Discouraged Job Seeker meets Under-Employed.
Discouraged job seekers. Now I know what that means. I thought I knew what that meant. But now I know what that means. At the outset of my divorce and subsequent unemployment status I looked for work in earnest.
I know how to look for work, right? I’ve been working since 1980. I’ve been between jobs many times over the years. I’m in my forties today. Using the internet to job hunt would save a lot of time and leg work, I imagined. Two months into job hunting, November and December 2011, went terrible. Forty targeted resumes and cover letters to employers. And nothing. Not a word. Not one positive response. Not one call back, let alone an interview.
Was I being too particular? Was I applying to the wrong jobs? Was I doing this right? I think so. I had applied to a previous employer with whom I had a good long-term relationship. Nothing from them. I applied to jobs I was qualified for, jobs I was over qualified for, and a few jobs I was under qualified for. I applied to full-time jobs, part-time jobs, seasonal jobs, and minimum wage jobs. I needed work and broadcasted myself across the spectrum. Nothing. In spite of humbling myself to jobs I never would have considered at my age, experience, and two Bachelor’s degrees, I got no replies.
Forty resumes and two months into this thing. What the hell? I knew the job market was terrible. The worst since the Great Depression. I knew the Bureau of Labor Statistics was lying about the real unemployment numbers, reporting 8.5%, but in reality the percentage was 18-24%. I knew I was up against a tough job market. And grieving the divorce made matters far worse emotionally. Still, I knew if I could find a job that kept me busy 8 hours of the day, it would in-part keep my mind off my immediate troubles. No help there.
Like I said, I’ve been “in-between” jobs many times over the years. And, I’ve never had to put out more than a dozen resumes to land a job. Not great jobs, but jobs none the less. The longest I recall ever being out of work over the years was 3 or 4 weeks. So, I was astounded after two months and 40 targeted resumes I didn’t get one positive response. Forty resumes!
Another month passed, and 20 more resumes out. At this point I was hitting a wall. And I took it as a sign I ought to enroll in the spring semester to further my education. A one-semester full-time certification course. I calculated I could afford the absence from job hunting, based on my recent job hunting success rate. I threw myself at the school semester while simultaneously working through the legal and emotional matters of the divorce. Yeah, emotionally it was a handful—about all I could handle. Panic attacks, threats of panic attacks. The works.
On the other side of the semester I got certified and was back to job hunting, adding now healthcare employers to my broadcast of resumes. By mid-summer 2012 I got my first interview. It was a phone interview with a large brokerage company. Fail. They said thanks but no thanks. By the end of summer I was up to, I think, 150 resumes. Another school semester? Fall semester? But this time I’ll have to keep putting out resumes while attending part-time school, risking the possibility a new job would preclude finishing a semester I’d paid for. And so I did.
I must note. I didn’t have the luxury of broadcasting 300 once-written resumes targeted to a single industry. No. I was applying to so many different kinds of employers across dozens of industries I had to rewrite each and every resume and cover letter. Figure an hour or two to find a decent fitting job on the internet. Then you have to create a “log-in” to their website. Then you have to complete the company’s resume, even if you have one to attach. Hope at this point the company’s website is working properly. It’s a two-hour process altogether for one resume, or worse. And yes, I tried other job hunting techniques. I have networked with friends, family, and work buddies. I went to a job fair. I reformatted my resume. I asked for help from a professional how to improve my resume and cover letter. I signed on with a couple temp agencies. I did the old-fashion footwork of dressing up, walking into more than a dozen businesses, spoke with the manager, shook hands, offer them my hardcopy resume, and ask for a job. Nothing. Under the circumstances on a whole, I think I’ve made a heroic effort keeping-on keeping-on.
Around resume #179, eleven full months after my “career” in unemployment, I got a job offer. Things get a bit complicated here. And yes, I had to quit my school semester mid-term in accepting the job. I had to. I got the job. Full-time. A job I wanted and needed. Not a great paying job, but it was great entry-level opportunity. As I said, this gets a bit complicated, but I had to resign that job after three weeks. My divorce had come to a legal and emotional climax at that time. I was a wreck. An absolute wreck. And the humiliation and regret that followed my resignation was off-the-chart bad.
I returned to job hunting immediately. More resumes out. More resumes out. Months are passing again. An interview here and there, but no luck. Around resume #235 in February I got hired for a part-time seasonal job at a local retailer cashiering. That’s where I’m at today, under-employed. Lost my car. Losing weekends with my son due to the work schedule. Cancelling monthly services to further reduce my expenses. And I’m working for a salary that virtually guarantees I lose my house. And what about when the work “season” ends, and my employment is no longer needed?
I’m still putting out resumes while working under-employed. At resume #250. I had a job interview this week for a great job permanent full-time with benefits and great salary. Gave a good interview, but I thought all my interviews went well.
I hope there is someone out there who can relate to my experience. This post is really a chronology of what happened. I hope to post upcoming articles describing the “feelings” I felt as I’ve trudged through this experience. And I know full well many good people have suffered far worse economic and personal loses than I have during this the Secret Great Depression.
I have much to be grateful: My son’s health and wellbeing, love of family and friends, my relationship with God, a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and my health. I am very grateful since finding part-time work to no longer suffer profound feelings of loneliness, boredom, and uselessness that naturally come from being home day after day writing and submitting yet another resume.