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‘How Unemployment Feels’ Category

  1. What I Learned About Unemployment During My Travels [A Guest Post]

    October 31, 2015 by Lady Unemployed

    To paraphrase Tolstoy, “All employed people are alike; each unemployed person is unemployed in its own way.” To expand on this rather clumsy piece of paraphrasing, employed people of all nations and cultures are the same – happy to be working and getting paid for their work. However, unemployed people differ greatly from one part of the world to another. Or at least that is what I found out during my years in the trade show industry.

    But, I wander. I hate it when people do that and expect their readers (or listeners) to understand what they are talking about without any useful info.

    So, let me start again.

    An Overlong Introduction

    My name is James (not that it really matters) and I have spent more than a decade in the trade show industry. However, the type of service that my colleagues and myself provided were somewhat different from those you normally see in this industry. Namely, we provided something of a liaison services for Australian-based companies that wished to exhibit in markets that are considered to be less-traditional such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    Why those parts of the world?

    Well, for one, these parts of the world provide certain challenges to “outsiders”, challenges that have to do with the history of these parts, the world views people in those areas often share and certain practices that are considered less-than-businesslike in Western cultures. For more on these, check here and here.

    The other reason was that I had been in a relationship with a woman from Eastern Europe (more precisely Serbia) since high school (she is now my wife) and that my colleagues hailed from Central Asia before moving to Australia.

    We were young, we were foolish and we were fearless in that stupid way only 20-something people can be. But this is not a story about the insane situations we found ourselves in regularly and the reasons why we stopped doing what we did.

    This is a story that is more in the line with the theme of the LadyUnemployed site, i.e. the unemployment. More precisely, this is a story about how different cultures we had been in contact with see unemployment and how people of those cultures approach not having employment.

    The Communism Heritage and Apathy

    There is one thing that most of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia have in common – communist past.

    In some places it was full-on communism, like in the better part of Central Asia which was once part of the Soviet Union and in others it was some sort of a “progressive but still quite nearsighted” socialism like in the countries which used to make up Yugoslavia.

    The reason I am mentioning this is that in the “good old days” the governments provided jobs. These jobs may not have been perfect and many people were unhappy, but they were jobs. They knew they will have jobs. Jobs which paid enough for a normal life.

    When the countries were awakened from their communist dreams, in many parts that certain security disappeared as well. In the Balkans, for instance, the replacement has been the most brutal, corrupt form of wild capitalism you can imagine. The jobs are still scarce and most countries yelp under the burden of unemployment.

    In such circumstances, a certain form of apathy can be observed. People with college education cannot hope to get employment in their fields without serious connections and they resort to two solutions – they go west or they try and find employment well below their qualifications.

    Younger generations are often trying to do something about it, improving their knowledge, expanding their skill set, but they are often disheartened by the lack of results. It does not take them long to become as apathetic as the older generations.

    In the end, they accept being officially unemployed, trying to make a living for themselves off the books and off the radar.

    How We Do It In Australia

    I haven’t lived anywhere but in Australia in what we like to call the developed world, so I can only compare this with the unemployment experience Down Under. Which I intend to do.

    For one, that feeling of apathy is virtually unknown in Australia, even among people who come from those parts of the world I have talked about. It has to do with the fact that the sense of meritocracy is much more pronounced and that corruption is not rampant here (at least not to the extent it is in Eastern Europe and Central Asia).

    People know that if they make an effort, they will actually increase their chances of finding employment.

    Moreover, the government itself does everything in its power to help people improve their chances through various government-funded opportunities and courses that are aimed at creating skilled employees. If you want, you can find out more.

    I am not saying that it is all milk and honey in Australia. I have seen plenty of people with incredible skills and more than respectable education fail to find work for a number of reasons. But the biggest difference is that there is always hope and something to strive for.

    Sometimes we need a bit of perspective here in the “west” and I only hope that I have provided at least an iota of insight to help find that perspective. Also, I hope my ramblings haven’t bored you to death.

    AUTHOR: James D. Burbank is a happily married Aussie who is currently on hiatus and blogging about what he’s learned about business on the ground. He is also a big Utah Jazz fan.

  2. The Continuing Saga of a Frustrated (Passive) Job Seeker-Ed Tsyitee, Jr. @GreenChileAdict

    November 22, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    I am so pleased to have this writer return to continue talking about his unemployment journey. Follow him on Twitter for more!

    In the last entry, I mentioned how difficult it was to find a great paying job in this area that was not a service sector job.

