Unemployed and Looking---A Happy Ending!

Being Unemployed is a Full Time Job

Unless you live under a rock or have a solid job which keeps you insulated and joyfully oblivious to the current job market, let me clue you in: things are tough out there. I mean really tough for those of us unemployed.

I do have a job, of sorts. Let me clarify. I am working but I don't get a paycheck, benefits or paid vacations. I am a small business owner. I bought into the American dream of owning a business. I guess I always knew it would be hard work with little reward in the beginning and failure is high, but like anyone whose ever gone down that road, you hope and pray your experience will be different. After all, you are smarter than most at least that is what your mom told you. It must be true.

A few years ago my husband and I started dreaming of having a better life. We had burned out on working for corporate America. There were so many reasons: The long commute to work each day (an hour and a half each way, 96 miles round trip), dumb-ass bosses, corporate "busy work" void of any real meaning. It all took its tole on us. Inside our jail cell cubicles we would dream. Dream of a place where we made the rules, where we could be free to set the tone of our business. We searched and searched to find such a place and landed on owning and operating our own ice cream franchise. It all seemed, in theory, to be so easy!

Fast forward 4 years. We own a franchise. In fact at one point we owned two. That adventure is to be told in another hubpages blog, but suffice it to say, the reality is we did not become our own bosses. When you are a small business, everyone elseis your boss, be it the city, the landlord, the health department. And in our case, as a franchisee, we still deal with corporate talking heads who spout all sorts of "rules" and "procedures" which are nothing more than self-designed "busy work" to keep the franchisor's employees employed.

The Recession hit, sales dropped off and now, paying minor bills like gas or electric seem impossible. The dream has turned into a nightmare.

We find ourselves longing for the days of employee-hood, where benefits are paid, vacation time is looked forward to and if something gets screwed up, it's someone else's job to fix but you still get paid.

Problem is in the four years we have been self-employed the job market has changed. The recession has hit and unemployment is at an all time high.

I started looking seriously for a job back in March, 2009 it is now April, 2010 and no job. There is not much out there and what is available means you are competing with hundreds if not thousands of applicants with more up to date skills, are more computer savvy and well.... younger which in our "young is better" culture translates to smarter,more productive, higher achiever, though not really based in any truth.

The odds look pretty grim but buying into that line of defeat makes me destine to fail. I have to believe that I can, and therefor, I will.

Because of the high unemployment rate and lack of companies doing business anymore, I am no longer able to limit my job search to just the industry I came from before self-employment, so I have broaden my search to other industries. I took a critical review of my skills. What I found was some of the things I know can be applied to a totally different industry;and hopefully, to one with stability and growth.

Coming to terms with the fact I may not get the salary I once received was a blow to my ego. I had attained a level of income that along with my husband's allowed us to lead a very nice lifestyle. I realize that now. I knew it then but did not really appreciate it. Took it for granted. I had to look at other things that have value and might be offered, like medical insurance, flexible accounts, 40lk matching contributions. These benefits, in these times of cutting perks, are worth lots. So I may accept less than my old salary but with benefits, it might come close to the old pay.

In reviewing my resume, I found that I needed to split it into two. One would be the technical skills I have, the professional designations and college course work completed. That resume would be used whenever I found a job, like my old one, that I wanted to apply for.

My second resume is one that I have played down my experience, I don't list my college or professional designations. I do play up my computer skills, customer service and organizational abilities.

Both resumes are constantly tweaked to fit a certain job. I will add or delete information so that the resume fits the job description as much as possible.

I spend hours everyday searching various job sites: monster.com, indeed.com, hotjobs and even craigslist. I know the latter gets bad PR as being a scammer's haven but I have actually gotten two interviews from jobs posted on craigslist, so maybe it's not such a bad place?

When not researching job openings and sending my resume, I network with other unemployed people on various job boards. My favorite board is on indeed.com the "Unemployed for 1 year" forum. I have made many friends, misery loves company as they say. I have learned it is not easy for any of us to be unemployed. The 40 and 50 year old crowd think 20somethings have it "so easy" while the 20somethings think "old people get all the breaks because they have experience". It is sad to know that nationwide many people are suffering and all we seem to get is the runaround from the Employment Development Department in every state.

