The Five Stages of UNEMPLOYdenialMENT

So forget grief a second. (And the running… my legs are on hiatus) Here I am, four months post last exam, every day I basically do the job of a broadcast journalist at a very nice, local radio station. But I’m not paid, I have no written agreements and I can’t afford to move out of my mum’s house. It’s a strange and unnatural state, this unemployment. And I’ve come to view my own experiences in five phases – not so much the stepping-stone progression stages like the Grief journey, more like a haphazard cycling of which lottery ball is going to spurt out of Lancelot today…

1. Determinedly Blind Optimism.


  • Innocuous thrill at the send of CV, Cover Letter and demo to job adverts
  • Belief of Smug Employed (S.E.) words of encouragement (incl: ‘The right job is out there, I KNOW IT’  Of course you do, you’ve bloody got it.)
  • Refusal to accept that that well-known media group really did make you spend hundreds of pounds getting your butt up to London for an interview on TWO DAYS notice, PLUS overnight stay, PLUS awful cold of the sandpaper-throat, dripping face variety just to Not Bloody Bother Contacting You Despite Follow-up Nag for three weeks and counting thereafter.
2. Anger of the Face-Mutilation Persuasion
  • This comes courtesy of a former classmate of mine, whose frustration about the well-meaning encouragement of S. E.s (see above) she likened to wanting to stab said S. E.s in their eyes.
  • Mainly when you’re unemployed you spend a lot of time alone with your anger. This can lead to it turning inwards, which is, let’s face it, not an unreasonable direction for it to choose.  After all, most of the people you went to school/university/old job/university again with have great jobs now, what’s wrong with you?  To avoid this turning into Phase Number 3, I would revert back to Number 1.  Or at least direct anger at the Philistines mentioned in 1.3
3. Oh Dear Misery and/or Depression of the Much Woe Is Me variety
  • One can only take so much rejection after application stage before one begins wondering whether it was something one wrote.  And conclude one is a terrible writer with no business calling themselves a journalist. Add alcohol.
  • One can only take so much rejection after the face-to-face interview stage before one starts wondering if it was something one said, unwittingly inferred or, in my recent case, facially leaked. And conclude one is a social miscreant with no business calling oneself a broadcast journalist. Add alcohol.  Add chocolate.
  • Age can be an issue at this stage I think.  Especially if you’re a 24-year-old Work Experience Girl constantly being asked what you want to do when you’re…er… finished.  Ok, it could be worse. I turn 25 in 2 months.
  • Living at home = major exacerbation of this stage.  Especially when your hairdresser, age 20, tells you she’s been living in her own flat since she was 16.
  • Alcohol makes much better… then much, much worse. Unless it is a Friday, then all the S.E.s become your lovely friends again.
4. Consideration of Career Change
  • In the past four months I have thought about becoming: a chef, an actress/singer, a dog-walker, a ferry attendant, cab driver, bus driver, pilot, policewoman, fire fighter, paramedic, doctor, nurse, architect, archeologist, painter, plumber, milk lady, teacher, lollipop lady, lecturer, author, paid blog-writer, inventor who goes on Dragon’s Den and discovers elusive Pathway Into TV, local politician, helicopter engineer, royal marine/army officer, naval officer, sailor, shop keeper, night watchman, lifeguard, priest
  • In the past four months I have done some semi-serious research into how one would become a: pilot, policewoman, fire-fighter, paramedic, archeologist, author, paid blog-writer, army officer, priest (if you count googling How To Pray during one dark depth of Number 3)
  • In the past four months I have taken steps to launch my new career path in:
5. Utter, Humiliating Desperation
  • See above for example of Google search provoked by such.
  • This stage can lead to those fateful additions to your Cover Letter which tip you over the edge – beware any sentence bearing the words ‘I know the job description says I need to be a qualified …. but….’  Also to be avoided is the classic: ‘Salary expectations? Well, to be honest, I will work for anything.’ Can lead to the fielding of some rather awkward questions.
  • Unfortunately this phase can also lend itself to Self Sabotage, and not in the Meredith Grey sense of the phrase.  This one applies to interviews.  You can find yourself gabbling on and on and on about how paranoid local people can be about their post offices closing while your inner voice is saying Dear God Shut Up He Only Asked You How You Got Here This Morning.
  • I should perhaps, given my current situation, offer a cautionary about the words ‘I’ll work for free’ but to be honest, I’m not going to rant about the work I’m doing because I DO love it and it’s not the money thing that drags me through these phases over and over and over again.  It’s the ego thing.  And that’s one thing my CV could definitely do without.
So there you have it, my Unemploydenialment Cycle of Me.  Learn from it if you will.  And if you’re lucky enough to have a job you love, well good for you.  Just wear sunglasses the next time you take your poor unemployed friend to lunch.



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