Looking for work: a report from the front lines of life

I got one of the nicest compliments I have ever received the other day when a friend told me, “If someone like you got let go, I’m worried about myself.” It meant a lot to me, but honestly, I’m a normal guy like anyone else…I just happen to be good at a certain set of skills that don’t fall along traditional lines.

Having said that, I haven’t been overly concerned about finding the next great work adventure because I’ve always took a great deal of care in diversifying my interests. The jack of all trades analogy you hear a lot? I strive to be that guy as I feel it’s better to be good at a lot of stuff than really great at one thing…unless you’re responsible for curing cancer or something. In that case, stick with that, ok?

I’ve been successful every place I’ve gone and have rave reviews for references and people willing to go to bat for me. The only issue? Getting people to listen and finding the daylight to run toward. As you probably know, I’m looking for work in the greater Portland area. While the area houses nearly 1/4 of the state’s population has its employment advantages, the state isn’t exactly known for its diversity of industries. A mixed bag of traditional companies, banks and creative shops, there’s a underswell of smaller businesses that are intriguing but not necessarily hiring.

My early frustrations with the process:

-Where to look: The days of ‘Help Wanted’ in the newspaper have been long dead. There are now a tremendous amount of websites dedicated to providing job listings, in addition to individual company website listings. But for efficiency sake, it’s overwhelming at times because you don’t know where to start first. Luckily, I found Indeed.com, which scours a majority of these sites for your perusal. There are plenty of the ‘WORK AT HOME FOR $100K’ type ads which scream scam, but I’ve found a few gems amidst the rubble of skilled labor and hourly positions.

-The process: I’ve applied for four positions, all of which I’m definitely qualified for. But I have no idea when the respective companies are looking to make a decision, what their process is after they get my information or if they ever received it. I’ve done some follow-ups, but something new I’ve noticed on the job scene: they don’t want you to follow up. I’ve seen enough ‘Please do not call’ warnings out there, but there has got to be a better procedure out there. If I was on the other side in the desk, I’d list when they wanted to start interviewing and decision date at minimum, all with a tag that they reserve the right to change their minds. I realize companies don’t owe it to job seekers to tell them this information, but a little more public facing would be nice. I’m not a stalker…I’m just looking for a chance.

-The distance: This is merely a function of where I physically am, but it’s tough to get out there and look when ‘out there’ is 90 minutes away from where you live. This will change within the next 10 days, but I’m eager to get started to look around and turn over some rocks for opportunities. Since it’s coming on a month (!!!) since I got the news, I feel like I’ve been in neutral for way too long.

And that brings me to a simple statement: being unemployed sucks. I can see on the outside why people would think this lifestyle would be great, but it’s not. I can’t imagine anything worse. My day is waking up at 9:30 am, eating some breakfast while checking some email, scouring the job sites for new postings and then…that’s it. I repeat the job search later on in the day, but it’s a lot of sitting and thinking. I get to write a lot which is nice, but you tend to forget what it’s like to be needed somewhere….to help others with projects and to accomplish something every day.

I don’t feel worthless, but right now, I literally feel like I’m non-existent. I face a battle with motivation everyday and I understand how people just become lazy. If you resign yourself to the fact this is what your life has become, you tend to lose faith and lose hope. My apartment has become a four-room prison which is only fueling my desire to get out of here. This has been amplified by the fact I haven’t had a car all week, as it’s being prettied up after someone decided it needed a key mark down the right side. Thanks jerk.

I also had my first dance with the Unemployment Office last week, something I had never thought of until it was mentioned in passing when this all happened. It’s a humbling feeling walking into that office, seeing others in similar positions and wondering what the hell happened to get you to this low place. You realize that bad things are happening to good people all over the place and ultimately, that is what government-funded public assistance is for. Am I proud I’m going on unemployment? No, but I need a little help right now until everything gets figured out. As that first meeting wrapped up, my sole thought was to get out of this situation as quick as possible. Unfortunately, I think others in that room weren’t as motivated to do so, which is why so many have such an issue with the system.

I’ve always said that everything in life should be taken as a learning experience, no matter what it is. Whenever this macabre ride is over, I know that I’ll take some important life lessons with me that will help me not only understand myself but the plights of others that much better. The night is always darkest before the dawn and I’m going to do my best to see some starts before it breaks.

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