On the Hunt: The Struggle to Find a Job

Being a student, we are often slaves to our schooling timetable. Sometimes we have all our classes spread over two days and it is a feat worth celebrating. You did it: you managed to fit the appropriate ratio of study, work and leisure into your lifestyle. You have time to do whatever you want. Employers will love you. They will lavish you with job opportunities and, once you’re hired, you will get as many shifts as you deserve for being so flexible.

If, however – and this ‘if’ is a common burden on our young lives – we get a terrible timetable, our life is ruined. How can we manage our time? What are we going to do during that ridiculous four-hour break?

Financial independence can often get in the way of our study and visa versa. Keeping up respectable grades and being as available for work as possible can prove to be difficult. Finding a job that suits your timetable feels almost like hunting for big foot; does it even exist? You enviously wonder how your friends are able to manage their work-study balance and can’t help but roll your eyes at other friends who are financially supported by their parents. How do they manage, the poor things?

It’s shocking to see what employers expect out of potential recruits. Who knew that working Monday to Friday, nine to five was considered ‘casual’? It sounds more like a full-time commitment than a casual hook-up every now and then. And what is a rotating seven-day roster? Does it have its own orbit?

Look, I’m just trying to find a job on the days I don’t have uni, why must you make this difficult? And could you please not expect me to have traveled to the moon or have won a Nobel peace prize for my work in astrophysics in order to work at your overpriced clothing store? Many employers require a substantial amount of experience to work in a field but none are willing to provide that experience.

Are employers becoming too lazy and frugal to provide new skills to an individual? If you need somebody with three to five years experience for a casual job in retail then you’d be better served hiring a life coach to smack you with a dose of reality.

What is the point in taking a barista course if you can’t find a café willing to take on an inexperienced, yet eager individual? It is understandable; they would rather spend their money on somebody who knows what they are doing. But it begs the question: how on Earth did these experienced individuals start out? Surely they were inexperienced at one point in their lives. Or maybe they were they brewing baby chinos in the womb? Do they count their time playing pretend shop as valid experience in the retail industry? Surely they’d have ‘cash handling’ down pat.

A more likely conclusion would be that these heavily experienced individuals have embellished their resume. We’ve all done it; extending the length of time we’ve worked at our last job, adding visual merchandising to your skill set just because you placed a book on a display rack, changed your degree and your university so you sound intelligent and for some of you non-Anglos, you’ve changed your last name to sound less ethnic (yes I have done so and yes it unfortunately works).

Employers look down on this heavily, many times threatening that if the information provided to them regarding your work history is false, you will be reprimanded, but can we really blame the potential employee for trying to fit the standard that the employer demands? I personally think it shows real chutzpah, real audacity – if you can’t get your foot in the door with your real experience then why not pull strings to get an interview and impress them with your attitude?

This is not a revolutionary issue, but with unemployment rates at a steady 5.8 percent (according to the ABS as of December 2013) the prospect of stable casual work looks pretty glum for the independent student. Young people are placed with a lot of stress, dealing with an unstable income and unemployment only exacerbates the issue. It can be a tough life but until we have gained enough experience and complete our degree – or until employers are willing to employ an individual with little experience – it seems we have no choice but to lie, cheat and steal for some stability.

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Vox Pop – Dominique Hermo