I remember when one of the women in my book club was laid off. She continued to come to the book club when she could, and of course we would ask her how her job search was going. She wasn’t having any luck, and I can remember thinking that she couldn’t be looking that hard. I am so sorry for thinking that now. I realize that you can be doing everything possible, and you can still end up not getting a job.
A prolonged job search is really stressful. I’ve tried to remain positive all this time, but there are so many emotional ups and downs. I get a call from a recruiter about a job, and my mood soars. Five minutes later, I get an email rejection to another job, and my mood plummets. It wears on you.
As my job search has gone on and on, I have definitely gone through phases. In the first few months, I was searching for the perfect job. I wanted a position where I could add value, have a reasonable commute, and a decent salary. Honestly, money was the lowest on my list. I knew that I would have to take a pay cut, and I was ok with that.
When I hadn’t been able to land a job by the end of the year, I decided that I would open my search up to contract work as well – Phase 2. I decided to offer my project management services pro bono and do some volunteer work. I felt that the new year would bring a lot of new listings as companies planned their work for the year.
And I was right. By the end of February, I had applied for 25 new positions. I has also interviewed for four different contract jobs. I continued to get hits on my resume, and I leveraged every possible contact that I had to network and assist me.
I wasn’t discouraged. I was a little surprised. Maybe I was too optimistic when I thought that I’d be employed within six months of looking. I would sometimes have a moment of panic. “What if I can’t get a job?” But, I quickly talk myself back into positive territory – of course I was going to get a job! It’s just taking a little longer than I thought it would.
My severance package had come with three months of outplacement services. I had attended all the workshops, completed the suggested activities, and went to weekly check in meetings. It definitely helped me become a better candidate. One thing that you learn, and then you hear over and over, is that 70% of placements are the results of networking. I had been using my network, but since I had been at the same company for 22 years, most of my contacts were at my former company.
So, for my third stage, I decided that I needed to expand my network. I did a search on “employment networking” and found five different groups in the area. I attended my first group in April. I tried a couple of them only two or three times, settling in to one in Westford, one in Acton, and the one in Lowell which was every other week. These groups are great. They would have an activity or guest speaker, and I always learned something from each meeting. Unfortunately, they never led to a job.
By the end of June, just over 12 months since getting laid off, I had applied for 100 jobs. I had completed a bunch of phone screens, a half dozen in-person interviews, and even a second interview, but no offers. My severance package had run out in April, so I had applied for unemployment, which required me to attend mandatory meetings at the local office.
In August, I attended a job seeking networking meeting in Westford only to realize that I had already heard the speaker in Lowell. The next time attended the Lowell meeting, it was a speaker that I had seen in Westford. He was a great speaker, but it was discouraging to realize that I had looped through the speakers.
I applied for and received a grant for training. In September I took the first of four classes that would enhance my skills and help me be a more attractive candidate. I have completed three of the four classes. It hasn’t helped yet.
Time for Phase 4 – if it had a name, it would be called, “Desperation” I started to apply for jobs for which I was totally overqualified. I had decided that if I could not get a job in my profession, than I would be happy to have a job that I could do easily, but would at least provide me with an income. It’s funny, because I had several conversations with peers and recruiters about salary. There seems to be a concern about why someone would want to take such a cut in salary. Well, when you are making $0, it’s not a cut. I have applied for 150 jobs now, and I will continue.
I’ve tried to figure out why I can’t get a job. I know that I could say age discrimination. It’s definitely a factor, but I know that’s not the only thing. Maybe it’s salary. Certainly there would be assumptions about what I would want, but if I am applying for a position, wouldn’t you assume that I want it regardless of the pay? Part of it has been fit. I’ve been applying for positions in different industries, and with the same skill set, but requiring experience outside of what I have.
Phase 5 will be giving up. I have exhausted my unemployment benefits. I’ve done everything I can to get a job. I’ve remained positive and enthusiastic, but I don’t think that I can do it for much longer.
Now that I’ve lived through it, I know that you can be doing everything you can to land a job, and still not get one.
Thanks for letting me vent.