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May 7, 2010

Looking for work and feeling like a piece of s---


I was talking to someone I know who has been out of work for six weeks. He feels pretty lousy.  He spends his mornings looking through Craigslist and other services that list jobs in his field. He sends in his resume, cover letter, work samples.  He doesn't get called back.

Six weeks in to his job search: .He feels like he's letting his family down. He feels like he's letting himself down. All he's worked for in his life--it seems meaningless.

I hear of people--mostly professional men, actually--who have been out of work three, six, eight months.  This person I know--he's just in the beginning stages of this weird sort of misery and despair.

I ran into a neighbor the other day at Pacific Bay Coffee Company.  She herself works as a consultant, juggling several jobs to keep her family afloat. These are jobs she never expected to have. Her husband is a commercial architect. Or was, until he was laid off from his job eight months ago. This couple had come to the United States--specifically from Europa and to the East Bay--about six years ago so that he could take a well-paying, challenging job here and so that they could give their kids a taste of an American suburban life.

This neighbor, who has dual citizenship, loves it here in Walnut Creek. And so do her children, so much so that she decided that she and her kids would stay here in Walnut Creek, and her kids would stay in school here--she didn't want to uproot them from their friends and neighborhood--while her husband goes back to Switzerland. To work. He finally landed a job--all the way back across the Atlantic.

"So much for coming here to live the American dream," she said, and she searched her laptop for cheap fares to Europe for the summer.  The family will be there or here together during summers and Christmas holidays.

That person I know: He had a job where he managed all sorts of projects and people in a very tough competitive field, and he had to work across all sorts of media and industries.

"I feel like I'm so under-qualified," he said.

He talked about specific job skills he didn't have that these vacant jobs were looking for. The skills mostly had to do with the ability to work in certain computer programs.

Feeling useless and under-qualified: that's exactly how you feel when you're out of work and e-mailing your cover letter and resume off to prospective employers these days.  You send those pieces of yourself off and never heard back. Is anyone out there to actually receive them?

I was there myself after getting laid off seven years ago. I went up to sign up at a Walnut Creek temp agency, where I learned my Word skills were not quite up to snuff. They gave me a pitying look and suggested I'd probably only qualify for the lowest paying temp jobs.

Of course, I could pay to take a course. Sure, I thought. Take a course in this one software program out of how many software programs these days that might just be useful.  

I left feeling dejected, but also a bit angry. Sorry, but getting a bit better at Word is not that hard.

Fortunately, I managed to land another job soon after that interview at the temp agency.

Actually this person I know mentioned the computer skill he needed to make the cut for a few of the dozens of jobs he was applying for. The jobs he's looking for are not technical jobs, and the job that I landed required just that skill.   I didn't have it either when I was hired. I learned it on the job. I got to be pretty good at it.

As it happens, I had other qualities and skills and work/life experience that were far more valuable for this particular position.

It's just sad when I hear these sorts of stories, and I wonder, have we evolved into such an era of specialization that most of us are technically unqualified for many jobs we could do perfectly well?

Or are there just so many applicants for every one job?

15 comments:

Anna, The Lemon Lady said...

I'm tellin' ya, fruit collecting can really raise the spirits. When this all began, I rarely ever told others about my husband's heart attack. Yet, we were suffering in many ways, financially receiving help from his parents, and my husband is a very qualified professional too. Sometimes life just halts all of our best laid plans. Now, we are raising a little one and we are enjoying the time spent at Farmers' Markets and the life that is gifted to us- ONE DAY AT A TIME - It is far from easy, but it is balanced to some degree.

Perhaps those who are out of work right now could consider a visit to help The Lemon Lady at local farmers' markets. Fell free to pass along my name/number/blog, etc.

Thanks Soccer Mom,
AnnaAndAva@gmail.com
Cell: 510.406.1625
www.thelemonlady.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

that's capitalism for you.

it always needs an excess army of unemployed to keep wages down for everyone else.

Anonymous said...

as opposed to communism, where everyone is fully employed but lives in poverty....yeah!!!

Except for the party elite, of course.

Anonymous said...

Like China, with its 4 million wealthy households?

While the wealthy currently accounted for less than one per cent of urban Chinese households, the number is expected to grow at an annual rate of 15.9 per cent in next five to seven years, said the report.

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? You like how China does things?

China's economy started to improve when they moved towards a capitalist system.

All I can say is I wouldn't want to live there. Maybe you do...go for it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of capitalism, but I'll have to say that this move toward a global economy is troubling. It makes sense for businesses to employ the cheapest qualified labor they can, and if their competitors are doing it then it's imperative in order to stay competive.

As they fire American workers and hire in other countries, service industries in the U.S. are negatively impacted as well.

The only logical outcome is that wages will eventually equalize. That will mean a big decline in the standard of living in the U.S.

Jason Wheeler said...

Finding work right now is very difficult and many people that find it just get laid off shortly after. Keeping busy on projects hobbies and volunteer work helps to keep your mind busy.

Volunteer at a local chamber and you will find a business that needs an employee.

Anonymous said...

7:30am.
What a totally right wing, corporatist response.

Few believe this anymore.

Anonymous said...

Rich people are not out of work. They are the ones who offshored all the decent paying jobs to places like India so they could pay less and become even richer. At our expense. They are not loyal Americans. They just want to keep more and more of the pie for themselves and they heck with us poor slobs who still need silly pathetic things like public schools and crime-free streets. These people send their kid to private schools and live behind gated communities.

CrapMoStink said...

Sixteen Months of unemployment. My search consists of the entire U.S. Interview after Interview no luck!!!

I have also participated in Dumbing down my Credentials for entry level clerk positions.. My take away is to write a book.. Going from Six Figures to Six Dollars(On Unemployment) and still standing...

Volunteer ... Give and It will Be Given unto you... It's like planting a garden you get your seed in the ground by volunteering your time..

And the you will not have time to say Wah Wah !! and I won't have to give you some cheese to go with your Whine!

A caveat this is from a Right Leaning (Winger) Professional Male who reads Liberal Blogs such as this one... I don't even live in Walnut Creek or California for that matter...

But I will let you in on a little secret I was stationed @ NWS Concord :)I also shop @ Nordstrom & Neimans and when visiting the creek I only shop @ Lunardi's

Anonymous said...

Just got let go myself after 10+ years, from a billion $ company, that, you guessed it, is outsourcing 85% of its IT department to India and China.

Worked my way up from lower levels to a senior level person, and earned every dime of my pay. But now thanks to The World is Flat and other dip$hit thinking, we're all dismissed for making too much money because they can get 10 of me in India for the same price.

7:31PM you're a fool. I work with many Russian born programmers that have lived through Communism and know how bad it really is, so spare us the liberal nonsense, probably said while wearing your Che t-shirt and wearing your Kafiya scarf.

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Reverend Amina said...

About a student: I heard that a parent is spreading lies about a student, and as a result he has suffered a loss of a friend. SO I want to tell the truth here. Robinson has NEVER had any history of problems with police before the incident that got him in recent trouble. He has NO "Priors" with the police or any other criminal agency. That parent who is saying things about him is telling lies and that is actually against the law; it is defamation of character, especially since he has suffered consequences as a result. I wonder if SHE has "priors" as a liar?

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