The media and Obama Administration like to say "the recession is behind us" but those of us on the front lines of unemployment beg to differ. It is true things are slowly picking up. My husband landed a choice temp. job and that has been a godsend but so many others are struggling.

My experience with being self-employed has helped me acquire new skills of marketing myself by using social media like facebook and twitter. It is amazing the amount of people you can reach out to.

Being unemployed and looking is a full-time job. I network, I sell myself, I type and retype my resume. I perform internet research on prospective employers, learn all I can about their corporate environment. Hours upon hours.

When it comes time for an interview (as it did last week) I was asked "what have you been doing with all your spare time?" Obviously the interviewer is the one with the "solid job" as mentioned in the beginning of this story. I really wished I could have answered him honestly without sounding annoyed with a "geesh I have been looking for work for 8 hours a day, every week, every month for the last year!" Employers should not underestimate the time, ability and talent it takes to get to the point of just getting an interview. It should count for something on the part of the job seeker, like their motivation, determination maybe?

We will all get through this eventually but I hope we can hold on. As I write this my phone rang-twice. Two interviews for next week. Wish me luck!

UPDATE: I have had more interviews since writing this only a few weeks ago! Follow ups for drug screening and background checks. Pretty sure one of these will lead to a full time job, hopefully back to my old income or better. Slowly the economy and job market are adjusting upward, at least that's the way it appears today.

For all of you unemployed and looking: keep moving forward. It is ego deflating at times, I know, but you have to move forward. Doing nothing only gets you nothing.

UPDATE: September, 2010 (Los Angeles) When I wrote this hub I was at my lowest low. I could not imagine finding a job, it seemed like a hopeless proposition but the will to survive is great and being a type A personality, I could not sit and wait. I could not do nothing. I became creative.

One day I had two interviews. Both jobs offered things I wanted, like the ability to work from home, flexibility, benefits, great pay. One job I really, really wanted because it offered stability but the manager seemed to be sitting on the fence about me. Suddenly during the interview I thought what about a trial period? I said to him "Look if you are at all apprehensive about me, why don't you give me a temporary trial period, you don't even need to pay me" There was a spark in his eye, a sudden "ah ha" and he said "why didn't I think of that??" Of course he would not let me work for free but he most assuredly liked the "temporary to permanent idea" and by directly working with me and not through an agency, he didn't have to pay any fees and could pay me more hourly.

Three months ago I started working. I invoiced the company weekly and was paid promptly. Yesterday I was told by management they would like to make our arrangement "permanent" starting this Monday I am staff with all the benefits and perks--like paid Holidays.

My advice to anyone struggling (and there are millions still finding it hard) is this: be positive regardless of how dismal life appears. Be creative. Sell yourself. Think of all you have done in the past, on jobs, volunteering, whatever...play it up and learn all you can. Life can change for the better in just days.

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Comments 26 comments

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

I certainly hope one of the two phone calls you received leads to a job for you. My husband is in construction, and even though he is part of a Union, they have been suffering since 2006. Right now the list of laid off workers is higher than it has ever been. It is difficult to survive on unemployment, as it seems like just enough to starve on, but we have learned to do so and find we can comfort our friends who began getting laid off this past year or so. Hang in there, seems to me you are doing a great job on coping with the situation.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

good luck with your interviews- i like the idea re two resume . I have recently semi retired from a government job and am too over qualified/experienced for the low key roles that i want to do- so I may try it


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

It's amazing how survival instincts kick in when you need them. I am blessed that I did not come from money, just simple working class people. Because of my early experiences, I have learned the skill of negotiating. It's important. I can get to the meat of the matter. What do you need to survive? Housing, food, warmth. Nothing else matters. I have learned you can hold off creditors longer than you think and when push comes to shove, you can negotiate a better deal. It takes a lot of energy and sometimes I don't have it. But, you just pick yourself up and try again and again.


shayari profile image

shayari 6 years ago from Austin, TX

Very well written! Unemployment is bad, but it is sometimes a blessing in disguise. I know people who completely changed their career when they were struck by unemployment. There will be lot of anxiety and frustration when you don't have a job, but that makes you stronger and makes you more appreciative of good things in life.


FGual profile image

FGual 6 years ago from USA

Good information here. Maybe the answer is self-employment, even if entirely different from your previous business. Even if you find a job, that's no guarantee it will last. Try to start an online business of some kind. Being home based, your expenses are a lot lower.


