There’s one fellow I’ve been following on YouTube named Brian who is in a similar situation like myself — suffering from long-term unemployment and trying to find a solution to the rough situation he’s in. Like myself, he’s resorted to pretty desperate means to try to find a job: YouTube videos, begging for donations on PayPal, you name it, he’s probably long done it with the same results. Nada. Zilch. Big fat zero. I really feel sorry for him because I know what he is going through. Right down to some of the comments he receives from others who simply don’t get it and make wrong assumptions on how he is dealing with his chronic unemployment.
The comments I’m referring to are those who assume he has done his job search wrong, by starting off on the wrong foot by begging or doing the videos, as if he did not try other approaches like actually applying for jobs, going to interviews, networking. This misunderstanding is part of a larger deal the unemployed like myself and Brian have to put up with, where people feel we are not trying, or think we have a sense of entitlement where jobs are magically handed to us. I’ve already covered that broad tarring in both the blog and in my videos so I’m not going to rehash that. What I want to talk about is the stages that job seekers like myself and Brian go through that lead us to take such desperate steps others criticize us for doing.
You have to understand something important. I, Brian, and many millions…yes, millions….of unemployed don’t just go on YouTube and other aspects of social media the moment we are out of work. On the first morning of our unemployment, we wake up and realize we have no place to go for work. Some of us initially welcome it, others feel a little weird, but it’s the first day of something that is the new normal we just have to get used to until we are gainfully employed once more. So, off we go to whatever we feel we need to do in order to find a job.
The first stage of this effort is doing what we remember doing before the last time we were out of work. In my case, I looked up I.T. headhunters and consultants to arrange face-time to get my name out that I am back on the market. I tell my friends and family that if they know anyone out there who is looking for a computer guy, just drop my name in a conversation. I checked out the want ads of the newspaper for any openings for programming or systems administration and also browse a few trade magazines at the library.
Some time after the initial launch of the job-search, two outcomes occur — the job-seeker either finds a job fairly quickly (a situation I remember being in one time after I was out of work) or s/he realizes that what used to work fairly quickly in the past is not working at all. When this happens, the job-seeker will seek assistance and encourage advice from others on how to change the approach of the search in the hope that better results occur. In my case, and no doubt Brian’s as well, I contacted employment assistance centres who advised me to network at job fairs, take workshops for improving the interview process and write better résumés, write up a 30 second elevator speech, create profiles on job banks and apply to jobs online, and so on. I attempted to get funding for retraining under the Second Careers program offered by the province of Ontario, though my funding was not granted.
So, after the job-search machine has been expanded to include other methods and approaches, once again we have two outcomes — the job-seeker finds a job (and lets out a big sigh of relief or a loud woo-hoo of triumph) or s/he does not. At this point, the initial confidence one has of finding work begins to wane. A feeling of uncertainty grows. The job-seeker starts to ask himself/herself a lot of questions. What’s going on? It’s been days/weeks/months and I’m still out of work. What am I doing wrong? Do I have enough money for next month’s rent or mortgage payment? Janey needs braces..will I have enough to cover the dental costs? In my case, I remember estimating a worst-case scenario, which I never believed would happen to me, Mr. Always-In-Demand Computer Guy, of being out of work for six months and my unemployment situation was getting close to a year.
As time goes on, those still out of work begin to realize the gravity of their situation. They begin to realize just how much things cost. They understand time is now starting to run out, but they’re not quite at the panic point. Yet. They re-evaluate their expenses and try to find ways to raise some kind of revenue. In my case, I sold things, started shopping a lot smarter, cut out things like my cable, my cell phone, jaunts to the movie-theatres with my friends. I expanded my job-search outside my I.T. career track in the hope to land some sort of work. I made videos on YouTube, started a blog, and applied for jobs that I would never consider doing like working at Wal-Mart or picking up dog droppings at a park.
So now the unemployment situation is extending into months, perhaps years. There will come a moment where the job-seeker has tried everything s/he can think of, and nothing is working. A wall is hit. There are no more solutions one can think of and nightmare scenarios not previously considered now become more a possibility. In my case, since I lived alone and was the sole income earner in my apartment, eviction was my nightmare scenario and for a time I had no place to go. I remember becoming very panicked and actually went on Begslist, YouTube and Twitter to beg for help. Brian did the same thing. So have many others in this new economy we now live in. The videos are there, just watch them. The blogs and posts on Facebook and Twitter are there, just read them.
The pleas for assistance the unemployed make on social media that some people snidely deride are the end result of a long and painful downward slide from stability and comfort to uncertainty and hopelessness. It is the last ditch attempt to turn a bad situation around before it’s too late. A desperate measure it might seem, but certainly not deserving to measure us in such an unfair and inaccurate way.
We may have chosen to air our desperation in public, but we didn’t ask to be in the situation of being forced to do so in the first place.
Thanks for reading.