time, temporary, contract. Nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
Nobody cares about anything I’ve done, or who I am. The one and only single thing anybody cares about is, have I done this job before? And we’re not talking transferrable skills. The only people even being considered are those who have done the exact same job with the exact same specs in a company exactly the same size wearing a name tag of exactly the same colour, for at least the last few years. You don’t match up and you don’t even get a look in. With so many unemployed desperately clambering for work (unemployment in “young” people is at a record 10%), I suppose companies can be as picky as they like. The only real paid work I have had in the last few years is teaching, but my qualifications don’t match up with what is needed in England, so I’m out.
And that’s it. I’m completely out. I’ve been applying for about 5-10 jobs a day, every day, including Saturdays and Sundays, for about four months. And not got a single job. Nobody cares about who you are anymore. People are judged solely on whether or not their peg fits perfectly into the hole they want to fill. I’ve tried dropping CVs into places over the counter, but I keep being told to apply online. The whole idea of humanity being important in a job is gone, and it basically means that everyone now not in a job will not get one. The economy’s bad, and with an attitude like this, it’s only going to get worse. Just because somebody has been working in a particular job for a few years is absolutely no guarantee that their work is any good. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of dealing with someone in a position where they couldn’t believe how badly the staff member operated. And yet that person will still get the job over someone like me ten times out of ten. It’s a broken system perpetuating the status quo, reducing competition, and ultimately dragging down the general ability pool which it purports to improve. I wanted to come here, work and get involved in the country but with such an uncaring, blind group of people in charge, I’m starting to look at other options in other countries now where I will be seen as more than just the sum of my CV parts. The system’s broken and needs some serious fixing.