For those who have never had the delightful experience of claiming jobseeker's allowance, your first meeting with your adviser involves designing a Jobseeker's Agreement which states exactly what you're going to do each week when it comes to looking for work. Mine details that I'm going to do 26 things a week. This doesn't mean applying for 26 jobs a week, but stuff like doing an online search or sending out a speculative CV counts towards these things. Not too difficult really, if you check a few job sites daily. In the past month I've applied for 12 jobs, some library related and some not. I'm at the stage where I'm still being a bit picky and going for jobs I'd actually like to do and would actually be a bit decent and not make me want to cry. I've filled all of these in my 'Looking for work' booklet which I'll have to show to my adviser on Friday and I'm hoping he'll realise that I'm perfectly capable of finding and applying for vacancies on my own and don't need any data entry or call centre job adverts sending to me. I'm not feeling too hopeful though. There is a slight chance that if I look like I'm doing too much then he'll make me do 50-60 things a week and send out loads of speculative CVs for no good reason.
'Pace and Purpose'
Tomorrow I have to attend my 'Pace and Purpose' Individual Skills Programme course which involves basic IT skills development, internet and website introduction (including how to set up email accounts) and sessions on CV preparation & understanding job adverts. Sigh. Something tells me I'm about to embark on the longest and most pointless two and a half days of my life. Plus, once I've done this course I feel like I will have well and truly sold my soul to the job centre and be at the mercy of my adviser as I'll have to apply for horrendous jobs via the government's 'compulsory for jobseekers' Universal Jobmatch website. I've done a bit of research, via other blogs, about this site and it has become evident that this website is probably the most pointless thing ever when it comes to job hunting. One such example is Nikki Jayne's blog post about her experience being 'on the dole' and using Universal Jobmatch. I will write up my experience of using the site in due course.
While I should be reserving judgement until I've actually attended the course, I can't help but be cynical. After hearing from friends who have been unfortunate enough to attend it in the past, I am under no illusion that it's probably going to be like being back in a year 8 IT lesson. It's a shame that the 'system' can't be more intuitive for people like me and others who are already IT literate, have no problems with making a CV and filling in application forms and just need a bit of financial assistance until they get sorted. Would it be too much to ask to have job centre staff who are trained to understand the needs of graduates or people who have been in work their whole lives? There seems to be limited understanding towards tailoring job hunting for those who have perhaps been made redundant or fancy a career change; everyone is just forced to apply for the same generic jobs via the Universal Jobmatch site or made to upload their CV to things like Monster or Reed. It makes no sense and seems to be a waste of everyone's time.
However, despite my cynicism about the next few days, I am feeling quite positive about my job hunting so far. There does seem to be jobs out there, even in the desolate wasteland that is the North East. These might not be library jobs or in the exact sector I want to work in for the rest of my life, but there are plenty of jobs that I wouldn't mind doing for the next few years until I gain more experience and get my Master's finished. I'm going to try and be as picky as I can for as long as I can.
Stand by for my write-up of my Pace and Purpose course. I'm sure it is going to be an 'interesting' experience.