Musings and Observations of an Unemployed English Graduate

The state of the job market 2013 is summed up by the statistics on a recruitment website – 5 million c.vs to 64,000 jobs.

Some jobs are up for less than a few hours before closing under the weight of applications. In 1 hour a job can be viewed 170 times, and each job has 50-200+ applications.

I was recently turned down for a receptionist interview – I met all the criteria with experience and additional qualifications but they had received “in excess of 200 applications”.

Every day I spam admin and care work employers. From doing this every day last month I managed to get one interview.

Labour’s target of over 50% of young people going to university has worked. So effectively in fact that graduates are now being overlooked in favour of postgraduates – I know people who have had to do a masters because an undergraduate degree in a non-vocational subject isn’t enough to beat the competition. I would like to do another degree, but as the tuition fees have gone from £1 000 to £9 000 I can’t possibly afford it. I still owe Student Loans £7 000. It goes up by £100 or so every year and I haven’t been able to earn enough to pay it back yet. In the 70s a member of my family did two degrees with government help – a general one and then a job-based one. Bursaries are not what they used to be.

Our generation often thinks that debt is normal. A lot of students aren’t bothered about debt – they’re already saddled with it. Many use their overdraft and go into debt on their credit card.

Many students saw, and still see the loan as free money and bought luxury items or went on holiday with it. It would be paid back one day. Unsurprising then that with these attitudes, public debt has doubled in 5 years to over £1 000 billion and is projected to rise by a hundred billion every year. Perhaps the increase in public debt is partly attributable to the rise in the cost of education.

As soon as you come out of university, you’re applying for jobs against people who have experience. But you have to have a job to get experience. So unpaid internships and voluntary work are sometimes the only option. I did unpaid work experience until I ran out of money, and then looked at another career area.

I sometimes wonder whether there was any use in getting a degree. It developed intellectual qualities but didn’t really make me more employable. One employer remarked that I was overqualified for the job. It’s disheartening applying for jobs requiring 2-5 GCSEs when you have a degree. I would recommend saving thousands and thousands of pounds and a hefty loan and doing a paid apprenticeship instead if your degree is not job-related.

Granted, if I’d moved to the big smoke I would’ve had more opportunity. But I don’t like the dirt, noise and crowds of London, and it would be tough doing an unpaid internship there with student loan debt and no savings. Still, it’s the best way to start – a friend got a marketing job doing unpaid work there, and others I know did the same, living for free with their family or friends. It’s all about contacts, and often it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

I can’t help but think that maybe the method of separating people into grammar school and technical school sections wasn’t such a bad idea.

Perhaps I’m just in the wrong industry – my boyfriend’s housemate informed me that his son came over to the UK aged 20 and got a job with no trouble. He went into a recruitment agency and they paid for forklift driver training. From that he got a better-paid job. Perhaps manual work is different.

I feel like I keep getting on the career ladder and falling off – I’ve done teaching, admin and care work but most were short term jobs and I left a secure job for a job where I was promised pay and didn’t see any, hence my predicament. Luckily I do a Saturday job for a few hours so I’m not totally reliant on National Insurance based help – which runs out in June.

So if you’re in sixth form and looking at university, think about what will happen afterwards. Look for gaps in the job market and think about whether you need to go to university to do what you want to do – you wouldn’t want to end up with thousands of debt unnecessarily. My friend decided not to go to university due to fees she couldn’t afford, and now has a job in the NHS with the experience she gained instead.

I’d welcome comments from you, my new reader.



Filed under Jobhunting

13 responses to “Musings and Observations of an Unemployed English Graduate

  1. Rosey

    Wow, I only suggested you do this a few hours ago! I’m glad someone’s talking about this! I can’t agree with separation into grammar schools and secondary modern type schools, because I don’t think you can possibly know what you’re interested in or what you’re good at when you’re that young. I think if anything we need to keep education more open, with a willingness to let students go off and experiment with vocational or academic studies if they have planned it and can keep up with their studies, and we definitely need more quantity and quality of careers advice in schools and after! I don’t know about you, but I had one careers meeting when I was 14 and that was it!
    I’d like to hear more about your daily search. Where you’ve looked; what you applied for; any responses you got; the lengths you’ve gone to find work etc. Compare that with some of the seemingly made up facts and figures that Cameron spews out every day and I think you’re onto a winner!

  2. Thanks Rosey! Blogging and reading blogs makes job hunting more entertaining.

    Great to have your feedback. I send out about 5 applications a day – I apply for every job I am suitable for on universal jobmatch, on recruitment websites and on university websites. I’ve applied for admin and care work – graduate jobs aren’t advertised on those sites and the big companies are in London, so I’m seeing what I can do here. I’ll check out your blog.

    • When I was desperate looking for a job almost 20 years ago, I applied for a job as telephone operator for the Philippine Long Distance and Telephone Company. I like the job, and I was quite sure I was qualified (i.e. I had worked as newscaster in a local radio station when I was in law school). The company called me to what I thought was an interview, but when I got there, I was told that they could not hire me because I was OVERQUALIFIED. I was a barrister and I was waiting for the results of the bar exams, and they were afraid that my qualifications would make my superiors uncomforable. Believe me, I wanted to sue them for violating my right to life! LOL!

  3. whoah this blog is excellent i like reading your articles. Keep up the great work! You understand, a lot of persons are looking round for this info, you could help them greatly.

  4. Great article!!! Since your degree is in English, have you considered the communications field for a job search? As a former recruiter, I would think you would be overqualified for a receptionist position. Of course I am in the states so the job market openings may be different here. However, considering the significant growth in the media industry, I would think your skills and education would be welcomed by public relations, public affairs and corporate communications departments. Just a thought 🙂

  5. Thank you! It’s good to have your recruitment perspective too. I’ll be on the look out for communications/PR positions

  6. Thanks for popping by my blog today.. enjoyed reading about the trials you’ve been going through as well.

    Though to be honest, it’s not any easier here in the ‘big smoke’. I’ve been working in my industry for about 12 years now, over 7 of it in lower or middle management roles, but yet I’ve still been unemployed since September and get no/little responses from my applications. In fact, despite my experience and recommendations, I still have had a TOTAL of 4 job interviews since September, 2 of them within the last 2 weeks.

    My fingers are crossed for you (and everyone else in our situation) that you find something soon .. and we can all leave Job Seekers Allowance behind us. 🙂

  7. @Rosey : I forgot where I read this, and it is paraphrased . . . “I woke up one day as an adult and realized a child had planned my life.”

    I have to admit after six months there are days I sit at the computer on the job boards and my eyes just glaze over and my mind goes numb. I have decided to spend less time at the computer by setting a time limit and working quicker. (By the way, I set a timer so I know when my time is up) ~Mary

  8. This blog is fabulous and very entertaining . Thanks for such a wonderful presentations.


  9. Pretty section of content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to claim that I get actually loved account your weblog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing for your feeds or even I success you access consistently rapidly.

  10. You write well and think soundly. The right job will find you.. Stay positive and get out there, mingle and meet people. Keep tossing pebbles in the lake. You’d be surprise how far the ripples travel. I enjoyed your post and wish you the best.

  11. Thank you Robert. I like the pebble analogy and will bear it in mind.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.