Chicago, Illinois, US
October 15
I enjoy riding my bike around Chicago in my free time, perusing art and gardens, enjoying good beer, and musing on the wackiness of life.


JULY 9, 2010 6:17PM

one year later

Rate: 9 Flag

It's been over a year now since I was laid off from my last job.  I took a short breather before I started looking, but soon discovered how depressing the job market really is for most of us in today's economy.  So many companies are looking for employees who are cheap to hire (either entry level or desperate).  Few seem to value the difference that the combination of solid experience and skills can bring to the bottom line.

I've been working since high school and never had trouble finding a job until now.  Even finding temp work has been difficult, as most businesses seem to prefer putting as much work as possible on their regular employees, pushing them to the breaking point, knowing that they're not likely to complain or leave. 

My first unemployment extension ran out recently.  Over the past year, I didn't earn enough at temp work, so they consider me ineligible for another regular  extension.  I'm still within the window of time where I could apply for a state emergency extension, but I'm not sure that the requirements are worth it.  They require at least five employer contacts each week on at least three separate dates during the week.  They also want a log of those work search attempts mailed or faxed to them before each certification date.  If I'm offered a job, any job (even if it's crap), I have to take it, or benefits will be gone.

There aren't that many suitable job ads out there that fit my work history (office manager and similar positions).  In the year that I've been looking, it's been rare to find more than 2 suitable new ads in one week, no matter how many days I look.  I could run all week on that hamster wheel and have nothing to show for it but a week of wasted time.

At times, I apply for one and actually get hopeful about my application, but the ad stays out there for weeks and weeks.  No response.  I don't know what they're looking for, but I wish they'd hire someone already.

One friend who used to work in collections - yes, collections - was laid off almost 2 years ago.  A few months ago, I heard that he'd gotten a job - at Wal Mart. 

I'm grateful that we have another good income in our household and that I still have money in the bank.  I don't really miss going to the office.  Between taking an online class, doing volunteer work, and working on other projects, I'm keeping busy enough. The certificate program I'm currently in seems likely to open up more opportunities than spending every day week after week looking for jobs that just aren't there.

The thing that hurts the most is the feeling of rejection.  I have good skills.  I've proven again and again in past jobs that I can anticipate needs, solve problems and make an office more efficient and productive.  The idea that nobody wants me hurts much more than the loss of income.

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This economy is not only bad on the wallet, it's bad on your self esteem. I remember when everything was unionized, and the unions took care of their people, Now you're a socialist if you even mention union. Big Business has got us by the throat, and they ain't letting up. Good luck!
I so hear you on this. I'd stop working for others entirely if I still had the wherewithal to start a business and work for me (great boss you have there), but economically in this market it's a risk I'm not taking. Like you, I have to brace myself for rejection by the masses in the hope of getting the acceptance of the ONE person who knows I can not only do the job, but elevate it. It is a bitch having to apply for positions you don't want, and pray no one offers you, in order to meet the requirements for continued UEI benefits. How bad is it to go to bed with one thought on your mind...'please don't offer me that sucky job! Ive got so much more to give than that would ever require of me!!'
I sure understand your frustration. My husband was out of work for 15 months. Eventhough he had tons of experience in his field, and was a creative, prolific and productive worker, he experienced the kind of bush league rejection (no manners) that one would not expect from so-called professional organizations. It sucks. It's demoralizing. It has nothing to do with you (the candidate).

Good news is he did land an awesome job - perfect fit for his personality although it pays 60 percent of the old one. There are health benefits, he loves it, and it is at a non-profit. Have you tried checking out and Linked-In? I apologize if you are aware of these already -- except used together, these helped him land the job. I'm doubly grateful now, as our COBRA was running out and I've just been diagnosed with a scary illness....I just wish we could have more than a few months of peace....but I'm not writing about me.

Anyway, I also work for a non-profit and find it gratifying eventhough it is not enriching in a monetary sense. I'm finding I've learned a lot that I can leverage at the next job.....

Good luck...I truly feel your frustration and hope to be back on my bike soon!
Yeah, it's that want ad that stays posted for weeks after you applied and got no response. Your skills match their needs, but nothing coming from their end.
Scanner - This economy is terrible for so many people in countless ways.

