When the Guardian published an article at the beginning of November, claiming that graduate unemployment was at its highest in seventeen years, I admit that I felt a little nauseous. As we currently survive in this destitute economic climate where even the most employable doctors and intellects are jobless and there are seventy applicants for some graduate jobs, my own career aspirations and thoughts about working in my desired profession after graduation seem increasingly pessimistic.
Yet, this week I stumbled upon a potential new age of recruitment whereby you inevitably succumb to the preferences of an undesired job. Many of you may have noticed a group of attractive, slightly-cloned, chequered shirts wandering around campus over the past few weeks. They have taken over the library, local nightclubs and even Fab last Saturday and are on the hunt for new ‘talent’ to work in their highly anticipated, new American store in the Bullring. Yep, that one by the Bull, which, under corporate policy, booms music at 80 decibels and has been known to be adverse to you wearing a Poppy or a prosthetic limb…
I have noticed them indiscreetly checking out every person who walks past them, seeing if they have the looks to suit the store’s image, deeming skill and experience as blatantly unnecessary. A friend, who has no retail experience at all, was scouted out a few weeks ago and offered a job as a Model in the new store. She has since been for fittings and ‘meet and greets’ and has learnt that her role mainly consists of standing at the door and saying the ‘phrase of the season’ which is ‘Hey, what’s up?’, something which is totally alien to her but which she may choose to endure in order to maintain earning a living.
The point I want to raise is, in desperate times, are we susceptible enough to go to desperate measures? And where have we got lost along the way to allow for presenting the ‘right’, but false, image for a job takes presidency over expertise and hard work? The above example may be slight, but I wonder if this is a sign of our time. In a world where any employment is surely better than none, are these modern ways of selling yourself out to say you’ve got a job – even if it’s not the job you want – going to take over? Whatever happened to earning an honest living doing something you enjoy and have worked hard to achieve?
Being brought up on the notion that you graft in order to be successful and, having got myself in to thousands of pounds worth of debt to put ‘BA (Hons)’ after my name, I have never before considered being plucked from the crowd and given a job because of my face, body or clothes and I am certainly relying on work experience and proof of ambition on my CV to get me anywhere. Yet it would seem that at a time when we are all facing potentially dire career prospects, a way in is to sell out.
Printed in Redbrick: 3rd December 2010