It took me 98 weeks…

 

Jobless spiral

Jobless spiral (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

…to finally land a job.

Yes, you read that right. Ninety-eight (98) weeks, and I finally have a job. My final week on unemployment ended Saturday, December 15, 2012. I have used the entire ninety-nine (99) weeks of benefits available to me.  I am beyond grateful that those benefits were there – it allowed me to continue to pay my bills and live. I sincerely wish I didn’t have to use all of those weeks, but I did. 

California’s economy sucks

The economy in California has not improved, I don’t care what the statistics say. Recent jobless rates put California under 10% for the first time since 2009. Bullshit. The new stats don’t count the people who no longer have benefits, or have given up trying to find work. There are no real opportunities here. Employers have us by the ‘short hairs.’ They want the moon in experience, but are only willing to pay minimum wage or slightly higher. I am not joking.

Congress threw a curveball

It doesn’t help that in February of this year, Congress changed the amount of time that people would be eligible for benefits – from 99 to 72 weeks, effective in May. Some people lost their benefits the first of May. Can you imagine receiving a letter telling you that Congress changed how much time you were given, and you’re no longer eligible (even though you still had benefits remaining)? There were no jobs in February, and there were no jobs in May. People were cut off, just like that. I thought I fell into that category and panicked. Seriously, I absolutely panicked. I also fell into a severe depression around the end of April.  It was only due to a small group of friends that I did not do something stupid. Yes, it was that bad.

New rules and they stink

While I didn’t receive “that” letter, I did receive a different one. There were new rules to follow in order to continue receiving benefits.  One of the rules – set forth by Congress and enforced by California, was that we had to apply to at least three (3) positions a week. Period. You had to keep a record of them in case they asked. You know, provide proof. I have no problem applying when there is a position I am qualified for. However, applying to “any” position to fulfill a requirement is ludicrous. It’s hard enough to get your resume in front of a recruiter or through the automatic processing system for a “real” opportunity. Can you imagine submitting your resume, knowing it won’t be looked at, because you “have” to? What an exercise in futility. On top of that, we were required to login weekly to the California Job website (CalJobs). May I say what a waste of time that website is? It needs a serious overhaul to be of any real use.

I did my best

I went through my files last week. I submitted my resume over 400 times during the past 1-1/2 years. I was invited to 5 or 6 in-person interviews, had a number of phone interviews, landed in the top 2 or 3, but was not offered a position until now.  I’m not sure why that is, although I have my suspicions.  I know my age and experience were a huge hindrance in some cases (it was obvious at the interview). In the beginning, I think it was salary. I don’t have proof, but I also know I’m not alone when it comes to discussing why those of us who are “experienced” can’t seem to find a decent job. I participated in three LinkedIn groups over the course of the past year. The topic was almost identical in those groups — was it our age, our experience, our joblessness, or something else that kept potential employers from looking at us?

Finally, a job offer

Sometime in the past month or so, I decided to apply for positions in San Francisco. That’s about 250 miles away from me (give or take). There are considerably more “real” jobs there. Overall, I applied to 15 positions in San Francisco. Imagine my shock when I received a call from a company expressing interest. I went down there, had one of the best interviews I have ever had, and hoped for the best. At this stage of the game, I was considerably more jaded in my enthusiasm. I had been in this position a few times in the past and was horribly disappointed.

After providing references, filling out paperwork for a background check, and waiting three (3) days for some sort of answer (driving myself and my friends crazy), I was tendered an offer. I wanted to work for this company. The position wasn’t a “job,” it was the position of a lifetime, in my opinion. The company is a well-funded, start-up non-profit, with phenomenal potential. The company culture is fabulous and so are the people.  My position is brand new and carries a ton of responsibility in helping them reach their goals. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me. I’m thoroughly grateful to be once again employed but most of all, wanted.

Oh, I’m also moving to San Francisco (just me), but that is a post for another time.

There’s more to the story

A good friend of mine suggested I write a series of posts outlining exactly what I did over the past 1-1/2 years with regards to this journey. There is so much more to the story than what I’ve written here. Maybe it will help someone, maybe it won’t. It will however, give you a birds-eye view of what many people have been trying to do to re-enter the workforce, since everything came crashing down.

I would love to hear from you. How’s the economy and job situation where you are? Are you unemployed? Have you used up all of your benefits? How long did it take you to finally land a position?

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  2 comments for “It took me 98 weeks…

  1. MorberMarketing
    December 24, 2012 at 3:55 am

    I’m so happy that you found a job Sherree, and even more happy that it is one that you are excited about! You most definitely deserve it.

    I can’t believe that it is still required to ‘prove’ you’re looking for work. The requirement to apply for 3 jobs per week does nothing but create more paper work for all those involved. I’ve been on both sides. It’s insulting to a job seeker who has to ‘prove’ they do want to work and a headache for employers who often get applications from overqualified prospects who fear losing benefits if they don’t fill their quota.

    I really hope you do write more installments of “98 Weeks”, Sherree. You’ve got a lot to say, a great writing style and a lot of people who can’t wait to read it!

    • Sherree Worrell
      December 24, 2012 at 8:35 am

      Hi Jeannine, and thank you so much for the kind words. I’m super excited that 2013 is going to be starting out with a smile!

      Before the changes in February, they had stopped requiring job seekers to list positions they had applied to in the previous two weeks. That was smart. It was the President and Congress that reinstated that, as a push to get people back to work. Well, in order to get back to work, there have to be positions to go to!

      I agree, it’s insulting for the job seeker (and a bit humiliating as well) to apply just to apply, and I feel for the HR folks that now have double the resumes to go through (half of which are from over/under-qualified people). Just doesn’t make sense.

      I haven’t quite figured out a schedule to post the series, but the next installment will be soon.

      All the best to you in 2013.

      ~Sherree

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