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If You Are Unemployed, You Aren’t Doing Enough (Or So We’re Told)

July 24, 2012 by Lady Unemployed

Try Your Best Inspirational Quotes Qiqi Emma January 18, 201016

Some advice is about as helpful as this piece of paper.


When I first started my blog, I invited anyone to write me and tell me their unemployment story. And I heard from one person in particular that has a very similar to story as my own (and probably yours) and she allowed me to share this with all of you. I was very grateful for this considering I don’t want to be the only standing on this podium bemoaning my life’s current state all alone.

And her story touched a nerve with me considering all the snarky implications I receive from people about how I am not doing enough to get a job. But it was nice to know that I am not alone in hearing this awful stereotype of what the unemployed are doing (or are NOT doing) to find a job. 

To clarify, the rest of this post is written by Monica, and I am posting her story as she told it to me. A special thank you to Monica for letting me tell her story.

“I graduated college in 2011, took a break in the summer to travel with a friend, then got down to business. For a few months I had a hard time finding a job, then something opened up at a university in town!

It wasn’t great, but it was something to do until I found THE job (which is in education, by the way). After 8 months, the budget suddenly shrank…and I was the first to go. I had no big emotions…didn’t cry, didn’t get angry, didn’t get depressed. So, I have been out of work now for about 2.5 weeks, and I am already getting bored. I started to do volunteer work at the local animal shelter and literacy council. I am still looking for a job, sending out 10+ resumes a day (I even got fancy resume paper for my fancy resume packets!)

Like you, I have been doing the networking thing: setting up informational interviews, asking for career advice, meeting with hiring managers, even going to networking workshops twice a month. Nothing has really panned out.

Well, I have been getting a lot of help from my aunts as well. One has connected me with an editor who has helped me completely redo my resume and cover letter. We chat, she asks questions, and then gives me advice. Great.

The other, she is just pushy. She likes to call to “chat” and give some of her ideas about this job searching thing. “Have you tried volunteering?”

“Of course”

“Why don’t you just move to New York and work at McDonald’s?”

“Because I am living rent free and I don’t want to give that up for $7 an hour.”

“Well, what are you going to do when you go into an interview and they ask what you’ve been doing for the last six months? You can’t tell them you’ve been sitting on your ass all day doing nothing.”

Whoa! Admittedly, this infuriated me.  We have had a dozen conversations like this. I know that I can’t very well tell the employer I am doing absolutely nothing with my life. I do appreciate the advice, I don’t appreciate the implications behind said advice.

In any given 30 minute conversation I will hear “But you can’t tell an interviewer you are doing nothing with your days. Then you just look lazy and stupid.”

Now, I do try and explain what I am doing. I do try and explain how many applications I put out in any given day. It doesn’t seem to get through. The last conversation we had put me over the edge. She just said “But you can’t tell and interviewer you are doing nothing with your days” one too many times.

To make it worse, she followed it with “Well, you can’t sit around all day and look for jobs, you have to get out there and hang out with friend. I’m surprised you picked up the phone. I thought you would be out with friends.” (it was after 10 p.m. during this particular conversation. Mind you, I am too poor to afford gas at this point. I get maybe a tank a month when I can find babysitting work.)

Job hunting is frustrating enough, and I certainly don’t want my family to imply that I am just a lazy college graduate who doesn’t know what she is doing. I appreciate advice, welcome it, even. There is always a fine line between advice and insults.”

– The offer still stands for anyone who wants to share their story with my readers or you can even just share your story with me if you want to remain private. I have a great listening ear. Click her to find out the details.




  1. kathleen says:

    I was unemployed for 3 years. Applied for hundreds of jobs along with hundreds of others. Being self employed for 20+ years didn’t help. I never did secure a job. Business is starting to pick up finally. Meanwhile, My son is in a similar situation. Took him a year to find a job that ALMOST covers his bills.

    All we can do is keep trying. Be kind and courteous along to others who are the way…

    • Oh that sounds like a story I’ve heard so many times from people! I am running across the same thing as well. When I do find a job lead it sometimes isn’t enough to pay bills! I am so glad your business is picking up!

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    Advice is easy to hand out when you’re not in the same situation or have never been in that situation. Looking for work is a hard, thankless job all in and of itself. Hang in there, things will open up for you.n

  3. Monica says:

    Published! Woo!
    It’s ridiculous the kind of stereotypes society puts on people who are less fortunate. Advice is always easy to give, but just remember not to cross the line into insult territory!

  4. George says:

    Getting a job these days are not easy. But there are plenty of startup jobs and the recruiters just look at the proficiency and the practical experience the candidate posses than educational quantification.

  5. Emma says:

    I understand where this person is coming from, and nobody has the right to judge them. But I’m a recent college graduate and I would have taken any job, even if that meant working at McDonalds or a coffee shop just so I had a job. I graduated with honors in music education and couldn’t find anything in my field so I took a mothers day out position. Not exactly the kind of thing you expect to take with a college degree but that’s life. I think you need to take whatever job you can get and get over the fact that it may not be exactly what you wanted.