Abby - The idea of a start-up (either for-profit or non-profit) has occurred to me more than once. I keep mulling over ideas to find one or more that could be launched in the near future and actually have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Not quite there yet, but the longer I'm out here at the mercy of heartless corporate America, the less I want to go back there.
Nelly - I've been checking out, and LinkedIn for a while now. I'm finding more jobs that I might actually want on the non-profit side, hence my classes in a Non-Profit Management program. Glad to hear that your husband found a job that he loves. That's worth a LOT more than a bigger salary, if what he earns is enough to live on. My COBRA will run out in a few months, so I need to start getting insurance quotes. Glad you got insurance to help with your situation. I hope that you can get healthy and back on the bike soon.
Stim - Are you experiencing a bit of the same thing?

Mabel - My significant other, a Chicago cop with 11 years on the job, is in a similar situation to your husband. Continued craziness in the city = job security for him.
Abby - One of the worst parts of the unemployment game is having to apply for crap jobs when there's nothing else around, just to satisfy the system. I really hope you can find the RIGHT job soon.
:( That happened to my father after he retired from the army. It's soul crushing. I hope you keep volunteering, it helped him.
Yes, the effort of going through the state's emergency unemployment is well worth it. Anything that helps you pay your bills and keeps the wolf from the door is worth it. I've been unemployed for nearly two years now, and here's the thing that keeps me going... one good interview means that a new job is only a few weeks away. Seriously.

I used to work with someone who pointed out that if you're having a good day, you think life is wonderful. If you're having a bad day, you think life sucks. In the end, it's just a day. I always kept that thought with me. It helps to get through the down time. I hear you, there is a lot of down time.

Good luck. Let us know how you're doing.
hyblaean-Julie - Sorry to hear that about your dad. Volunteering can really make a difference.

Kris - I think your co-worker had the right attitude. I try to use a similar approach to keep myself on track.

Hopefully you can find something soon. We cut back on spending after I got laid off, and we have little ongoing debt other than the mortgage. What my S.O. makes pretty much covers the fixed expenses. With the cushion in the bank (thank you, Dad, for being frugal and leaving me a much bigger nest egg than I ever expected), I feel like I may be better off reducing expenses a bit more and not spending a big chunk of my time jumping through hoops to get the emergency unemployment extension. I'm afraid that if I go down that road, it could suck me so dry that depression would be the only result.

The volunteer work that I'm doing keeps my foot in the door at three organizations, any one of which I wouldn't mind working for if the right opening should arise. It's also gotten me the best temp gig I've had since I started looking. Also, since my volunteer commitment to one of the organizations is BIG, I get invited to some special events where there's an opportunity to network with VIP board members, some of whom have serious connections.
Here's a tune for those of you who are working but just getting by - and I know there are a LOT of people in that boat.
What if we went on strike? I've been on strike for a long time. Big business needs to be given a wake up call that it is time to skew things back toward the labor side of things or forget us spending any money on their products.
Xe - Consumer strike? for thought. But I wonder if they'd get the message, as so many have had to cut back on spending already since they're making less. It would take some effort to get people to deliver that message in a way that businesses will hear.
And another thing! It is frustrating to see those stale, old jobs that you applied for, sitting on the boards month after month. I don't know why orgs do that. Are they waiting for a PhD candidate to man the phones? Mother Theresa to do the filing? Is it that they are too lazy to remove the ad? Not sure if they have the funding and fishing around to see who is in the pool "just in case?" Hrumph.
Nelly - That has become a BIG pet peeve of mine.
The other day I got a message on my answering machine from a recruiter who said he'd found my resume on Got my hopes up - for a moment. When I heard the rest of the message, all I could say was "you gotta be f*#$in' kidding me!" He was talking about a long-term contract position at a major corporation - in North Chicago.

Even when I lived on the far north side, that would have been a tough commute. From where I live now, it would be about 2 hours by public transit or car. *sigh*
I've been there, and it's so damn hard not to take it personally! Hang in there, man. We're pulling for you!
Thanks, Owl. Yeah, it is tough at times not to take it personally. Meanwhile, here's a little bit of encouraging news.