    The fact is this area-from Las Cruces to El Paso-has added just over 3,000 jobs in the past year (2013-14). Awesome. If I want a job here they are available. I just have to be willing to start at $9.00 per hour. Does it matter that I have a Master’s degree? Nope. Not at all. Does it matter if it’s in Human Resource Management? Nope. Not at all.

    What to do? I’m pretty much exhausted from job searching. I have submitted at least 20 different applications to 20 different companies that use the same ATS platform-Taleo. You know what would be great? If Taleo was a single use platform. Build my profile, upload the resume, and BAM! done. Then I could apply using that profile.
    But, that’s not the case. I wouldn’t be frustrated and annoyed if that happened.
    I’ve eased up on the gas job searching. I’ve decided to reach out to my network more instead of spending 5-6 hours job researching. Those public administration applications I submitted? Never heard back. Should I have reached out? Yes. That’s on me. Mea culpa.

    I did find out though that I need just 6 courses and I’ll have a graduate certificate in Project Management. 9 classes and I’ll have a Masters in Project Management. Guess what I signed up for? Yup, grad student round two.

    I’m still job searching. Just passively now. I’ll follow up on what I have out there. But, I’m done chasing the job rabbit around the track. I’ll just focus on networking and school now.
    And, if I see something that I can qualify for-you bet I’m gonna reach out first before subjecting my resume to the ATS Darkness.

  3. The Job Applicant Hierarchy – Who Really Gets the Job? [by Marc Shaeffer]

    August 9, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    who really gets the job?


    Overall, the job market is getting better.   Slowly getting better, that is.  Personally, I’ve been having more job interviews in the last 6 months than anytime time period since I was let go from my full-time job in 2010.   Last Friday, there were signs that more discouraged workers that were once sitting on the sidelines were now re-entering the workforce.   The competition for jobs, however, is still a concern.   As of May, there is still an average of more than 2 unemployed people per 1 open position.   If you factor in people with jobs, career fields and regional markets, that number is actually higher.   With more people entering the workforce, that ratio may not fluctuate much in the coming months.

    Anyone who’s been out of his or her career field for a long time knows how competitive the job market has been.   When you apply for an open position at a company, there’s always a hierarchy of candidates that hiring mangers have to consider:

    1. Internal candidates with similar experience
    2. External candidates with similar experience who have a job.
    3. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work less than 3 months.
    4. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work less than 6 months.
    5. External candidates with similar experience who have been out of work more than 6 months.

    And then somewhere at the bottom near #1000:

    External candidates with no relevant experience who might just be trying to fill a job search quota for unemployment compensation.

    Technically, I’m at #5 in this pecking order.   I’m under-employed, but I have not found any (non-volunteer) work in my career field for over 6 months.   This is something I have come to realize shortly after the completion of even the most successful interviews.   Recently, I interviewed for a full-time position at a media company involved with theatrical program distribution.   I got my interview suit dry-cleaned.   Went to the barber for a trim (and to de-emphasize my gray hair).   Did all my research regarding the company.   Prepared all kinds of questions I might be asked.   Come time for the interview, I was ready.   Spoke with confidence with the hiring manager.   After it was over, I felt I had a very good shot at the next round of interviews.

    A week later, I got an email on a Friday afternoon from the hiring manager.   He thanked me personally for coming in to talk and that I had “great qualities and a professional attitude” but he added, however, that “we will be going in a different direction and will not need your services at this time.” When I asked a follow-up question regarding what key characteristic the other favored candidates had that I may have been lacking, his reply included this cryptic sentence:

    There are a set of individuals with similar attributes and experiences similar to yours that are currently more ingrained in our industry that make for a better fit.”

    In others words, I was being passed over because I wasn’t a #1 or #2 on the Job Applicant Hierarchy.   Even in this slow job recovery, being a #5 sometimes feels like being all the way down to number #1000.   The only way to improve your chances is stronger job growth or maybe finding a new career path altogether.   I’m at a point where I may have to choose the latter option.

    We’ll see.       

    What do you think of the job hierarchy? Who really gets the job you are interviewing for? 

    You can read more about Marc Shaeffer and is job searching journey by visiting his blog at

  4. The Reality of Being Unemployed at 58 – An Anonymous Unemployment Story

    June 4, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

     I was so glad for the opportunity to publish this article about being unemployed at 58 years old. This is not only a post about the struggles, but an inspiring post about not letting the situation get you down for too long.

