What would you do if you were down to your last £500, unemployed and staring a lifetime in the dole queue in the face? Stockpile baked beans and other non-perishables? Invest half in an ISA and feel financially savvy but really poor for a year? Or perhaps buy 500 scratchcards and hope for the best?
Don’t be daft. You’d rent a billboard, of course. That’s what Adam Pacitti has done. The 24-year-old, who graduated from Winchester University with a first-class degree in media production, can’t get a job. Or, more specifically, can’t get a job he actually wants. So he has spent the last £500 of his savings on a billboard in Shoreditch, a part of east London dubbed “Silicon Roundabout” by its many new-media denizens, and Old Street roundabout by everyone else.
“I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job. Employadam.com” runs the giant advert, accompanied by a picture of Pacitti wearing the start-up upstart uniform of heavy-rimmed specs and floral shirt. The link leads to a video CV, in which Pacitti speaks of his desire to get a job in film production, broadcasting, advertising or any job in the “ultra-competitive, cut-throat and slightly vacuous industry that is the media”.
It’s all quite tongue-in-cheek, a bid for attention or perhaps a pitch for a brief career as a panel-show guest as much as for a first-round interview. But in an industry where limelight-grabbing and self-promotion are key workplace skills, going viral could be a wise career move. It’s probably a lot more fun (if rather costlier) than typing out a boring old CV, trying to remember what grade you got in GCSE biology, bigging up your Duke of Edinburgh bronze award and extracting “transferable skills” from a brief stint as a glass-washer at a Wetherspoon.
So good luck to Adam. He needs it. Today’s graduates emerge from university, clutching their scrolls, into a hostile world. About 40 per cent of university-leavers fail to get a graduate job more than two years after leaving education. There are close to a million 18- to 24-year-olds out of work. Students who began their courses in September 2012 can look forward to leaving in June 2015 with up to £27,000 in debts. As a result, more and more young people do not believe a degree is worth the paper it is printed on: this year the numbers applying to university fell for a second consecutive year, by 6.8 per cent, and are now at their lowest since 2009. In the jungle of the job market, it is every man for himself.
Is the billboard, then, the shape of things to come? Certainly, shouting about one’s unemployed status in public is characteristic of an era of self-splurging and oversharing instigated by Facebook and Twitter. In future, will graduates have to come up with ever wackier ways to sell, sell, sell their personalities, applying for jobs in the manner of desperate reality television hopefuls, because personality and infamy count for more than skills and experience? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
At the time of writing, Pacitti was still jobless. “I haven’t had any firm offers yet, but there’s been a lot of support,” he said. I hope it works out for him, but if he’s still unemployed this time next year, I’m sure Celebrity Big Brother would be delighted to have him.
Live by Facebook, die by Facebook
Talking of Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of the site’s founder, Mark, has fallen foul of the social network’s increasingly Byzantine privacy settings. A family snapshot she posted on her page over Christmas was spotted by a friend of her sister who promptly tweeted it to tens of thousands of people on Twitter. Randi Zuckerberg, understandably piqued, instantly berated her and asked her to remove it. “Not sure where you got this photo. I posted it to friends only on FB. You reposting it to Twitter is way uncool.”
Uncool, but not entirely surprising. The settings are now so confusing – Do you want close friends of your nephew’s acquaintances who may or may not be tagged in the background not to see this picture? Check this box! – even the Zuckerbergs can’t figure them out. It’s not a good look for Facebook at a time when social media users are already anxious about who can see and use their pictures.
How fortunate, then, that the family snapshot in question, leaked by a tweeting friend with an impressive 40,000 followers on a rival social networking site, showed the Zuckerberg clan larking about in a homely kitchen as they played with Facebook’s brand new Poke app. Otherwise we might never have heard about it at all.