Since April 1 of this year I have been out of a job. My pay for rent job, as I like to call it, laid my department off. Our division was dismantled because it was cheaper for automation to do our job, so the clients we had were outsourced to another company. I was pretty mad for the first week, but I was able to suppress some of my anger and got on with my life. The big thing I knew I had to do was look for a job.
The past few months I have sent out resumes, hit job fairs, did massive searches on craigslist and have done a lot of interviews trying to land a job. Like my parents told me long ago it can be work looking for work. If I had to list something I really dislike about job searching is the feeling of helplessness I get. It’s a combination of things that bring those anxiety feelings to the surface. Having to fill out forms every week and send those into the unemployment office makes me feel like I’m being watched. I wonder if some purchase I make is going to trigger some alarm someplace and halt the money coming in. On the flip side, I’m old fashioned and hate getting money for sitting on my ass doing nothing. The balance is I want to work but I don’t necessarily want to get any old job just to take myself off the unemployment roll.
That feeling ties into another side of unemployment I dislike. I’ve been on a lot of job interviews where what I was told over the phone or what I saw in an advertisement was different when I got there. An ad might say the pay is $15 per hour but in reality the pay is $8.50 and the fine print is you can make up to $15 with commissions. All of the lovely health care and other benefits listed are set for people working 40 hours a week, but the company schedules you for 32 or 37 hours. To get the 40 you have to work overtime but it isn’t really overtime so you don’t get time and a half. Inbound help positions become outbound cold sales calls.
Someone like myself wants to tell them where they can stick their job but on the other hand once I had been on unemployment for a few months, I started to worry if I was every going to find a job. Unemployment lasts for six months and the last thing I want to do is come up to the last month and find myself desperate for any job.
Something I didn’t really think about until I lost my job was the realization that I’m old. I don’t mean foot in the grave old but at 51 I’m starting to understand there are companies unwilling to hire someone my age. They don’t come out and say it but it’s a feeling I get. They think I’m ready for social security, which I’m not. They think I’m just going to be there for a year and leave, which isn’t necessarily the case. What I found not only with companies but dealing with unemployment is there are slots they want to put people in out of convenience. It makes their job easier in assessing what can be done with a person but it ignores the uniqueness of the individual.
For instance, about a month into being unemployed I had to go to an unemployment center to get evaluated for job placement and other opportunities. Throughout the conversation I was asked about my veteran status, my wife and kids and a couple of other questions that in no way fit me. I had to correct the interviewer numerous time that I wasn’t married, had no children, lived alone, wasn’t a veteran, hadn’t been in jail and yes I had an education. I was left with the impression there was nothing that could be done for me.
July was the big body blow because I was out of town when I filled out my information about my employment search which triggered a possible fraud alert with the system. I had to wait a month before the situation was investigated and the funds were given to me. It was in that desperate time I went into training for a job that I knew from the beginning wasn’t right for me. At every turn there were changes to agreement I thought we had. Some of the procedures set up, such as payments and benefit schedules, didn’t seem fair to me. In fact, after I studied the information closer I realized it wasn’t, but I plugged on because with the scare of what unemployment did to me fresh in my mind, I was desperate to make sure I had money coming in. Ultimately it turned out to be a bad fit.
Right now I’m in an uncomfortable position because I might be on another unemployment watch list because I did earn money from that training. I reported it, as I was supposed to, but I got the dreaded warning message when I finished my filing on Sunday. Hopefully when I apply for the allowance this coming Sunday it will be authorized but being honest I can’t say I have much hope for that. I have my gut telling me there will be some dot I forgot to fill in which will result in another hold being issued, which means it can be up to a month before I see that money. It’s my doomsday thinking but I feel I have to keep my mind in that zone to make sure I’m not hit by any surprises.
I’m still job searching, hoping for the best, but a few things I’ve had to reevaluate. I really wanted to find something in the production industry. There have been a few possibilities, but most of the jobs I have applied for haven’t contacted me back or have plans contingent on other factors that can take months to resolve. A few of the tech jobs I’ve applied for have been like casting calls for a movie. Tons of call backs but no decisions yet. All I can do is keep my head up and forge forward.