Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about making art, too much eyeshadow and becoming a grown up.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Graduate Unemployment - My Experience

So, this is kind of new territory for me. Up until now on this little blog, I've kept it light really; some lipstick here, some bath bomb worshipping there, but really there hasn't been much 'real life' chat and I kinda want to change that; I want this blog to be a bit more 'me', I want to have more of my personality in it and I think part of that is talking about subjects that I feel strongly about, especially if there's a chance it could maybe help someone, even if it is just making one person smile or feel less alone.

I'm sure we've all seen the headlines and heard the stories about the difficulties many folks are having with finding jobs in this economic climate - lots of people of all different ages and skills are affected and unfortunately I recently experienced it for myself. I graduated from Uni last June with a 2:1 in Digital Arts (my first two years were in Fine Art, so I actually had pretty balanced experience) and to be honest, we on my course had basically spent the our Honours year hearing all the job market horror stories and burying our head in the sand. Surely it would be better by the time we graduated? Surely our hard work would pay off and be appreciated? And for some it was, for the majority of us, unfortunately, we were not able to find work in our field and for many, no work at all.

Initially I was employed part time as a barista - the job that I had worked through Uni - and although it was disheartening to be moving on with my life, at least I had something and I wasn't struggling much. However, to cut a long story short, just a few days into 2014, I found myself unemployed altogether. It's scary. I just want to get that out there: it is a scary and often isolating experience, you're not alone in feeling that if you're unemployed right now!

I got my first job at 13 and have worked ever since; through school, college and uni - I literally can't remember not having a job and education and now... there was nothing. I really felt very dazed and numb at first, I had always been told you know, if you stick in at school, you'll get a good job and yet now... nothing. I had nine years of customer service experience and now, nothing.

So, I applied for Jobseekers benefits and ventured into the Job Centre - not necessarily a pleasant experience. It's very difficult when you are a hard worker who's fallen on some bad times, to deal with the feeling that you're somehow 'failing' or doing something wrong - I know that's how I felt anyway. I felt really humiliated and I honestly hid at home to avoid bumping into anyone, because I couldn't bear the thought of telling them I was unemployed. Looking back, it's easy to feel like I was overreacting; lots of people have a period of unemployment in their life, especially these days, and as long as you're doing everything you can to find work, there is nothing to be ashamed of.... but at the time, it didn't feel like this. My self confidence plummeted, I was applying for job after job (that I was qualified and experienced to do) and wasn't hearing anything back from most of them at all, let alone getting an interview.

After a while, when my confidence had plummeted nicely and a paralysing sense of desperation had set in I did get interview! It was for a part time sales assistant position with a national retailer - not really enough hours, and not what I had studied for four years to do, but I would have been grateful for anything at that point. After three stages, two weeks and a face to face interview that lasted almost two hours I got the call to say I didn't get it. It had all gone well, but I just wasn't quite right for the role. Even though I knew deep down that this job wouldn't have been enough hours, or practical, or beneficial beyond solving the immediate unemployment issue... I was devastated. I barely held it together through the call, and I'm not ashamed to say I holed up under my duvet and did not re emerge until the next day. I felt as though I was back to square one; there were no more interviews on the horizon, no sign that this unemployment was going to end soon; it was a very low time for me.

Waking up every day feeling like I had no reason to do so was difficult. That might sound crazy melodramatic, I know, but every day I watched my family go out to work, my boyfriend was busy with college and studying and I just kinda sat there. I had no money to go out and do anything, and ultimately there are only so many jobs in existence to apply for, so it left me with a lot of time. Time to worry, time to stress, time to cry and feel bad about myself. And watch far too much Netflix. I had this blog, obviously, and I'm a member of various forums - but ultimately it was a lonely time, I didn't know anybody else in the same boat at the time (though it turns out I did and we were all just hiding away because we were embarrassed) and I felt guilty every second when I wasn't applying for jobs and frustrated and depressed whenever I was.

Eventually (well actually it was only a couple of weeks later, but it felt like years) a job I had applied for ages ago and had given up on hearing from got back to me and invited me to interview. This was a full time barista position with a national chain; again, not what you get a degree to do but it would be enough hours to sustain me and there would be opportunities to work up the ladder. The excitement and nerves mixed together (along with, remember that crushing sense of desperation) and I walked away from the fifteen minute interview nearly in tears, convinced I had not answered well and had blown it - this shows how down about myself I was feeling as normally I feel I interview well and I have a lot of faith in myself, but at this point I was beginning to believe nobody would ever want to hire me and that feeling does not make you feel very good about yourself.

As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong, they did want to hire me! Once again I was in tears on the phone; but this time it was tears of joy. It's not the perfect job, it's not what I dreamed of doing as a child, but it has restored some sense of normality and purpose to my life and it's got me out and talking to people again. I feel so relieved to have put behind me this awful unemployment chapter and I pray not to find myself there again - but at the same time, like everyone else, I don't have full control over that and so I'm trying not to spend time worrying about it.

I hope it's OK that I've written and posted this, I'm not sure if it's even helpful or insightful or anything; it's just my story told like it is. It's difficult because I didn't want to write along the lines of "it's OK to be unemployed" because of course, it isn't really, but equally, I put myself down so, so much when it was me and I just wanted to write something that would maybe help someone feel less alone when they are going through it. Ultimately, you can only do your very best and as long as you are doing that then you have nothing to be ashamed of. Literally hundreds of applications are received for positions these days, competition is intense and that makes the pressure fell more so too. If you are in this position just now all I can say is keep your chin up, try your best and do not make yourself feel worse than you already do; if you wouldn't call a friend with the same problem "stupid" or "pathetic" or a "failure" then you shouldn't be saying it to yourself either! Things will get better; they probably won't be magically solved, but they will get better just hang in there and stay strong.

If you've never experienced unemployment then this was probably very dull for you, but then maybe someone you know has gone/is going through it and maybe it's been interesting from that point of you... or not. Either way, this was something I felt I wanted to write, for me, and for anyone else struggling out there. I am debating doing a second post with more tips and suggestions in it (rather than just my whining), and I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to see that.

As ever, and perhaps even more so than usual, thanks for reading - please leave any comments below, especially if you've experienced unemployment and would like to share your story.


  1. Love this post . I used to be a primary school teacher and I left England and I feel a little lost . Not sure what I'm supposed to do but something will turn up :) congratulations on the job :) xx

    1. Sorry to hear that you're experiencing this :( I hope that you find a job that makes you happy and fulfilled soon :) xxx

  2. Ahhhhh thank you very much <3 xxx


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