Our Unemployed Life

Last week a story on Yahoo read, Out of work for a while? Tell us your story, so I did.  Zachary Roth is looking for people’s stories to perhaps share at another time.  In case mine goes into the dark abyss, here are my answers to Zachary’s questions:

• How did you lose your job in the first place?
Well, my company at the time was going through its 3rd round of layoffs and this time I wasn’t as lucky as I was during the first two rounds.  I worked as an international marketing coordinator and was told that my position was simply getting eliminated.  I was brought back for one more short project but in the end I was still left without a job.
• What was the hardest thing about being out of work so long?
I would have to say the hardest part is the rejection.  I made it a point to apply to at least 10 jobs a week.  I would get lucky and go on interviews, about 15 total in the 16 months that I was out of work, but they all ended in rejection.  I was either overqualified, or underqualified or didn’t have that “je ne s’ais quais.”  While unemployed I also finished up my MBA studies which quite honestly couldn’t have come at a worse time because I was now not only looking for a job but I was also an MBA graduate.  For one reason or another, this new title immediately took me out of a large pool of jobs that did not require that kind of education.
• Were potential employers wary of hiring you when they found out you hadn’t had a job in while?
Nobody said it to my face but I know that had to be true.  I also couldn’t really say that I’d like to be compensated at a specific level because really…beggers can’t be choosers and at times I felt like a begger…with an MBA degree.
• How helpful were jobless benefits in keeping you and your family afloat? Did you exhaust them?
They were very helpful.  I did have to reach out to my family for help as I had a car payment and two school loans.  When I began to give up, I applied for a retail job which also took about 2 months to secure.  Those two things together helped a little but I had no savings and my health insurance ran out which made things even worse, seeing as here in MA we have to have health insurance.  I chose to go without for a few months because I simply could not come up with $300 and did not want to ask my family for more help.
• Are you seeing more competition for openings than you did when the economy was booming?
Absolutely, I called it the buyers market.  The employers were the buyers and had, and still have, the upper hand.  My resume was competing against at least 100 people each time and then you would be one of 5-10 people being considered.
• Did you find work in the end? If not, are you still looking? Or have you given up?
I did finally find a job and I could not be happier.  It took 16 months but I did it.  There were a lot of times when I thought I wouldn’t make it out and would be thought of as “old school” in terms of my marketing knowledge.  So, I started a blog called Our Unemployed Life.  I share tips for resume writing, interviewing, social media and other ideas.  It was a way for me to show that I understood new marketing platforms.
• If you ultimately landed a job, how did you do it? Any useful tips?
I scoured the internet for all kinds of ideas.  In the end I think going on interviews and being prepared is what really did it.  The other amazing tip I read about, and implemented, was the 30-60-90 plan.  I came in to my second round of interviews with a drawn up 30-60-90 plan for myself and my employers.  This made it easier for them to see that I was driven and that from the get go I was ready to jump in and get started.  I also prepared a powerpoint slide showing my social media presence, as social media saviness is what the job called for.
• How should we go about making it easier for the long-term unemployed to find work?
Maybe create a forum in the form of a blog where everyone can share their job searching stories and tips, I’m not sure if you already have something like that.  If you do, I would make it more prominent on the yahoo home page.
I hope my experience helps and below is a direct link to the blog posting from when I finally got a job, it breaks down how many jobs I applied to, how many rejections I got, etc.
What did you do today?  I hope you shared your sotry with Zachary.

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