The road through unemployment is rarely a straight line
I am hoping that my story will keep some other “laid off” person ENCOURAGED. Although it took 2 years to find another job after being “laid off” – I never stopped looking.
At age 50, I lost my job working in a school for juvenile delinquents. While I was relieved, as it was not a job I enjoyed or planned on doing for a long time ? being laid off was both a blessing and a challenge.
This was my second time being laid off and this time I was prepared with savings which supplemented my unemployment benefits.
For the first few months, I enjoyed my blessing and really did not start to look for a job even though it was required in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits. I did the minimum of 2 job searches each week on two different days of each week. But deep down, I was hoping no one would call me for an interview and that is exactly what happened.
The emotional impact of a job loss
Although I knew I needed to find another source of income before my savings and unemployment ran out, mentally I was still not ready to do the interviewing routine. I had read several articles throughout the years and one thing each article stated ?you have to sell yourself? in each interview. We had to forget the past and focus on the present.
It was not until I had been jobless for about one year did I seriously start job hunting and really making an effort to follow up on job leads. From June 2008 to December 2009, I depended solely on my savings on unemployment.
In January 2010, I participated in a Stimulus Program called the Re-Employment Connection. I found out about this program through word of mouth. It was like they did not advertise this program although President Obama had put it in place for the unemployed. This particular program was for 12 weeks and you were paid $12 an hour for 40 hours a week. You had to attend an interview after submitting your online application. Ideally this process was supposed to work as follows:
1. You submit your online application
2. They call you to schedule an interview
3. If they approve you ? next step is the group meeting in which you were told the rules
4. You then attended a ?job fair? ? there were no guarantees that they would hire you
In my case, number one never happened. I had to keep calling the number I had located on their website, leaving several voicemails and finally getting a human on the line. I did get assigned to a company that did not give me any breaks and I ended up quitting which cancelled my remaining unemployment benefits of $1,499. I appealed and lost. This was when I had to rely solely on my dwindling savings which ran out in May 2010.
Hard choices when the money runs out
From May 2010 to July 2010 I was without any funds and had to rely on first my boyfriend for a place to stay and then my grown daughter. It was a very ?shameful? situation to be in but it made me more determined to regain my ?independence and pride??..
It took 3 weeks once I finally made up my mind to figure out a way around the fact that I am 52 now and obsolete. The last office software I had used in 2008 was Microsoft 2003 ? now it was all about Microsoft 2007 with only a few organizations still using Microsoft 2003.
I went ahead and made myself complete all the FREE Microsoft classes the public library was offering keeping in mind that book knowledge alone would not convince a future employer of my knowledge. They wanted ?working? knowledge and the trick now was to use this newfound knowledge. This was when I thought of developing a ?flyer? stating my situation and that I was willing to work for anything ? even mentioned in exchange for a Tracfone Top Up card to add minutes to a prepaid phone. I was without the means to keep adding to my cell phone and knew that I needed to be available for possible job interviews and offers.
While I was staying with my boyfriend for two months, not having a car really prevented me from setting up job interviews due to a non-existent public transportation system where I live. I would walk to the public library every day (they were open 7 days a week) to use their computers and tried to find something within walking distance. The few city buses they had did not run on the weekend and stopped running at 4pm during the week. Now I understood why there was so much poverty in the area, folks could not get around.
Success…and what it took to make it happen
I knew I had to get back to Orlando, Florida, in spite of not wanting to do this and ended up staying with my adult daughter and her roommate. This was a very ?traumatic? arrangement and one I am still in but know I will be back home in Alabama soon.
My daughter was working at the local university and in spite of me putting in 22 online applications, nothing happened.
For 3 weeks I sat down every day and emailed out my ?flyer? to the university staff after locating their online email listing. A professor sent me an email asking me to come in and interview. I did and got the job.
I am still not out of the woods as yet. It is temporary, 35 hours, started at 15 hours then got increased to 25 and just this week to 35. She is paying me out of 3 research grants that she has. Grants come and go and I keep this in the back of my mind so that I do not go back to the ?comfort zone? and not continue to work on getting a job back home in Alabama.
My advice to the unemployed:
- Look around you to see what is needed
- Evaluate your skills to see if you can fill the need or obtain the necessary skills
- Approach the organization or person you want to work for
- Offer to work for “free” so that they can “evaluate” your skills
- And keep looking – always have a plan just in case you get “laid off” again 🙂
Are you unemployed? What are you doing to find work? What are you doing to make ends meet? What works–what doesn’t?