(You'll understand this musical interlude when you get to No. 3 below)
I have a regular freelance writing assignment, a weekly newspaper column for which I am grateful, because it lets me look an interviewer in the eye when he/she asks the dreaded "What are you doing now?" question. (Saying that you're "working" practically full-time trying to land a job doesn't cut it.)
I'm not as panic-stricken as I was a year ago about being jobless, although having reached the cutoff in my extended unemployment benefits -- and waiting to see whether Congress will let me collect more -- puts me in a funk.
I sent out a boatload of résumés and made other inquiries and contacts (and dutifully recorded them in my unemployment insurance handbook), but landed only four face-to-face interviews after a lot of begging and pleading. And none of them yielded a job offer.
So what have I learned in a year's time?
- That the worse thing I can be right now is unemployed and looking for a job. Employers prefer hiring people who already have jobs.
- That I have too much experience, meaning that at first pass I look too expensive. Post-recession, employers are going with cheaper hires.
- That I probably won't find a traditional 9-to-5 job (they're disappearing), so I'm going to have to hustle a bunch of separate gigs in the hopes of living the kind of life to which I've become accustomed -- i.e., that I have some spare change in the bank.
- That it's rare that your application to a company's website, or your résumé sent to HR, is acknowledged -- even if an opening was advertised and that's why you're corresponding.
- That it could take me years to get back to the salary I had been earning before my layoff. That seems to be a rule of thumb with you lose a job during a recession.
- That this recession is one for the record books in the number of unemployed workers, like me, who have been out of work for longer than six months.
- That somebody should do a reality show on journalism. It might provide a newsroom with a new (and novel) revenue stream.
- That I still sweat through cover letters, no matter how many I write. Can't I just say I'm the greatest hire you'll ever make?
- That if all else fails, I could become a private investigator, since the skills for PI and journalist are similar.
- That the economics of journalism still stinks.