When I Was A Jobseeker (Back In The Day)
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I graduated from university back in 1992 and times were tough so it took me a little while to find a job. Back then the unemployment rate was around 10% compared to the roughly 6% it is nowadays and there was serious competition for each and every job that was advertised.
But back in those days you couldn't sit there and hunt for jobs from you home; the internet hadn't wasn't truly in existence as we know it today and websites that list most of the vacancies weren't available. You couldn't even get job centre information online such as you can now which meant regular trips to the physical offices whenever you had questions on things such as benefits.
And back then, the Jobcentre Plus premises were a truly gloomy place. They were grey and dreary and it really wasn't somewhere you'd want to spend a lot of time in, and yet the computers you found here were one of the few sources of job adverts that were truly comprehensive.
There were other things that have changed between now and then too. In those days it was still fairly common for you to stay in a job for a significant period of time, even for your whole life, and this meant that your CV would look a bit sparse compared to those of today. Even to this very day, I only have a handful of positions on mine and I've been in work for over 20 years. I now see people in their 30s with 5 or 6 jobs under their belt already so in an interview, they can talk about lots of different areas of knowledge.
I graduated from Bath University but I grew up on Teeside, but this was during a time when industry was in decline and I couldn't see too many prospects around at the time. So, much like graduates of today, I decided to move in order to improve my prospects and where else would I go but London?
London has always been a more expensive place to live than much of the rest of the country, but the difference wasn't so huge 20+ years ago and I managed to find a flat share where my rent was very affordable (compared to what I see people paying today). I spent day after day pounding the pavements handing out my CV to shops, restaurants and bars; at this stage I didn't mind so much what job it was that I got, as long as it paid my way. So my first position was just serving teas, coffees and cakes in a posh café in Knightsbridge, and from that point on I spent my spare time going to as many networking events as I possibly could.
So, in some ways, not much has changed; graduates still come to London hoping to find work and many will settle for any old job to begin with. What has changed is the way that people now find work with the internet being the primary source of inspiration. But I'd like to see a partial return to the more hands on approach of walking into businesses and asking about vacancies; it needn't be all that you do, but it should be a part of your job hunting endeavours. And while I had to rely on newspaper ads and word of mouth to find out about networking opportunities, you can now use sites such as meetup.com to uncover events being held in all sorts of industries.
Am I glad that I graduated when I did or would I have preferred to have had access to all of these new routes into work? Well, I guess I learned a great deal about perseverance and hard graft back then which I'm not sure is required quite as much in the information age and this has helped see me to where I am today, but in many ways I see parallels between my time and this time; they are both pretty tough to find your ideal career in. The key, at least as far as I was concerned, is getting outside of your comfort zone and not being afraid to get things wrong now and again. I made a fool of myself on more than one occasion whilst networking and during interviews but I just wiped the slate clean each time that happened and got on with things.
I suggest you do the same when things don't go your way.