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

FGual, I would love to find a home based business and actually earn a living! Any ideas!


nick9075 6 years ago

Unemployment is never a blessing in disguise unless you come from a well off family that will support you in the lifestyle you 'deserve' to be supported in.

Not everyone has the $100,000 + to 'change their careers' by getting a 2nd, 3rd or whatever degree or $20,000 to prepay a lease so they can move to a cheaper apartment -- after all landlords never rent to unemployed people.

Try going to many interviews and being treated in a very rude & patronizing manner and not getting hired because you have been unemployed 'too long' which is considered a month these days


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

Nick9075,

So true!

And, don't forget that alot of employers run credit checks and disqualify you if you fico is low or you have too much debt...well DUH I've been living off credit cards!


Candice 6 years ago

Now in addition to hours a day spent on job searching, filling out on-line applications, & tweaking resumes & cover letters I find solace in reading & posting on these unemployment blogs. Yes, not only does misery love company, it's fun to vent with others that understand our predicaments. Employed friends just don't seem to comprehend how difficult and time consuming our situations have become. Interviewing, as few and far between they arise, has become nerve wracking - always second guessing responses and each subsequent rejection is a blow to self confidence.

I've expanded my job search (previously looking for those employee benefits as well) to include part time employment that I think may grow to full time but like you, in my 50's, educated with years of experience and credentials, it is difficult to convince employers of sincere interest when overqualified.

I'm generally sarcastic anyway and would love to give employers snappy comebacks to their inane questions in their interviews... in fact, I had major negative attitude in a temp agency interview because the interviewer was so rude and condescending. Some of those favorite inane questions are:

*why do you want to work for us? (duh, I want and need income!)

*what is your required salary? (the most you're willing to pay me!)

*why do you want to work part-time? (because, at this point I'll take any job!)

*you're overqualified for the position, why should we consider you? (because I can do this job with my eyes closed and you'd get your money's worth!)

Best wishes to all of you fellow unemployed... happy blogging


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

Candice, LOL, I am also a person of sarcastic humor. In one interview, the employer asked me what my "ideal" work environment would be, Ha ha ha ha. Had to bite my tongue because I never shy away from stating what I want, need or demand. Yes sir, I'd like happy hour to start at noon. Fridays off with full pay, a relaxed work schedule, one in the "ish" category as in: start work around 9ish or 10ish depending on my mood and energy level.

It get so frustrating and annoying being asked stupid questions. Really don't you think employers should change up their question a little to fit the candidates age, experience and education level. Asking a person in their 50s where they'd like to be in 5 years is really, really lame!


Candice 6 years ago

Or a better response to the "why do you want to work for us?" question...

I don't you moron, I don't want to work for you or anyone else, but how else can I put food on the table & a roof over my head.

Like you, "Askme", I too have had my fill of corporate, cubicle life and inadequate bosses and desperately need a change but how do we convince potential employers that this doesn't mean we lack motivation or work ethics? Actually, I had to leave my last position (or whistle blow - which i didn't want to have to deal with) because of the lack of integrity and compliance of my direct executive report. It was quite comforting to discover that she no longer is employed either due to "a disagreement w/management" !!


elisata profile image

elisata 6 years ago from Netherlands

Askme, I you have been working as an independent franchiser, why not continue that, instead of a "stupid" job some place...? There are so many possibilities nowadays to work from home in positions that really bring you money in your pocket! If you get sick and tired of hunting for a job you don't really want, I'd go for that, if I were you... I am 58 and work with 2 homebased jobs, totally out of my former experience, but I like it really well and I am my own boss!


Candice 6 years ago

Elisata,

Interesting... are your homebased jobs lucrative? If you don't mind me asking, how did you get into them? Are you making enough to pay for healthcare and put $$$ aside for retirement - or are you planning to continue working?

I no longer want to pursue jobs opportunities in my former experience and am looking to find something more fulfilling and rewarding... just don't want to be a working-class slob clocking in 50-60 hrs/wk to compete with the other slobs fearful of getting a pink slip.... thanks


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

Yes Elisata, please tell us. Having been self-employed these last few years, I can tell you I am going bankrupt paying for health insurance ( $800 a month, then switched to Athem Blue Cross for $556 they pay NOTHING!), payroll taxes, and in california self-employed taxes of $800 every year and if you are legit, a business lic (must have for anyone in LA county $600 a year depending on the city).

