So I have just returned from job centre minus for the second time this week.
It was inspirational, invigorating, exciting, relevant and demeaning.
So inspirational that I have poured myself a beer. Though I was going to do that anyway – I’ve had a tough, busy week. More on that in a minute. Plus it is listed in the conditions for jobseekers that I spend some of it on beer.
Last time I was made unemployed, it took me nearly two months to get around to applying for benefits as I was having too much fun. This time I thought I would be organised and applied for it the next morning after losing my job.
I applied for it starting last Thursday, not realising that I was still employed until this Wednesday. I found that out about 20 minutes after applying.
I didn’t think much further, went down to job centre absolutely not fucking plus on Monday morning for my 9am appointment, the doors were closed until nearly 9:10am, waited for my appointment sat next to someone clearly angry, waited longer whilst he kicked off during his appointment when she questionned him about being unemployed for 13 years which is all due to him being discriminated against for being a rastafarian.
Only then to sit down and find that they cannot change the start date of my claim and I would have to submit a new application.
So I went home (30 minutes walk), tried to apply but it wouldn’t start my application due to stored information in the browser. Tried a different browser, same problem. Bizarre. Tried private browsing and was then told by the system that I cannot have jobseekers and must apply for Universal Credit.
I went through the Universal Credit screening process online and it said I was not eligible for it. Couldn’t apply for jobseekers either.
So then I called the number and eventually got through to someone after a long-winded menu system who then put me through to someone else who then tried to insist that I had to apply online.
A few minutes of polite, calm reasoning later and she was taking my application by phone which took 30 minutes.
So today I went for my new appointment. An hour interview, basically him filling out forms – though I did spend around 10-15 minutes trying to use this useless signing screen to detect my signature before it would finally accept it.
There was a moment of mild consternation when he asked what other jobs I would be looking for apart from web developer roles, and I replied “front-end developer, back-end developer, full-stack developer, WordPress developer, Drupal developer…” – he insisted that I should spread my net wider and I negotiated at one extra role. Credit control. Which I of course will not be applying for any jobs for even though I could command a far higher salary than a junior web developer.
And then I came home. With a bag of onions.
Government beaurocracy at its best. Now I feel unemployed. I feel part of the system.
There was one bright spot in that he suggested that it may be worth me going down the route of becoming self-employed, which is my eventual goal, but I would rather work for an agency for a few years before having my own agency. And that there is a New Enterprise Allowance fund, similar to jobseekers, with a business mentor. Which is good government. And is my back-up plan if I am still unemployed in a few months.
I’m not sure I can cope with being unemployed for that long. Last time was hard enough with redundancy money that I was happy to splurge and regular visits from semi or unemployed friends. It is the being by myself thing.
This time I am acting as though I have a job. I am treating Monday to Friday as a working week, with studying or coding websites roughly from 8am to 6pm every day, with a few breaks. Granted I took a half day today – I am not amused that I am going to have to sign on every week instead of every fortnight as it was previously, with the amount of time and beaurocray that takes.
No update on jobs – nothing positive anyway. The one I had a really tough Skype interview for last week I didn’t get. No surprise. I’ve some bullshit conversations with a couple of agencies and applied for a total of 27 jobs online in total now, including some I have found on corporate career boards instead of the usual reed/indeed bollocks. Some really damn cool companies.
More importantly, I have massively improved my portfolio – it looks much cleaner than what went before. Still a few areas to be fixed but you can have a look seeing as you made it through the utter crap I wrote above.
Next up I am going to create a kind of agency site but with a very me kind of twist. Not something at all sensible but something that might catch people’s attention.
I have to say that I have had a lot more fun coding at home than I had towards the end of my job where I was just doing dull-as data entry. But I do worry about the loneliness of being home alone all the time, nobody to have face to face interactions with except when I go to Sainsburys on a yellow sticker scavenger hunt at 9pm. I am on a £25 a week budget so that rules out getting the tube to London even if someone is buying me a pint.
I shall try to spend more time exercising and DJing too – funnily enough the guy at job centre minus did suggest that I should try to get some DJ gigs. Hmmm.
Until I have an income, it is heads down, crack on, study hard. By myself.