I have been unemployed for almost three years. I am 50 years old, college educated and professionally certified (HR). I have applied for positions with hundreds of employers in the past three years. In that span of time I have been contacted for four interviews, and had no offers of employment. This is the longest I have been unemployed in my life (for a little perspective when I started my 1st job at age 16, Jimmy Carter was president). How did I get to this place?
My husband accepted a new position with his employer in 2009 and relocated to Georgia. When I say “accepted” I am being kind, this was not an offer he could refuse, if you know what I mean. At the time I was working as a Human Resource Analyst and my daughter was a junior in high school. My son, the oldest, was a senior in college. Our family had relocated a few times in the past 20 years or so, and I had always been able to “land on my feet”. By landing on my feet I mean, find a job! I stayed behind and focused on preparing our home for sale, taking care of my sick boxer and enjoying a little “me” time.
When I arrived in Georgia in December 2010, searching for a new job became my full-time job. I scoured the internet for opportunities, attended careers fairs and applied for jobs ranging from “dishwasher” to “CEO”. That’s a bit of an exaggeration but I think you get the point. About one year ago I returned to school, thanks to a Workforce Investment Act grant (WIA), and completed my Society of Human Resources Professionals certification in an effort to make myself a more attractive candidate. This has not improved my job search results, yet?
Aside from the obvious challenges of unemployment (lack of income), there are more insidious ones that are not discussed publicly nearly enough. The impact on your self-confidence and self-perception is devastating. The best way I can describe it would be to compare it to the time I was a 13 year old girl attending my first school dance, and seeing all my friends being asked to dance while I watched from an uncomfortable position leaning against the gymnasium wall. If not being called for interviews was not reason enough to be pessimistic, the longer I remain unemployed makes the prospect of a future job even less likely. Some employers have gone as far as to recommend that you not apply if you are not currently employed. And you thought you cleared a hurdle if you were not a convicted felon. Think again?
Following a particularly difficult day recently I decided to start blogging about my unemployment experience. account4gaps.com is a play on that phrase that sends chills up the spine of anyone who belongs to the community of the long-term unemployed, “account for all gaps in employment”. Easier said than done. It’s been extremely helpful because it has given me a reason to get out of bed some days. Through the blogging process I have been able to reach out to others with similar experiences, follow news and policy makers and last but not least VENT!
I encourage all of my readers to share their experiences with unemployment, job searching and anything else that you feel may be a match for this blog. Please email me at email@example.com. A special thank you to Antoinette for writing this post.