Wednesday, July 7, 2010

10 things I've learned in the land called jobless

So here I am, today marking the one-year anniversary of my layoff, still without a full-time job. (There was no cake or ice cream, though, to mark the occasion.)

(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?

  1. That the worse thing I can be right now is unemployed and looking for a job. Employers prefer hiring people who already have jobs.
  2. That I have too much experience, meaning that at first pass I look too expensive. Post-recession, employers are going with cheaper hires.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. That somebody should do a reality show on journalism. It might provide a newsroom with a new (and novel) revenue stream.
  8. 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?
  9. That if all else fails, I could become a private investigator, since the skills for PI and journalist are similar.
  10. That the economics of journalism still stinks.
UPDATE: Congress finally passed and the president signed legislation extending for another six  months unemployment benefits for those who had been cut off. W00t! I'm back on the dole.

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