Unemployment is de rigueur these days. I know that's not breaking news, but it's amazing how many employed people just don't get it.
I've had two clerical job interviews where the interviewer asked me, in a shocked tone, why I hadn't worked in nearly ten months. At this point, I had to omit. Instead of saying, "I just finished my master's degree in May," I said, "It's really tough out there." Amazingly, one of those interviewers told me that her husband had been laid off for a year. The other one told me that her company just had two rounds of lay-offs. So what's with all the shock? What – you have a job and you haven't noticed the rest of the world around you? Probably not.
Most of these interviews have been so trying. I just want a job to pay the bills. I can do any of the work employers require, both professional and non-professional, but until they decide to believe it, I'm at their mercy. Showing up for call-backs and group interviews where I'm the only one who even thought of not wearing shorts and flip-flops has been part of my routine. Once I went through a 35-minute interview with a tour and questions about my salary requirements only to find out, at the end, that the company wasn't actually hiring. They were just looking to establish a group of qualified applicants in case someone quit.
Non-professional jobs aren't the only ones that have put me through my paces. I've had to submit a number of writing and multimedia samples to one employer with whom I've never actually spoken. The good thing about that is that it's given me a chance to re-edit some of my work and keep up with the latest technology. I also haven't had to drive round-trip to his office. Unfortunately, I have no idea how close I am to getting the job. I hear from him about once every two weeks and I keep supplying him with materials.
Another employer I'd never met called me and kept me on the phone for nearly an hour. This particular guy asked me every question under the sun and told me at the end of the call that he actually had two positions open. Prior to calling me, he’d felt that I qualified for one, but lacked the five or more years of job-specific experience he wanted. He also wanted to pay less than $45,000 for a position that required a master's degree. Yes, really $45,000 a year for five-plus years of job-specific experience with a master's degree. He felt I was too qualified for the other job and would end up being bored.
Why did he call me if he sensed all this upon reviewing my resume? I have no idea. The more important question is: why did I stay on the phone with him?
I was unemployed. What else was I going to do?
So, where am I now? A major retailer hired me part-time at a rate that should be criminal. I'm serious. I'm lucky enough to be living with family right now and, therefore, I don't have certain expenses. I don't have a spouse or children. I have no idea how anyone else is making it at minimum wage or even minimum wage plus commission. It is an absolute certainty that without the help of my family, I would be on public assistance in some way, shape, or form.
This may sound strange, but I'm much happier than I was a month ago. No, I'm not using my degrees or working anywhere near my intended career path, but I'm earning a few cents of my own. I don’t have that sinking, suffocating feeling that everything is going to fall out from under me. I don't feel as though I’m so much of a burden anymore.
More importantly, in my past when it's rained, it's poured. Usually when I've found a job, at any level, other employers start calling. We'll see. Something's bound to change. A couple of things already have. I'm probably in breach of an employment contract and, well, someone already decided my thoughts might be interesting enough for you to read.
Guest blogger Anasa D. Sinegal hopes to find a long-term career in teaching or public affairs. She's blogging tales from the job hunting front lines all week on WorkforceDevelopments.com.