Adjusting to unemployment
After deciding to leave a PhD programme, Seamus started to realise the reality behind Ireland’s youth unemployment statisics.
In January, I decided to withdraw from a PhD programme and so began the process of trying to gain employment in Ireland.
Unemployment is of course a very prevalent topic in Irish society today as the ongoing difficulties in the Irish economy mean 14.2% of people find themselves out of work.
Rising rates of youth unemployment
This has risen from 12.7% in 2008 to today’s figure, which represents one of the highest in the European Union.
A high youth unemployment rate has very worrying consequences for many parties including the youth themselves, wider society and the Irish economy.
Today, I find myself as one of the 30.8% and wish to simply offer my experience to date of being unemployed. Let me say firstly, I know it has only been three months since I withdrew from university and I realise many others have spent much longer unemployed in an economic environment where getting a job is not an easy task.
Road of dead ends
Having decided to withdraw, the next obvious step was to begin looking for a job. Initially, I felt as though this would be a straightforward process. Naively, I felt that a strong academic background would ensure I began working quite quickly. I drew confidence from the fact that many of my Masters classmates are working in excellent graduate positions and I believed I would be no different.
Up to now, how wrong I’ve been. The job hunt is a road with dead ends a plenty and many speed bumps to overcome on the way.
My experience of unemployment up to now has been largely negative as is to be expected. Outside of a fully stocked fridge, a comfy bed and seeing my Dad every day, I cannot see many more reasons to enjoy being at home unemployed. Again, I have no problem admitting that I did not envisage myself being unemployed.
After all, you go to college in order to gain a degree that will allow you begin a career. Therefore, I had not put much thought into what life is like unemployed and as a result have had much difficulty adjusting to where I now find myself.
Daily tasks for job-hunting
Each day on the job hunt feels eerily similar. You trawl the employment and recruitment agency websites searching for jobs you feel you can make a contribution in.
You doctor and tailor your CV and cover letter highlighting why your skills and experience make you and the company a match-made in heaven.
You submit the application and hope the company request to interview you for the position. That constitutes a successful day on the job hunt. Often reality is nowhere close to this.
Dealing with rejection
Sometimes you submit an application and hear nothing. No confirmation of receipt of your application and certainly no word of an interview. (This is quite rare but can happen). Often you get a reply saying something like “Dear Seamus, We have received your application but unfortunately you have not been selected. Thank you for your interest in …….”
Aside from the star graduates, the rejection email is the most common communication to receive for most of us.
Nobody likes rejection. But it’s something you have to expect I have found. I have been rejected at application stage, got to a final interview and been rejected, did a final interview and found out the job was subsequently cancelled, have made enquiries about possible internships but received no reply of any kind, and been told internships would not be a possibility in some companies. These rejections are hard to take and have left me questioning what I have done wrong.
The whole process of unemployment can cause serious personal issues also. Not having a job to go to can mean you find yourself lacking a purpose or direction in everyday life. You may feel a failure because you don’t have a job. You feel isolated and unsure where to get help and unfortunately may result in a negative affect on your well-being.
By being unemployed your self-esteem takes a hit and any rejection from a company simply compounds negative feelings of yourself. It’s not to say that this is the case for all unemployed young people but it may be a problem for some. I know I have felt completely useless and guilty at times over the last couple of months because I don’t have a job.
I’ve had feelings of shame and embarrassment when someone asks what you’re doing with yourself and you say you’re unemployed and at home. I feel somewhat jealous of former classmates who are making headway in their careers and leaving me in their wake.
Making use of contacts
Despite the economic environment that exists at present, I am optimistic. I have been very lucky that people I know have put me in touch with their contacts and some avenues look promising. Friends and classmates are always available to give their thoughts and see if openings exist where they work. Using personal contacts and networks are important methods of trying to find yourself employment by highlighting what you can bring to their company.
I don’t feel like I have a divine right to a job but it is a tough slog nonetheless to get on the career ladder. I hope many others do not experience the same feelings of uselessness and disappointment whilst unemployed that I have. Hopefully it changes for as many of the 30.8% sooner rather than later.