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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.