“Searching for work will be my full time occupation now”

This is written in nice big clear letters on my job seeker’s handbook, because as everyone knows, the unemployed are lazy, feckless scroungers who need to be constantly watched and who would not even turn up to interviews unless pushed. Or at least, this is what we’re constantly told by the media and government. The reality of course is somewhat different.

Now don’t get me wrong, the advisers whom I have seen recently (yes, plural) have been helpful where they can be, and at least thus far, have not claimed anything more – unlike the DWP¹ who have, but that’s another story.

Anyway I had two interviews at the Job Centre today, one at 11:00 to prove who I am and that I am entitled to the benefits I get (a whole £71 a week) and the other at 11:45 with a nice lady from the NCS² who I saw last Tuesday. I turned up in plenty of time (about 10:50), and my first interview was late, not that it mattered. He looked at my paperwork, handed it back and said ok, that’s all. The second one, well, let’s just say they told me I must be wrong because she doesn’t work on Fridays. So much for that!

So anyway, I thought I’d map out a typical week for me, as a job seeker, so that you’ll know what to expect. Since I’m long term unemployed, it’s a little different but still… Of course, those of you who know me well will understand that I’m lazy and I like games, so I probably do less than many.

My alarm goes off every morning at 7:00, though I’m often already awake because of reasons. I get up and am usually either making or drinking my first coffee by 7:30 and then I spend the next hour bootstrapping my brain and getting myself fit to face the day. By about 8:30, I’m trawling through the emails that my job alerts on various sites have generated for me. I’ve generally responded to 10 or 20 of these by 9:00-9:30, and this goes on until I’m done with them or until noon, whichever comes first.

What comes next depends on the day. Three days of the week (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) I volunteer as a learning assistant, so I have to get ready and head over to the training centre for a couple of hours. This varies but is about 2 hours each time plus travel, though sometimes they ask me to stay a bit later. Sometimes I leave early of course. Other days I have CV updates, self-training, and filling in application forms for those applications that won’t take a CV).

This brings me to 3:00 or 4:00 depending, when I go back to deal with the emails that have arrived during the day. I’m usually done with these about 5:00-5:30, when I can (usually) start to relax…

Well actually, no I can’t. I have to go shopping for groceries (assuming I have any money to buy them, which is not guaranteed), or cook, because as the observant will have noticed, there wasn’t any time in there for eating! Anyway, once all that’s done, then I can relax after about 7:30 or so.

Sometimes (currently twice a week, but who knows after next week) I have to visit the Job Centre. This means a 30 minute bus journey each way, a 20 minute wait and a 30 or 40 second interview. Sometimes more of course, but usually not.

Today, due to one of my interviews not showing up, I’m home early to write this, and hopefully grab a snack (baked beans on toast… yummy) before I get back to it. I have some colleges to contact, a web-site to build and myself to promote. I am in the early stages of trying to set up my own business. It’s not easy. I’m also expecting a call back this afternoon from an agency regarding a potential job. Whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.

¹ Department of Work and Pensions.
² National Careers Service.