Being Unemployed is Hard Work

Fun-employment? Think again, says Jonny Chadwick

I am a third year languages student. If all had gone according to plan this year, and I could afford it, I’d be in Paris right now talking about how ‘ce merde est cray’ and eating damn croissants.

Instead, I’m parked in my parents’ satellite-town new-build for the rest of the year desperately scouring the job centre website for minimum wage jobs. This, Tab readers, is your guide to the mythical world of the non-privately educated, non-organic eating proles. This is unemployment.

(I should point out that I’m not actually on the dole, as taking an interruption of studies for financial trouble is classed as a ‘lifestyle choice’)


Getting free money is not all it's cracked up to be.

Getting free money is not all it’s cracked up to be.


It’s really, really dull

Unemployment is the Disclosure of earthly fulfillment: fun and kind of exciting at first, but swiftly becomes annoying and tedious on the fourth listen/week of sitting around watching Sky Sports news in your pyjamas.

I soon realised that it’s a lot like those extended periods off-school you get for having nits: it’s fun at first, and you get to miss Mr. Middleton’s RE lessons, but you quickly start to miss your mates and you lose out on seeing Dwayne Slater get stuck in the window on the Business Studies building’s third-floor.

While my Sunderland team on Football Manager do stand a great chance of making the top four this season, there’s only so much time you can spend feeling fulfilled by computer games, independent meal times and Four Tet’s discography.

At this point, you’re practically begging for your old job of serving UKIP voters groceries while they tell you ‘language degrees are useless now mate, everyone speaks English.’


This is not as fun as it first seemed.

This is not as fun as it first seemed.


Mehdi Hasan is right when he says there are no jobs out there (at least none that serve a purpose)

First off, the job centre website is comfortably the worst website I have ever seen. There is no option to filter jobs by salary or sector, meaning I found myself with as many offers of senior management positions as I did unskilled and admin work.

Next you have to deal with a job market that seems to be overflowing with opportunities to ‘work hard and get on’ (every politician, 2013), but actually provides no fulfilling employment, be it financial or personal.

Instead there are tens of 8-hour contracts at the local supermarket and commission-only sales jobs. This would be perfect if we were a country full of 16-year olds looking for pocket money to buy GTA V, rather than one with an aging population that was struggling to pay for heating.


Actually applying for jobs is soul-destroying

It takes a while for this to start to affect you, as you’re blinded by your determination to pay your way and just finish your degree. However, after telling Argos, Marks and Spencer and WH Smiths that they are a massive part of your family Christmas, it’s pretty hard to work up the will to say the same thing to Boots.


Jobs just aren't that easy to find.

Jobs just aren’t that easy to find.


It might be a worthwhile experience

One thing that can be said for unemployment, particularly for someone more at home in a Russell Group university library with a flat white than in a lime green shirt drinking Smart Price orange squash, is that it’s certainly character-building.

Students are known for travelling to south-east Asia to ‘discover themselves’ on their gap years, but I would contest you learn far more about your true self by having six different retail managers declare you unworthy of their hallowed uniform.

Either way, unemployment is rubbish, and I genuinely can’t imagine anyone would choose it over work. I’ve done it for two months and I’m well and truly fed up and demoralised, and that’s without having to visit the job centre to prove I’m not a ‘scrounger’.

So next time you pass the greatest target for Daily Mail headlines, Tory cries of ‘Broken Britain’ and middle-class scorn, spare a thought for the people in there. However unfair you think their free pay packets are, it’s most definitely not a desirable lifestyle.