|Message to the White House last fall, on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building.|
(photo by me, via cellphone)
This month, I marked the two-year anniversary of being out of work.
As the date approached, though, I felt things finally were looking up. I had three hot prospects on the line: one, an employer with whom I had already had a face-to-face interview (and had moved on to the "critique our product" stage), and two others, with whom I was due to interview in a matter of days.
So I had no reason to sulk. Instead, I looked back on the two years and crunched some numbers:
- I counted 73 cover letters on my computer written over the 730 days in those two years, meaning I averaged one cover letter every 10 days -- which is miraculous, given that I dread writing cover letters. (And "averaged" really is a key word, since earlier this year I'm pretty sure I came close to becoming a discouraged worker as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics: pulling the covers over my head and giving up. On the other hand, I subsequently entered a phase of extended unemployment benefits, now ended, during which I had to prove to state labor officials that I met a weekly quota of job inquiries -- meaning that my pace of cover-letter writing surpassed the average.)
- Over the two years, I landed 10 interviews: two in late 2009 (plus a "howdy" face-to-face before the employer was ready to interview for a new position), four in 2010 and four so far this year. None, though, has yielded a job.
- I also had 3 preliminary phone conversations that led nowhere, one in which I was told a candidate was already in hand, but they wanted to talk to me anyway (to reinforce that decision, I suppose), and one in which the employer, who had asked applicants to specify salary, wanted to see whether I'd bite at a lower figure. (I couldn't afford to relocate for the stated salary, and didn't relish a commute of up to three hours a day.) The third was with an employer I quickly determined I didn't want to work for.
- There also was 1 prospective employer that conducted an extensive conference call with me and then had me critique/edit some stories and send along copies of a feature I had created at one job, which had piqued their interest -- and then stopped answering my emails and phone calls. 1 other prospect had me do a trio of tests, two of which I passed with flying colors. I apparently stumbled on the third and was told I could try again in six months. (Huh? The logic of that escaped me.)
We know now that the 2007-09 Great Recession was more severe than first thought, which provides a tiny bit of solace as I approach 25 months without a full-time job. But writing about it, and living it, really hasn't gotten any easier.