    Unemployed at 58

    In 2011 I changed jobs. I left a very stressful, low paying job to better myself and reduce stress. Even though the new job was stressful during the training period, I knew in time the stress would subside. After the first year the stress level did subside and I was enjoying the new challenges. I was doing a good job and my boss was very pleased with my performance. I was given several raises and had worked up to $21.25 an hour within a short time.

    In December of 2012 we were told the company had been sold. My boss who owned the company just turned 78 and it was time for him to sell. No one could blame him for this move. He did his best to ensure everyone would retain their jobs.

    I have since learned that many times in an acquisition employees are told they will not lose their jobs, only for the opposite to happen several months later. This scenario is one that causes emotional turmoil once the employee truly is let go. That is exactly what happened to me.

    It was in the company’s best interest to keep me long enough to make the transition. Instead of being upfront and honest, they were deceitful. The right thing to do would have been to offer a stay on bonus to help with the transition, and a severance package if your position became redundant.

    There was no severance package. I was only given the two weeks pay that was withheld when I started, and the two weeks vacation I had accrued.

    Thus started my experience of being unemployed at age 58. This is not the first time I have been unemployed, but it is much different than being unemployed in my 20’s, 30’s, or even my 40’s.

    First off, at 58 I am tired. I started working when I was 18 years old, and there were many years while raising 3 children by myself that I worked 2 and 3 jobs to keep afloat. I never lacked for a job, with most job changes coming from someone seeking my employment. I live in a small community and know many people.

    Once I was let go, I applied for unemployment and was fortunate enough to get the maximum for 21 weeks. However, I was unfortunate that the Federal Unemployment Extension is no longer available.

    Checking all options I also sought legal advice regarding pains in my neck, arms, and hands that I suspected were caused by 40 years of keyboard work. I have a pending worker’s compensation claim that the company’s insurance is trying to deny. At my own expense I have had an EMG test done that shows I have a pinched nerve and carpal tunnel syndrome. The claim was started in September of 2012 and as of June 2014 I still have no compensation coming in, nor have I been allowed any medical treatment.

    The next issue that presented itself in my new found unemployed state is I no longer have the means to take care of other health issues. Without insurance I cannot afford the cataract surgery I need. Without the surgery my vision is impaired and makes it difficult for me to work in office environments with many fluorescent lights and reports with small fonts.

    The first few months without a job I was in shock. Some days all I could do was sit and cry. I was angry, hurt, scared, and tired. I knew that in a few short months I could find myself without any income and what little savings I had would be gone.

    As I proceeded to search for a new job, I could tell my heart was just not into it. Being in such a small community, the good paying jobs are few and far between. I knew that my past salary was going to be hard to find. When I started seeing jobs I knew I was qualified for, I become distressed when I would see the pay being offered. Are they serious?

    Don’t get me wrong. Most of my working life I barely made enough to get by. That is why I worked 2 and 3 jobs. But at age 58, with 40 years of experience, it is hard to make myself want to work for minimum wage, or barely above.

    So, each day that I faced the reality of being unemployed, my mind was churning and I was becoming depressed. Then I was given a unique gift that changed my whole perspective.

    I was given the gift of 6 sessions with a Life Coach. I didn’t even know what a life coach was, much less what she was suppose to do for me.

    The Life Coach sessions were done by phone, as my Coach lives in Georgia, and I live in Oklahoma. From the very first session I knew this was something that was going to help me through a difficult time.

    With the help of my Life Coach I was able to understand what change, and most certainly chaotic change, does to our bodies and our emotional state. During times of turmoil there is a 4 stage cycle that takes place. She explained to me that we can be like a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. During the in-between stage it is neither a caterpillar, nor a butterfly. It is just goo. Goo inside a cocoon. The cocoon is a safe place. For us mere humans a cocoon can give us a place to be safe, and to just let go. The place where we can take time to rest, to heal, to re-group.

    The next 3 stages are about dreaming and scheming. This process is one in which we take a good hard look at ourselves, where we have been, what we have experienced, and most importantly, where we want to go.

    During the sessions with my Life Coach I was led through meditation and grounding exercises and was able to actually feel my body relax and start releasing the stress. The aches and pains I had were becoming more bearable. I found myself worrying less and allowing myself to be in my cocoon for a spell. I was giving myself permission to just be.

    One of the most influential sessions I had with my Life Coach was the one that helped me learn about my Social Self versus my Essential Self. With this lesson I became aware of the times in the past that I was excited about my job, and the times that my job caused me to be totally out of sorts.

