Sunday, January 4, 2009

View from the unemployment queue

I'm thinking about sending this to the newspaper, they sometimes ask locals to post 'viewpoints'. Any comments (offered gently) would be appreciated.

View from the Unemployment queue.

Ok, not really, I’m not literally standing in line for any benefits. But that’s not because I don’t want benefits, it’s just the way I became unemployed that matters.

First a timeline:

Last April I accepted a management position within driving distance of home. I really thought I was ready, and quit a very good secure job also within driving distance of home, in the opposite direction. However, when I got into the new position, I found that the position had really been misrepresented to me, and the position was in a place with very shaky foundations, in terms of budget and organizationally. It became quickly apparent that I would not last long, and before I had finished half my probationary period, we parted ways. However, since I took the offered option of resigning with dignity and a full months pay plus two months of health benefits, I forfeited my option of unemployment benefits.

That was the middle of September. I have been looking for a job ever since. My chosen profession is as a Librarian, and I have the MLIS degree to go with that (as well as a Masters in Education) plus twelve years experience. However, with the budget crisis, no library positions, including part-time desk coverage, are being filled at this time. That includes most out-of-state positions as well. So far, the only responses I have received being postcards either stating the positions have been filled internally or are going unfilled due to budget cuts. Some Florida Human Resources missives have declared that they are waiting until after the Special Session to make staffing decisions.

So, I began looking further a field, including a full day spent going from store to store in both malls, from Abercrombie to Zales, only to be told, “Sorry, we are not even hiring for the holidays this year, but you can fill out an application online. We don’t do paper applications any more.”

I joined on-line job hunt agencies, such as Monster and CareerBuilder. The main reaction from this course: my email basket is now filling up with ‘work at home’ scam offers. “You can make $5,000 a month filling out envelopes!” Yeah, Right.

I must have filled out three dozen on-line and paper applications altogether. The results so far: No calls, no emails, no postcards -- “The sound of silence.”

Finally, I was offered an interview in Panama City. I gleefully went over for the interview, and began searching for a place to live, in case I was offered the position. What a shock! The advertised one-bedroom apartments for $550 were booked with waiting lists, the $700 - $950 were way out of reach, and anything in between, well, they’d have to pay the roaches to live there. How about a mobile home? Try $36,000 for the smallest two bedroom, with no vacancies in the parks to put it in! Buying a home? Let's just say that I don’t think news of the bursting housing bubble has reached Panama City. So, cross-off “moving to a new town for a job” from the list.

Seriously, right now I would take a job as a secretary just to pay the bills. But those applications have yielded no results either. My list of positions applied for includes, but is not limited to:

Teacher’s aid
Office assistant/receptionist
Flex Press operator (what’s that? I have no idea, but they train!)
‘Merchandise replenishment personnel’ (new-speak for ‘stock boy’)
Park ranger education specialist (give programs to visitors) but it's in the Smokey Mountains. If they provide cheap housing, I'll take it!

and many others along this line. If it’s advertised, I’ve applied for it.

Frankly, it does not bode well. I have a family to support, you know. I feel like a wide receiver (hey, wide is NOT a physical description here!) yelling to the employer quarterback: “I’m open! Hit me!”

What’s an able-bodied guy have to do to get a job here?


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