'The world stopped but my bills didn't': My year as a pandemic jobseeker

Grace McCallion secured a job at Reed after a year of working temporary roles

Grace McCallion secured a job at Reed after a year of working temporary roles - Credit: Grace McCallion/Archant

A marketing and communications graduate who worked as everything from a Chinese takeaway delivery driver to a Covid tester has spoken of the relentless struggle to find work in the pandemic. 

Grace McCallion, had been offered her "dream" graduate role having left City College Norwich in 2020 but instead found herself working tens of temporary contracts before landing a permanent role.

The Norwich 20-year-old said: "It was so demoralising. I'd worked so hard for three years to try and get into marketing but ended up working as a carer after only two days training - then I was out on my own. I have a huge amount of respect for carers, I always did but even more so now."

Miss McCallion's other contracts - some of which could have been as little as a day long - included Covid data administration, cleaning, call handling and Covid test packing.

She said: "I did so many temporary contracts I lost count but I wanted to feel like I did my part during the pandemic.

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"I grew up working in the family business so I always had a strong work ethic - the world might have stopped but my bills didn't so I just took whatever job I could find. Sitting down and waiting just wasn't an option."

Miss McCallion's situation reflects the national picture, with recent figures revealing 80pc of job cuts have been in roles held by under 35s with a sustained level of unemployment for six or more months at a five-year high. 

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Luckily Miss McCallion was offered a temporary role with recruitment firm Reed which then led to her accepting a permanent position. 

She said: "It was a really difficult year but strangely I don't think I would have got my job at Reed if I hadn't worked all of those other roles and adapted my skills. 

"It was the things I learned during the year, phone manner and how hard I worked, which lead Reed to put me forward as a recruitment consultant.

"I was actually offered another job at the time but I chose to stay with Reed because of how supportive they had been over the past year."

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