Dulach Glynn, a Public Relations and Communications professional attended our first ever two week Jobs Club programme in Greendale, Kilbarrack this January and has kindly shared his thoughts on the course. You can find out more about Dulach on his blog and through his LinkedIn account.
“A few weeks ago, I received a letter from the Social Welfare Office who volunteered my services to the Greendale Jobs Club for two weeks. It contained a thinly veiled threat that Jobseekers Allowance may be withdrawn had I not turned up. I was not exactly amused with this letter, nor would you be. However reticent I was, I told myself if I had to go, I had to go. Living on social welfare is not a happy place to be.
You do ask yourself what can you be doing for two bloody weeks that you’re not already doing. Was the Greendale Jobs Club really going to stretch the monotonous task of job-searching for two weeks? From 9:30am to 4:00pm for two weeks would probably make you want to run headfirst into a wall from 9:30am to 4:00pm for those two weeks. I mean you tailor cover letters and curricula-vitae and send them left, right and centre in hope one of them might stick and you get a job offer. Mostly, you’d be lucky if you get a response. If you’re lucky.
The lack of closure in a way is more tortuous than a rejection letter as you live in false hope that you may be needed. It’s not Hell. It’s worse than that. It’s Purgatory. Hell is at least a definitive place whereas Purgatory leaves you at crossroads where all signposts are marked ‘Nowhere.’ It is a place so empty and dark. It’s both claustrophobic and intimidating. I therefore told myself that the Greendale Jobs Club is a lot better than sitting at home where there’s a temptation to either do nothing or procrastinate. I had to give it a chance. It was not in my interests, nor the other unemployed individuals, not to give it a chance.
On the following Monday at 9:30AM, I turned up. The Greendale Jobs Club is beside the place I feel both helpless and guilty for being unemployed – Intreo. I must emphasize that Intreo are very helpful even if the person I offered to fix his computer said no to my help. The guilt is in me, just like it is in others. It was time to grin and bear it. I took a deep breath and went in.
Fifteen others were in the same predicament as me, feeling angry and helpless at being unemployed, but we were all very different people from different backgrounds. The men outnumbered the women 3:1. The unlucky people to tutor us were Trina and Maeve before we, Unemployed Unanimous, introduced each other.
Slowly but surely, Trina and Maeve taught us that we were not as useless as we thought. We learnt that the skills we have can be adaptable to other jobs, other industries. We also learnt that we had more skills than we thought. The problem that we have, as being unemployed, is that we tend to pigeonhole ourselves and at that into a rut. They gave us back the confidence we so dearly needed. Cracks in the jobless wall were beginning to appear. We learnt simple things like we should keep ourselves hydrated as drinking water helps us keep our mind active.
Quickly, the CV’s and cover letters that we have were greatly improved from the thousands we previously sent out. Darren, the resident Greendale Jobs Club computer whiz-kid gave us a guided tour of useful jobsites on the web, from LinkedIn and Google Alerts, to Twitter and Facebook. Yes, I did say those last two. They are a lot more useful than most of us care to think. It’s how you use them that’s important. He also helped the technically inefficient by giving them a quick guide tour of computers. Darren also advised us of free or low-cost events that we could attend. Furthermore, we learnt about the STAR technique, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how they could improve how we attain our goals and how we prepare for interviews. We also did mock interviews and of course job-searching, but how to do it more constructively. Job-searching was our daily homework.
We learnt that helping others is a rewarding experience, whether it’s your family or the community. Help puts a smile on their face and smiling is contagious. Finally we learnt that our own sanity was important, that you should have one day of the week that you don’t worry about looking for work. Whether it was exercise, going to the cinema or something completely different, it was up to you. Had any of the staff heard of available jobs in our requisite fields, The Greendale Jobs Club let us know.
Certainly all the team in the Greendale Jobs Club were very helpful, not just Trina, Maeve and Darren. Siobhán from a nearby office heard myself and a friend give out about unemployed life and she was able to give us direction. On a separate occasion, she also advised us available positions. It was not the fruitless exercise I imagined. I do feel better for turning up and made friends with many of the others who attended.
Fifteen quickly became thirteen. I’m sure more will follow”.