Published 19 August 2013
How To Be Jobless (HTBJ) is a blog written by an anonymous and jobless journalism graduate. In his/her own words: “I have a Masters from a prestigious school of journalism, have been published in national and international publications, and am one of the many thousands of hilariously qualified unemployed people in the clutches of 2013.
The HTBJ blog has grown in popularity over the last few months, bringing together those who are currently languishing in unemployment purgatory, reminding them that they are not alone and that there is always reason to remain positive and upbeat. Below, Mediargh poses a few questions to the blog’s mysteriously anonymous creator…
Through blogging, you have decided to try and create some positives from your unemployment predicament. Can you sum up just what exactly these positives are, and why your blog should be of interest to jobseekers?
HTBJ: HTBJ looks at unemployment and the miserable, unfair position today’s youth have been thrown into in a way that will hopefully make you laugh your balls off. I started HTBJ because I was becoming despondent and not much fun to be around. I absolutely HAD to make the hell I was going through funny. If I bottled it up I would have let it out in the most inappropriate way – and location – possible, I know it. I’m a huge believer in sharing your pain, but in joke-form. No one likes a whinger. It’s also about solidarity, which no other site seemed to be offering. There are many sites where the focus is advice, dispassionate reporting of unemployment figures and that head-patting “Sorry Gen Y, you’re buggered!” attitude – none of which made me as a jobseeker feel remotely better.
You have a Masters degree in journalism from what is, in your own words, a prestigious journalism school. Looking back, do you think the studying was worth it or do you wish you had done things differently? Did you expect difficulties with landing a job upon graduating?
HTBJ: I do think it was worth it. I genuinely did gain skills and experience I wouldn’t have otherwise gained. Plus I feel quite prepared – I’ve never met a working journalist who’s anything like as stressed as we were on a daily basis. What I do regret is being sucked in by the marketing of the course. I actually believed the hype, that it was basically a ticket to employment. It was really just directions to the station. Doing a Journalism Masters very much requires you to read the news, so it didn’t take long for me to realise I’d have problems landing a job upon graduating. Especially when fellow students mentioned their contacts, previous experience and parents’ jobs. I didn’t have anything like that. No names worth dropping. So yes, I started to figuratively shit myself quite early on in the course when I realised I’d been sold, not so much a lie, as an exaggeration.
You mention briefly in your blog that you’ve had experience working in journalism and that you’ve had writing published across a variety of magazines. Are you able to delve any deeper into this and provide further details without putting your anonymity at risk?
HTBJ: I’ve been published in The Sunday Times, ShortList, Times Higher Education (photography), Attitude, a couple of regional magazines, and I’ve done travel writing and photography for an American travel magazine. I also guest edited a couple of websites.
Is journalism on its arse? I keep hearing conflicting opinions. Some people insist that journalism is a wonderful industry to work in while others suggest that it is pretty fucked, and should be avoided at all costs. Thoughts? Have you considered alternatives?
HTBJ: Journalism is a bit like London – there are days when you hate it and feel completely alone in it, but then nowhere else seems as good. Journalism is, if you’re lucky, one of the most varied and interesting industries there is. It also happens to be dotted with people sporting some of the ugliest traits – dishonesty, vanity, elitism, misogyny, racism, and your bog-standard arrogance. I actually have an alternative to journalism, should I wish to take it (I’d blow my anonymity completely if I revealed it, it’s a bit niche. NB: it’s not porn). I’ve definitely considered alternatives – hence the central premise of the blog, which is that I’m giving myself a year to land a job in journalism before chucking it in. After a year, I’ll allow myself to seek out something else – if I can bring myself to do so. This is really about not being ready to give up the dream, the goal that you set yourself as a wide-eyed, hopeful newbie.
With regards to joblessness in the UK in general, what do you think are some of the main problems? Unpaid internships? Class barriers? Too many graduates and not enough jobs?
HTBJ: A big part of it is, of course, that the economy is buggered. There’s just no money, which is why while we’re at home unemployed, many of The Employed People are sitting at their desks overworked. I feel for them, too. It’s a ridiculous situation. Don’t get me started on unpaid internships, and it’s embarrassing that class barriers are even an issue in a supposedly enlightened age …but it’s that last one that really irks me. Go back a stage further to where all these jobless graduates came from: universities are now packing their courses to the rafters at nine or ten grand a pop, in full knowledge of the fact that there are not enough jobs to go around. Yet each and every graduate-to-be is being sold the same lie, “this course will make you employable”. The government, too, is publishing research on how much more those with degrees will earn in their lifetimes – the message is “GO TO UNIVERSITY AND YOUR LIFE WILL BE AMAZING”, yet they know a huge section of them will be disappointed. On top of that, every few weeks someone makes headlines for saying young people are “job snobs” and instead of so arrogantly going after the “better” careers, should take what they can get (Poundland, anyone?). Since we were ALL acting under the misapprehension that qualification after qualification would make us employable, who NOW should be the ones to give up and apply to Poundland? Any takers? Anyone? Of course not. We’re each hoping we’ll be one of the ones who get through. Why would anyone so readily give up something they’ve been working for since their GCSEs?
Do you have any tips on how jobseekers can remain positive while unemployed?
HTBJ: Sure, here are a couple...
1) Laugh about it, however you can. Even if it means calling that friend you like, but couldn’t cry in front of – you’ll end up having a drink and making a joke about it so you don’t embarrass yourself.
2) Indulge. Exhibitions, reading in the park, whatever makes you feel fuzzy inside. At some point you’re probably going to get a job, and then you’ll surrender any extended period of free time until you retire. Do you want to spend the next few decades knowing you spent your relatively brief period of freedom doing nothing except getting a mean case of application arse?
3) Go outside. It’s a great place. Where normal people go.
4) Get a coffee machine. The tamping, frothing the milk and the incessant cleaning of the damn thing really breaks up the day.
If/when you finally get the job you’re searching for, will you reveal your true identity?
HTBJ: Wow, that’s a good question! While there may come a time when I don’t need to hide it anymore, I’ll probably never really shout about my identity. The reason I’m hiding it is because it doesn’t matter who I am. No one cares about my jobhunt. HTBJ is about everyone’s jobhunt, everyone’s struggle. Also it’s quite fitting that I’m anonymous since all jobseekers are anonymous – they don’t get even the courtesy of a rejection from many employers. Having said that, I might reveal who I am just so my real persona can stay in touch with some of the hilarious people I’ve come into contact with since starting HTBJ. A job would be lovely, but it would also be nice to have a un-pixelated face again…
Blog: https://howtobejobless.wordpress.com/ | Twitter: @howtobejobless