    I was able to examine my social life in the context of social self versus essential self. This allowed me to accept that through the years I have become less social, and this is OK. I am not the same person at 58 that I was at 38, or even 48.

    In the process of thinking all this through I realized I do not want to go back to work for someone else. Once this realization hit, I had to start thinking about how I am going to eat. For the time being my wonderful son has agreed to live with me and pay the bills. Without his help I would have no choice but to bite the bullet and take a job that may cause me to go against my Essential Self.

    With my son’s help I have been given the opportunity to scheme and dream. In doing so I have moved myself forward toward an answer. I have taken the steps to become a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor and am working toward creating my own business.

    Having taken the time to be in my cocoon I am now ready to become the butterfly.

    If you would like to share your unemployment story, please contact me at

  5. Healthy Dose of Reality for College Grads

    May 19, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    For anyone struggling with finding a job after college, this photo is for you. It’s a healthy reality for college grads and one I struggle with (there should be another lane for “unable to find a well-paying, lucrative job”).

    healthy dose of reality for college grads

    Happy “pour-yourself-another-cup-of-coffee” Monday everyone.

  6. Frustrations of a Job Seeker by Ed Tsyitee Jr (Twitter @GreenChileAdict)

    May 17, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    Thank you to Ed Tsyitee Jr. who shared his story today about frustrations of a job seeker. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @GreenChileAdict

    frustrations of a job seeker

    Via Flickr User Pipstar


    After living in Virginia for 12 years, I moved back to Las Cruces, New Mexico in 2006.

    I ended up working for Wal-Mart that year. With a Bachelor’s Degree. How much above minimum wage did I get for that? 10 cents. Yup.

    You see, I live in a city where job opportunity means “Hey-at least McDonald’s offered you a job, so why are you complaining?”

    The service sector dominates this job market.

    You want to work in a call center? No problem! We have at least 6 to choose from!

    You want to work in retail? Hey! We got you covered! We have 3 Wal-Marts now! Ooo! And a Sam’s Club!

    Strange enough, New Mexico State University is here. You would think there would be a more diverse job market here for a city with a population of over 100k. But, there really isn’t.

    Just a lot of promise, like the Spaceport will bring jobs here. Or the Army base will bring in jobs (read: service sector jobs). Or the industrial park 45 minutes from here will bring in jobs.


    I just completed my Masters in Human Resource Management program this year. When people ask where I’m looking for work they seem surprised when I answer, “Oh, you know, Arizona Nevada, the Pacific Northwest.” You mean you aren’t looking here in New Mexico?

    Do I really have too?

    I just sent an application to the State of New Mexico for an HR job. It’s a longshot, but at least I’m trying to stay positive.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.


  7. Getting Laid Off (And A Podcast You Should Check Out)

    May 15, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    My most favorite part of this blog is hearing unemployment stories from people and today I got a mention from a very cool podcast called, “20 Something Roast.” It focuses a lot on careers and how to make it in the real world (or what I fondly like to call – the long semester we’ve been preparing for).

    The host, Swim, not only mentions me, but also talks about his experiences with getting laid off from his sales job and exactly how it felt.

    I highly recommend it because you get to actually hear him describe the feelings of losing his job and talk about the aftermath.

    My favorite line is: “You are much more than what the company you work for labels you as.”


    This podcast will inspire you and I am so thankful he mentioned my blog.

    Check out the podcast that mentioned me here and make sure to listen to the others!

  8. Sound of Silence [My Ode to the Job Search]

    February 27, 2014 by Lady Unemployed

    I don’t know about anyone else but what’s worse than bad interviews, awkward phone conversations, and the overall feeling of begging…is the silence of a phone that will not ring.

    So today I present to you, my ode to the job search –

  9. The Effect of Unemployment: Remembering Who We Are [An Anonymous Guest Post]

    October 28, 2013 by Lady Unemployed

    I love when people take a leap of faith and write me about their thoughts of unemployment. If you would like to write a post for my blog, please send me an email at It can remain anonymous. The rest of this post is written by an anonymous submitter.


    Unemployment can affect individuals in a way that is much more profound than many people may realise. Of course, not having a job means not earning money, and consequently there are many practical and economic problems which are not to be under-estimated.

    However, it is the way it can affect you mentally that I feel needs to be highlighted. This is the hidden part of the unemployment=unhappiness equation that is not helped with a £71 government cheque. It is a insidious black cloud that can hang over people who are looking for work, and it often goes unnoticed. It affects each person differently but can be both subtle and debilitating.

