My Story

I will post updates to My Story – my unemployment story, my Great Recession story – at least once a month. Hopefully, My Story will show others they are not alone, and maybe help them keep going in the face of such Hard Times.

I should note that I live alone, I have no children, I am estranged from my immediate family, I am over 50, I have a small amount of savings, I never did have property nor much of a pension, I have worked all my life, and I am the sole source of my income, health insurance, and other necessities of life.

July 17, 2011

Since the June 25 update I’ve dropped the 16-week job-search workshop, made my photography class a top priority for my time, got feedback from a state manager on my resume deficits, received the settlement check from my last job, and lined up two possible internships. I think. Read the full update.

June 25, 2011

In the past month I’ve had two interviews, started a 16-week job-search workshop series, went to another two-day job-search workshop, dropped out of my job group, looked for an internship, and made progress on my backup plans. Read the full update.

May 15, 2011

As I anticipated, I did not get any of the three jobs I interviewed for in April, most likely for the reasons I described in April’s update. I heard from the second job just last week, after a month of waiting, and I haven’t heard from the third job at all yet – but neither have my references.

That wouldn’t be so bad if I had gotten even one more interview since then, or if there were more jobs out there in my field, although I have been applying for jobs that are less of a fit with my skills. But I didn’t, and there aren’t. And so, according to the numbers game, I need to rethink my strategy.

That’s what I’m doing now.

Responding to the constant refrain in the air, “Network! Network! Network!” I am on the lookout for ways to do so. Several people at my job group like to go to trade shows, believing it’s useful and productive to “network” with the company reps at the vendor tables. I don’t think that’s such a great place to network, though, unless you’re in sales, because all of those vendor reps are salespeople, not HR people.

But it reminded me that joining a trade association is sometimes a good way to network. Unfortunately, they are often expensive – up to $200 a year – and you really need to volunteer, or no one will get to know you. Even so, I am now looking into different trade associations related to editing, writing, publishing, and/or design. I will also have to wait until my appeal settlement is finalized before I can afford such a luxury.

I’m also looking more seriously at my various backup plans. Everyone who’s over 50 and “between jobs” right now needs a backup plan.

Meanwhile, three members of my job group were hired recently for well-paying, benefitted jobs in their fields, albeit in new industries. All were relieved (of course) and grateful, and seemed to feel that their efforts and perseverance had paid off, which they did – for them. One had been hired while in an unpaid internship in her new industry, and unpaid internships have helped me in the past. Another had been hired seemingly by chance, certainly by luck, in part because the company apparently used a creative strategy of its own, to avoid being inundated by resumes. I don’t know how the third got the job.

All had been out of work for one to four years. I don’t know how they managed to survive for that long, but I think I’d be homeless if I didn’t have a job for four years. I’d be homeless pretty quickly if I didn’t have unemployment insurance now.

I am happy for them, and their stories give me hope that I too will get a good job within a year of my own job loss – that is, within seven months from now, since I’m in my fifth month of joblessness.

But I suspect I know better. All three of my colleagues had long-established careers in fields they didn’t change; they merely changed industries. All three fit well in corporate arenas. I don’t have a nice career trajectory; my resume is filled with potholes and detours. Although I am returning to a former career, the effect is the same: at this moment, I am changing both my field and my industry. As a career advisor once told me, it’s almost impossible to make that leap in one jump. And I do not fit well in corporate environments. Not at all.

I know I don’t have four years. I think I have closer to one year, and if I don’t have a job by then, I’d better have a replacement – that backup plan – in the wings, ready to go.

April 2011

(Summarizing key events to date.)

On December 23, 2010, I  became unemployed. There was no misconduct – I did a good job – but I wasn’t a good match with the organization’s culture.

In late January, after a phone interview about why I left and the circumstances, I was awarded Unemployment Insurance. It has allowed me time to focus on the search for a professional job instead of scrambling to pay my rent each month. I have also decided to return to my former career as an editor and writer, even though my first love, publishing, does not really exist where I live now.

In March, I finally joined the S. Professional Network (SPN). I had resisted joining a job-networking group for a long time, but I found it helpful immediately, if only for moral support. The group functions pretty well, especially considering the turnover in its ranks as people get jobs, and considering it is completely self-funded with no membership dues.

My appeal of my job loss was settled in my favor in early April.

Also in April, I had my first three job interviews. As of today, I have heard from the first that I was not selected, I think because I didn’t have a good answer for why I left my last position. Before the second interview, I sought out a practice interview from SPN’s Interview Committee, which helped me develop a good answer. I’ll hear from the second job next week, but I have a hunch that the hiring manager is leaning toward the inside candidate. I won’t hear about the third job – which could go either way – for two or three weeks, since the hiring manager is out of the office all next week.

I reminded myself that it took a dozen interviews to get my last two jobs, so I’m not too worried – yet – even if the other two don’t work out. Right now I am a bit behind on my job applications, though. If it takes a dozen interviews to get a job, that means I need to submit at least one targeted application a day, if possible. Out of a dozen or more applications, I might get one interview.

That’s the way I look at it, as a numbers game.

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