Ep 1 (with audio) After speaking to my friends daughter recently I realised she and her friends think having trouble getting a job after leaving school is new to their generation. I’m sorry to break it to you. We don’t always get things ‘served on a silver platter’. I certainly didn’t. I’ve been ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’ a few times over the years. Let’s go back to early 1980 in Sydney, Australia when I first left school.
Firstly, in the early 80’s there were no computers, no mobile phones, no credit cards. In my late teens I was catching a bus or train to get around, or walking. As a girl you left school at 16 (unless you wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer). You were meant to get a job until you met someone, get married, have a family at around 23. It was all mapped out. Pretty easy hey…LOL.
Getting initial employment
Getting a job straight out of school was ‘no walk in the park’. It was tough. You scoured the newspaper for any jobs and would ring to enquire. Even if I got an interview they’d say, “you don’t have any work experience”. I’d ‘scratch my head’ and think to myself, “hang on, how am I supposed to get work experience if you won’t give me a job”?
I wasn’t at school anymore and that ‘fishpond, it had gotten way bigger’. There was ‘noone to hold my hand anymore’. Cause when you start out it’s about showing that you have a good work ethic. You can tweak the rest later. Employers want to see you are going to turn up and do your job. If you don’t have anything for them to go off then they will find someone else who does. After all you are an investment.
If your straight out of school and an employer won’t hire you because you don’t have work experience, get work experience. For me I ‘took it on the chin’ and started looking at anything to get me that elusive work experience. I did letter box drops, babysitting, and tried selling artworks door to door even. In retrospect I could have made it easier for myself. I could have gotten part time work in Macca’s or KFC or something after school…but I didn’t.
As a high school teacher many years later I would lament when kids from my role call class would be spurred on with promises. Promises of what working life would be like, and how much money they would earn. Reality bites. It might be like that for some people but ‘get with the program’. It should be might earn if your lucky rather than the former.
Know your strengths
If you aren’t sure what you want to do when you leave school don’t sink your efforts into a university degree yet. Figure yourself out first. Get any job and get a feel for what you do and don’t like. Do a lesser qualification even, so that it doesn’t ‘hit you in the hip pocket’ later. How can I say that? I sit back here after completing 4 stints at university over many years. I’ve gone to alumni meetings and I’ve heard stories from newly qualified lawyers even of how they can’t get a job because there is a glut of people in their profession. Do your research guys.
Look, I’m not a life coach nor in HR but I do know the game of employment or should I say…eeerrr unemployment. I’ll leave it there for now. Next post I’ll focus on my first stint unemployed and interstate.
- Scraping the bottom of the barrel to make ends meet – to use the last or only things available to cover costs
- Served on a silver platter – get something for nothing
- No walk in the park – not easy
- Scratch my head – confused
- Fishpond had gotten bigger – more people to compete with compared to what you are used to
- Noone to hold my hand – on your own
- Get with the program – do what is expected
- Took it on the chin – accept it
- Hit you in the hip pocket – cost alot of money
- Bugger all – hardly anything