I didn't want to write this piece because I think everybody's talking about it and I didn't want to be repetitive and whiny, you know? But last week I stumbled across a Facebook status that asked if graduates are trying hard enough to seek and gain employment. The comments on the status were troubling, the blog post the status-maker wrote after the status was even more troubling.
It's easy to make sweeping generalisations about the laziness of unemployed graduates, especially if you are employed or not a graduate. As most of us know, in the good old days, a (wo)man who obtainath a degree obtainath a good thing, but those days have been washed away by this island's forever-rain. Now you need experience, personality, experience, transferable skills, experience, somebody on the inside, as well as experience.
According to this particular blogger, graduates aren't creative enough and we don't have transferable skills because university doesn't teach you that. Most graduates and lecturers will be able to tell that this blogger is not a graduate. Many university courses implement transferable skills into their programmes of study, there's teamwork, research, meeting deadlines, good writing and communication skills, etc. And in order to pass with a good mark you usually have to do these things.
People, like this blogger and Nick Hurd, seem to forget that there are two parties in the job search playground, the employers and the prospective employees, and there are usually more wannabe employees than employers. There's only so much that the prospective employees can do to become real employees, at the end of the day it's down to the employers to choose who they want. In my job search adventures I've learnt that a rejection doesn't necessarily mean that I'm under-qualified, or lack creativity or transferable skills, it just means that I wasn't the right fit for that particular role, with that particular company.
Another issue is experience, a lot of companies want somebody with experience but then gaining experience can be difficult, and it's very easy to end up in a roundabout where you're unable to take the exits because they're all dead-ends. I've had to make my own experience, and I've found it remotely easy because blogging is cheap/free, and there are many avenues to promote my writing for free/cheap. Not many people have that luxury. About two weeks ago I went for an internship interview for an assistant editor position with a small start-up company. The employer commended my CV, we got on well in the interview and she said my interview was excellent - she wouldn't change a thing. I didn't get the job, I was over-qualified she said. She suggested that I aim for bigger companies who can offer more than she could. The thing is, I don't usually make it to the interview stages, out of the however-many-jobs I've applied to over the last four months, I've been to three interviews, two of which were for unpaid internships. I've been turned down from retail jobs including customer sales assistant at Sainbury's and Three.
I have an up-to-date linkedin profile with my best work, and I tailor my CVs and cover letters to the company I'm applying to. I search for jobs I am qualified to do and have experience in, I research the companies, I demonstrate my skills. Yet, employers rarely ever call me back and I don't know why.
Yes, there may be some graduates who are lazy and bring their unemployment on themselves, but there are many of us who aren't and can't afford to be. We try, we work hard, we have good grades, we show initiative, we are creative, we are dynamic, and we might be funny. So why are we unemployed?
Follow Damilola Odelola on Twitter: www.twitter.com/adoseoflola