Things I learned while being unemployed/under-employed

1. Looking for work is a full-time job – I actually learned this after 9/11. The internet was just becoming an avenue for finding employment. I sent out resumes online and snail-mailed about 1500. It still took almost two years to find a job.

2. You MUST have family and friend  support – Being unemployed or under-employed is a lonely road if you are surrounded by people who have jobs or a career that are allows them to be successful and live fulfilling lives. But it can be depressing when those same people don’t seem to understand how hard you are trying. Having true family and friend support can make a world of difference. It helps you persevere and not lose faith. Being unemployed or under-employed can increase the risk of depression and suicide.

3. Having a degree can hurt more than help part 1 – I grew up being taught that getting an education will take me to the top. Not so. Along the journey, there will be people who are envious of your accomplishments and will actually hold your intelligence and education against you. It doesn’t matter that they too could have taken advantage of the same types of opportunities. However, they more than likely chose to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top and will use the same tactics to stay there. Meanwhile, the greater good of the company that employs you both is losing out because of office politics. I was once told by a manager that my peers felt they were being insulted because I used to many big words in my emails. They didn’t know what the words meant. Here’s a thought-dictionary.com! DO  NOT LET THESE KIND OF PEOPLE DETER YOU!

4. Having a degree can hurt more than help part 2 – While searching for employment, I enlisted several online job boards and recruitment firms. I even went to the state workforce agency for assistance. Some of the recruiters tweaked my resume with keywords and phrases to enhance my chances of being called for an interview. I had a total of eight different versions of my resume at one time floating around the internet. The state agency even got into the resume-tweaking act and deleted education. They said people might be intimidated by it and not offer me some positions. They felt as if  I would leave if a job suited to my education level became available. The state agency still didn’t find me any job leads. They type in your skill keywords and their system still couldn’t match me with potential employment. Turns out, they weren’t posting or seeking out companies who required anything more than a high school education. My skill level surpassed that even without my degrees being  listed! SO KEEP YOUR EDUCATION ON YOUR RESUME! SOMEONE WILL APPRECIATE YOUR HARD WORK!

5. Getting unemployment compensation will be difference between the survival and decimation of your life as you know it – There is a lot of conjecture about unemployment compensation being thrown around. Some folks feel it is a crutch and other view it as a life line. Well, I am here to tell you, from first hand knowledge, it is a LIFE LINE! A huge LIFE LINE! Without unemployment compensation you don’t have money to pay your bills, you lose your housing, your car, and your credit goes in the crapper. You don’t have money for food (really hard on families with children), can’t go to a movie or enjoy dinner out with friends. When you don’t have money, you can’t live. If you can’t live, then a lot of times people just want to die (see #2). ATTENTION CONGRESS! PLEASE RESTORE BENEFITS!

6. The job market has gone viral – What that means is company’s are not using the traditional job boards to recruit. I did a story on my other blog about outsourcing  human resource departments to outside recruiting firms. These firms scour social media websites to find qualified candidates. So, it is not enough to simply post your resume online. You have to join networking groups and forums dedicated to your chosen field or a field you might want to switch to. LinkedIn is one such platform in which you can get on the radar of hiring managers and recruiting firms. However, I am not endorsing LinkedIn. I’m just using them as an example of one place you can network. SOCIAL MEDIA IS KEY! But don’t post nekked pics of yourself on any social media platform! That will not work in your favor! And no I didn’t but I’m just sayin’.

7. Find a hobby – Jewelry making has become a life line of sorts. It enables me to release stress and gives me something to occupy my time.  If you don’t have a hobby, get one! Seriously! It will help ward of the poor-me’s (see #2).

8. Investigate starting a business – after all, this country was founded on grass-roots. Small businesses are the back bone of this nation (boo and hiss big business)! However, it is a slow and painful process and you will still need a job to make ends meet until you turn a profit! But when you do, you will feel accomplished and your self-esteem will sky-rocket (see #2)

9. Never give up – I know it’s hard and you lose faith very quickly when you get repeatedly rejected for a job. Money is gone, you’ve sold all your personal possessions to pay bills, and your friends list has dwindled because the lack of money doesn’t allow you to socialize anymore. There is a silver lining, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, etc. Cliché’s aside, it will get better and things will turn around. When is the question I always ask. There is no answer for that! Sorry! However, if you lean on your friends and family for support (see #2), you will find that silver lining and all the other optimistic cliché’s out there!

I hope these tips help you or at the very least give you hope that you are not alone!

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