Please enlighten us


elisata profile image

elisata 6 years ago from Netherlands

To Candice and Askme:

I just started in the home based jobs I like very much after a number of failures that only cost me money, instead of earning me some!

I work as a FREE franchiser for the KB Gold Group which helps ordinary people like you and me to protect their savings by changing some of it in physical gold - very small quantities, don't think gold bars or anything. I have recently written a few Hubs on that. I cannot post a explanatory website here, but just go to my profile and you will see more... on the business #2 as well!

The other home based business cost me almost $400 to get into, but the perspective is great... There also I just started, so I honestly cannot tell you if this is going to be lucrative or not. To be on the safe side, I personally think that the gold "thing" is more easily to do than the computer business... And it has a great payplan! Besides the income tax for this business is so much more friendly since you work with subfranchisers and in Europes you don't have to pay income tax om the override commissions you get from that. I don't know how that is in other countries, sorry :-(

To add to myself - which is not in my profile: I have been a journalist for all my life. Only the last 3 years I am at home on a health pension and try to make some extra money to supplement that. So working as a gold franchiser or a computer service affiliate is really a totally new world to me. But... I like it!! Want more info? Send me a message!!!


candice 6 years ago

elisata, sounds like healthcare isn't an issue for you and you're just making some extra bucks to supplement your pension... that's nice but really doesn't work for us 50 year olds that still need benefits and additional retirement funding...


elisata profile image

elisata 6 years ago from Netherlands

Candice, I am in the early stages of - for instance - the "gold thing". I know some collegues close by who make nearly $10,000 a month.... just after this took a real launch. So I am in the beginning stage... but they really took off like a rocket!!!


candice 6 years ago

Hmmmm, elisata, looks like you're just trying to make a sale here (by getting other franchisers) so you can reap the commissions benefits... better start looking elsewhere...


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

Yep sorry elisata. don't like to discount any ideas for employment but seriously after having my own business and carrying that weight for a few years, I am ready to go back to being an employee. It's not that my business didn't work or wasnt' successful, it's just the burden of starting over every month to meet the expenses. It's so draining. Yes you may get lucky one month and have huge sales, the next barely scrape by.


TheBlandMan profile image

TheBlandMan 6 years ago from Eliot, ME

Askme, take a look at my Hub if you are still unemployed. it's the most amazing thing that just feel into my lap. I am new here so it's not well polished but you should get the picture. I would love if you would email me or give me a call if you think you like the job.


elisata profile image

elisata 6 years ago from Netherlands

To Candice and Askme,

Sorry to read that you misunderstand my comments... but hey, if that's how you take it, that's you! I cannot tell you how to interpret my comments! I just hope you get on well with any job you are accepting whitin your range of interest!


Askme profile image

Askme 6 years ago Author

Well elisata, there's an old saying "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." I've lived long enough to learn: if something sounds too good to be true, it is and if someone is making a bundle of $$ doing something, human nature is they don't want competition and probably would not be so willing to share.


Candice 6 years ago

Yup, I agree with Askme, sorry elisata. But if you have some legitimate recommendations to securing gainful employment I'm all ears...


Candice 6 years ago

Guess not....


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

This is an extremely uplifting article for those who feel that they have been daunted searching for employment in this precarious economy. There are many companies who discriminate against those who are unemployed, especially those who are long-term unemployed.

I was on the internent and I read an article which stated that many companies prefer to hire people who already have jobs because they seem to be more stable and have a demonstrable work ethic, They consider unemployed people to be somewhat unstable and that there is something wrong with them because they do not have jobs. Totally unbelievable and illogic premise!

I am glad that you have found what you wanted and I wish you the best of luck. This hub is excellent and inspiring to those who believe that they have no hope. Voted up!


Askme profile image

Askme 4 years ago Author

You are sooo right about companies discriminating against the long-term unemployed. I have 3 friends going on 4 years of unemployment. Their prior employer sold to a larger company and they were downsized. No offer of employment with the new company, just let go. Some of them had been at the prior company 15 to 20 years. So much for loyalty.

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