    Personally, for someone whose self-image was linked strongly to my job and career, it was easy to start to lose sight of my identity. I thought ‘If I am not working as a designer, then am I still a designer? Or creative? What am I now?’ If you are in this position then you have to re-structure your way of looking at yourself and the world. You have to re-program the way you perceive not only yourself, but others, in a world where society puts people into boxes – ‘Professional’, ‘Blue Collar’, ‘Creative’. You have to remind yourself that you are an individual made up of an un-definable number of unique traits and characteristics, and are not just a label. You have so many talents and idiosyncrasies; you are not just defined by your job. However it can be hard to move the focus away from your career when you live in a world where the second question people tend to ask is ‘What do you do?’. We all know they don’t mean ‘what do you do for fun?’ but really ‘what do you do for WORK?’. This leads you to ask yourself –

    What DO I do?

    If I was a designer before but haven’t done it in a year, is that still what I am?

    Or can I be something different?

    Or, am I nothing because nobody seems to want to employ me?

    The answer to the last question is obviously no, you are not nothing, but I am demonstrating how easy it can be to think that way when you are confronted with that question for the 100th time. After many months of job hunting, it can get harder and harder to tough it out. It is quite easy at first, but each time the question ‘What do you do?’ is asked it becomes more meaningful, each time you doubt yourself a little more.

    Most people would find it easy to understand how someone who has been out of work can lose some self-esteem when it comes to their career. But I think that what a lot of people don’t realise is that it can also affect your self-esteem throughout the other areas of your life as well. The self-doubt goes beyond the workplace, and seeps into how you feel about yourself in general.

    If you can break through the darkness however, I think that there is some healthy self-exploration that can be made in this time. You can take advantage of the negatives and actually get a step ahead of everyone else. Being in this position can help you to break free from the boxes that people love to put you in. It stops you asking the same question of ‘what do you do?’ when you meet someone new, and pushes you to be more inventive with your small talk – maybe you will learn something about who the person really is and not just how they earn money. I don’t want to discount people who really do live for their jobs, these people are defined by what they do for a living, and want it this way. Though equally, the same argument can still be made – a musician might have a lot more too them than their music. They might have a passion for silent movies, love skiing, and volunteer with old people every week….

    When I talked to someone about the things I had been struggling with, he asked me what I thought my intrinsic qualities were. I was at a loss. All I could think of was the list of key skills on my CV, but this wasn’t what he meant. He meant the unique and special qualities that I have as a person, and which speak about who I really am, and make me, well….me. It scared me that I wasn’t really sure. I had become so caught up in trying to sell myself to employers, that I had lost sight of the truth of who I was. It made me realise how easy it is to forget the qualities that you don’t put on your resume – ‘Always writes something nice in birthday cards’, ‘Dances the robot really badly’, ‘Shows what she is thinking through the expressions on her face’. These are some of the silly little things that make me who I am. And just because I won’t be publicising them to potential employers, doesn’t mean I should forget them, or be any less proud of them, or think that they are any less part of me than having ‘a good attention to detail’. Hell, I’d rather be known for an hilariously bad robot than for meeting deadlines anyway….

    Employers – don’t employ people because you feel sorry for them, but do open your mind and give people a chance. If someone has the appropriate transferable skills but hasn’t worked in that industry before, think ‘do they have they passion?’ ‘Do they really want it?’, maybe they could actually bring something new to the table and provide fresh insights.

    Friends and family, your role here isn’t so much about helping with the job hunt, or paying the rent (although no doubt this help will be needed!). You are there to support the person – the real person that is inside of this situation. They may be lost, or just at a loss. They might have forgotten who they are, or what they are trying to achieve. You need to remind them of the things that make them unique, and I am not just referring to the traits that make them attractive to potential employers. I am talking about the reasons why you love them, why they are in your life, and why they couldn’t be replaced. Because sometimes it can be as simple as that to help us remember who we

  10. Unemployment – The Thing You Can’t Just Get Rid Of

    October 14, 2013 by Lady Unemployed

    My mom said, “Unemployment is the only thing you can’t just get rid of – if this was a man, I would have broken up him already.”

    And my mom is right! She’s been out of work six moths now and if this was a relationship, it would have been a rotten one.

    If you think of it, when you are unemployed, you are basically begging someone to like you, getting very little in return, having plans and hopes dashed and taken away, and constantly having to look and be your best without any promise of a good outcome.

    Unemployment makes for a bad relationship and it’s time that we all had “the talk” with unemployment.