“I don’t know what to do.” “I’ve tried everything and I still can’t find a job.” These are the sentiments millions of Americans are voicing in the wake of prolong unemployment as so many are spending months, even years searching for employment unsuccessfully. Long-term unemployment has affected every demographic from the unskilled laborer and mid-level professional to the executive manager.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the odds of a person who has been out of work for more than 27 weeks finding a new job is one out of ten. With approximately 6.3 million Americans who fall into this category, these statistics offer very little hope to those diligently seeking work. Behind these grim numbers are real people struggling to not lose hope.
During this extraordinary time of massive transition, fear and frustration have become the excruciating new norm for so many who search intensely without success.
Take Kathy, 52, who has worked in food services for the past 20 years and has been unemployed for the past 16 months. She lost her apartment and is staying in a homeless shelter. Kathy is also one of 45.8 million Americans relying on food stamps as the only means of ensuring that she has food to eat. Every day she is sending out resumes, applying for jobs on-line, sometimes applying for as many as twenty jobs in a day, yet she remains unemployed. “It’s tough out there and I don’t know what to do,” Kathy says as she asks herself the question “how did I get here?”
Recently the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report that identified 150 help wanted ads in which employers specifically indicated that the “unemployed need not apply.” This new fact is especially disheartening as there are now jobs that the unemployed are excluded from consideration.
This new wave of extended unemployment is forcing many to completely reevaluate how to make their lives work. Gone are the job titles and regular incomes that so defined who they thought they were.
Stephanie, 47, a college educated marketing professional who has been without employment for close to two years starts each day contemplating her future. With her emergency savings gone, she relies solely on unemployment insurance to pay for rent, car insurance, utilities and food expenses. Gone are the occasional splurges of a dinner out or a movie.
When Stephanie first became unemployed she never thought it would take her long to secure another position. “Finding a job was never difficult for me in the past” says Stephanie. The unsettling condition of the current employment market has left her struggling to figure out what her next step will be. She has had a few interviews but with no job offers she wonders what it will take to land a job now.
Stephanie has not given up hope. In between looking for employment she has used this time to explore other interest and has found that creating affirmation cards a source of inspiration as well as a potential means of generating income.
If you consider that half of the Fortune 500 businesses today were started during a bear market or recession economy, this could be the needed push for those who have been dancing with the thought of someday starting a business.
Still others like Michael, a 37 year old recent MBA graduate, spends time honing his skills by volunteering with a non-profit where he is gaining real life experience that he hopes to be able to use as a selling point to potential employers. He was certain once he got his MBA the job offers would come quickly but he is six months into his job search and the competition is jam packed for too few opportunities. Through his volunteer experience Michael has discovered a passion for social enterprise. He is using his business background to assist a non-profit agency in developing an enterprise to generate revenue for the organization and provide employment for the homeless.
In the midst of joblessness, Michael found purpose using his business skills to uplift those who are suffering the most in our society.
Although unemployment is a time of uncertainty, there are concrete actions that can be taken during this time of transition.
6 Things the Unemployed Can Do:
Volunteer – share your gifts and talents with a nonprofit organization; they always need help and it is a great way to remind yourself that you can still make a
Gain New Information – take a course or enroll in college to ensure your skill set is relevant and marketable.
Entrepreneurial pursuits – create a product or service you can provide that people are willing to purchase.
Intern – internships are no longer just for college students and can be a
great way to gain experience and exposure.
Write a book – with the growing trend of eBooks it cost very little today to become a published author. It can be a great way to enhance your credentials while creating a source of income.
Teach – organizations are always looking for talented individuals to conduct free workshops and seminars and is a great way to demonstrate your expertise.
The old ways of securing employment are no longer effective. The key is to remain engaged. Stay visible. Commit to a daily practice or ritual of uplifting activities that include reading inspirational material, journaling or any self improvement activity that reminds you that your life has a purpose. Those that successfully rebound are those that are able to remain upbeat, creative and open.