    • Monica says:

      I have no problem working at McDonalds or a coffee shop. Though I would like to try and delay that option as long as possible, I won’t turn down an offer. I do, however, have a problem with moving 700 miles and paying rent just to work fast food. What bothers me is the feeling I am getting from my family, that I have to prove that I am looking and uproot my entire life for that proof. It’s not something I want from my family.

    • Yah, very true. It’s tough to accept taking anything, but actually, anything isn’t always out there! But it’s good to keep options open.

  6. Ashley Lane says:


    I feel where you are coming from completely. I moved from the US to the UK to take a teaching job in 2008 (quite literally month’s before the crash). Then, after meeting my now husband, I realised that teaching wasn’t my passion and decided that publishing was the rout for me. Excellent timing indeed. Not only was I switching jobs during a recession, I was attempting to get into an industry that was possibly hit the hardest.

    Following my seemingly insane move (at this point I had moved in with my husband–we weren’t married for another 8 months–to his place which happened to be his uncles place as well) I began taking unpaid internships and low paid freelance jobs only to find, two years later, my unsuccessful interviews were becoming less and less constructive. They stopped offering, ‘here’s where you can improve’ and wound up saying ‘it was simply that competative’ meaning, the interviewer quite literally took a dart and threw it at one of our applications. The competition was that fierce. Bottom line was, I still didn’t have a job.

    By the grace of whatever larger force that is up there, my husband was offered a fabulous job out in Dubai that paid incredibly well. And because the job market is so much better out here, I found a position as an editor of a magazine. But that’s after two years and some SERIOUSLY dumb luck.

    My point is, it’s brutal out there. And for your ‘advisor’ to tell you to up and move to NY only to work in McDonnalds for $7/h is utter rubbish. Don’t listen to her. If you’re willing and ready to make a big move to a tax-haven (where they basically throw money at you-Dubai is a fabulous place for that), then by all means make the move. Your CV will thank you for it and it will be a life changing adventure.

    However, if you’re like a lot of people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable doing that, then I will leave you with this. Hang in there. You’re obviously doing all of the right things by utilising the tools that are on offer. And the one thing you need to keep reminding yourself, and this is REALLY what got me through, because I had some pretty low moments during those two years, is that you are NOT alone. At all. There are THOUSANDS like you out there who are experiencing the exact same thing. And it is nothing personal. Many times I’d hang up the phone from a rejection thinking it was personal–but it’s not. That said, sooner or later, something will give and you will find that amazing job.

    Oh and if you do want to chat about the possibilities of relocating, do give me a shout: There are tons of teaching jobs out here and they pay incredibly well.

    Best of luck and keep smiling 🙂 x

    • Monica says:

      Thanks for the advice. Expect an e-mail!
      I would love to move to another country for the right opportunity. I am working on my application for a Fulbright grant to teach English in Europe. I have’t decided what country, but I am seriously leaning towards Germany. I am very glad you found a job out there and you are doing well. It has been two years since I was in the UK, but the feeling I got when I was over there is that they are in the same boat as us. The same aunt I talked to tried to talk me out of moving to Oklahoma for a job. It was for an International Student Adviser position at a university near-ish Tulsa. We’re talking full time with full benefits. She seriously tried to convince me it wasn’t a good idea. Her reasoning was what if something happens and I fall on hard times with no support system. What will I do? Let me tell you, I am not above sleeping on a mattress on the floor and eating Ramen every night! It seems she likes to contradict herself.
      All I can say for anyone reading this and nodding along is to keep trying. Go to networking meetings, set up informational interviews, talk to the interviewer about what went wrong in the interview. What you hear may suck, but it can only help you. There is a job for everyone! You can’t stay unemployed forever.

      • Ashley Lane says:

        Sorry it took me so long to respond–I didn’t actually realise you had written back! 🙂

        Ramen and a mattress on a floor isn’t the worse thing in the world, to be honest, especially if you’re living out your dream in Europe. From one an ex-educator to a current educator, Germany is by far the best place to go in Europe if you want to teach. On a whole, and this is coming from people who have lived/worked as teachers in Germany, the students respect their teachers. *sharp gasp of surprise* Not only that, students are put on tracks according to their abilities, interests and test placements, which makes things incredibly competetive. Everyone wants to be in the best spots and those who don’t care, well bottom line is, you get what you put in. A far cry from the US/UK system where teachers are given oversized classes with an absurdly wide range of abilities and interests.

        Anyway, enough about the teaching blabber, please feel free to drop me a line. It’s incredibly slow here in Dubai at the moment due to Ramadan, so I’ll have a bit more time to answer any questions you might have about moving over seas.

        Oh and, LOVE the blog (which I forgot to say in my first post). 🙂


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