Unless you’ve had the experience of being out of the workforce for an extended period, you probably have no idea what being able to write that sentence means.
I have a job.
I like saying it, I let it roll around on my tongue like a nice Barossa Valley Shiraz or a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
For three years I felt like some sort of ghost, disconnected from the real world I could see all around me but not touch or interact with.
I had no purpose or meaning, besides making myself a better job candidate of course.
I was like an outside observer, a kid in the snow with his nose pressed against the window of a restaurant where it’s warm and bright and everyone is enjoying themselves.
I spent a lot of time preparing myself for this day, going back to university to do a master’s degree and teaching myself video and graphics and editing skills, and that gave me a sense of direction and purpose which I definitely needed.
But it wasn’t the same thing that I have right now when I can wake up on a Monday morning with something to do, tasks to get my teeth into, colleagues to interact with, and new skills and experiences to learn and grow from.
I’ll admit having some money going into my account every fortnight doesn’t hurt either.
But in fact, the money was never the main motivating factor.
My ancestry is solidly British working class, and along with that come values like pride in your work, the dignity of labour, and making sure you keep out of the workhouse (otherwise what will the neighbours think?)
A job is more than an economic transaction in which you rent out your skill and labour in exchange for money.
It can provide a sense of identity and worth, meaning, purpose and direction.
It means I no longer feel like a ghost, drifting through a place I can’t feel connected to.
It also means that my articles can now start focusing on issues of language, communication, good and bad writing and why jargon must die, instead of being thinly veiled advertisements for why you ought to employ me.
But I won’t forget my experiences, the people who helped me simply because they are decent human beings, and some who decided I was of no further use to them and ignored my existence.
Nor will I forget those still struggling.
And can I please ask HR departments doing hiring to do one simple, basic thing?
If you’ve made a decision to hire a candidate, would you please, for the love of god, tell the other candidates they didn’t get it!
Officially I’m still waiting to hear back from at least seven job interviews. It can really break your spirit when there’s just silence. Don’t do it, seriously.
If any of you are facing similar struggles, please feel free to reach out to me, if I can help in any way I will.