Everyone I Know Is Unemployed

by Danielle C. Belton

A while back I was sitting with my father in St. Louis, lamenting the end of my head writer gig with BET’s “Don’t Sleep” and having to retreat back to the homestead when the conversation was interrupted by a phone call from my friend and old NYC roommate. The conversation was short (because my dad and I were going pretty deep and I wanted to get back to it), and afterwards I remarked that my ex-roomie was looking for work and had been out-of-work for a year. Then my father said, “Man, do any of your friends have a job?”

Good question.

July’s unemployment numbers were a touch on the shady side as Mother Jones reveals here. Sure, unemployment is “down,” but actually employment numbers remain flat, meaning a lot of people are still unemployed, but their unemployment insurance ran out or they gave up looking for work. Because unemployment numbers only count people who file and I’ve got a few friends who haven’t seen an unemployment check in a year or more.

All my closest friends (save one) are unemployed, some recently and others going on years without a job. And some are single, others divorced, some have kids, others are child-free, everyone has a degree or two, some have written books, some have worked for some large firms and in high-powered places, but all of us are unemployed, living the unemployed life of filing for unemployment assistance, applying for jobs, waiting for phone calls that never come, going through interviews where you, your friends and everyone else you know is up for the same gig and then none of you get it because it’s about who you know and even though you know everybody you also know no one at the place you just applied.

The only thing we have going for us is that none of us are addled with college debt. Credit card, housing and other kinds of debt, sure. But hey, no student loans. Going to Budget University does have some perks, at least in my case.

Whatever work any of us can get is “freelance.” And “freelance” is great if you can cobble together enough freelance jobs, ghost-writing deals, Macys sweater folding gigs to cover the rent. My friend Amy calls us all “The Cobbler Class.” All of us overly educated trying to put together enough projects and temp jobs to stay above water until the writer’s market changes for the better. All of us trying to create patchwork careers out of nothing because the jobs we used to have either don’t exist anymore or there are so few positions left that it’s a dogfight to get to be senior associate editor at No Name Magazine paying an illustrious $35,000 per year.

I guess some of us could go back to school, learn a new trade, but then there’s that being student debt free part that no one wants to ruin while unemployed. So short of us all marrying rich tomorrow, it’s back to trolling the internet, friends, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mediabistro and all our employed second cousins twice removed for a clue, a tip, a hook-up, a gig, a something that pays sooner rather than later.

Remember when I was a daily reporter in Bakersfield, Calif. for five years until I left ahead of the looming lay-offs. And how I couldn’t appreciate that period of steady employment because I spent most of my 20s fighting depression and Bipolar Disorder. That was the moment, after I left The Californian, I entered the Cobbler Class, 2007, where I took freelance jobs, found jobs that were seasonal, lasted only at places long enough for the non-profit to run out of money and lay me off or long enough for the TV show to make it on air only to not get renewed for a second season. My only steady constant was blacksnob.com and the work it helps generate. Everything else seemed to last for six months, then crumble due to forces beyond my control. And I wondered, is this my new life? At first, it was terrifying, but it’s amazing what you can get used to. Since the economy tanked in 2008-2009 I have had a job for half a year every year, with my unemployed portion of the year supported by freelance work, unemployment insurance and whatever ad revenue I could generate from the blog. Let’s just say, it’s not the most predictable, let alone most stable way to make income.

I’d love, more than anything, to be a writer again somewhere, full-time, like I was in my 20s, still maintaining this blog but to be able pull a reliable, not-going-anywhere, won’t-suddenly-disappear-or-downsize, job. TV show or web site, newspaper or magazine, I’m just tired of the $100 per story freelancer lifestyle. A life where I have an easier time getting on CNN than getting a steady job because the job I always wanted doesn’t really exist anymore. Nobody is looking for a black, femaleDave Barry, writing a syndicated newspaper column because … what newspapers? What columns? Columns are content for the web and they’re $100 per story now, not a full-time gig with benefits.

This blog, arguably, is the best thing that ever happened to me professionally, but at the same time, even when I was updating it six times a day, it wasn’t always profitable. It made some money, but it was really more of a platform, a way for me to communicate, a way for me to do what I loved even if I was stuck in a job or position I hated. The blog was the constant. I knew I could write. I knew I was funny. And I knew I could get readers. But everything else was cobbled together.

Still, at least I (and by proxy my unemployed friends) could cobble. I don’t know what people who only have one skill set do, or people who don’t have experience or don’t have degrees, or who worked at one place for a billion years to get laid off at 55 and find that no one wants to hire anyone older than 45. All of us, every last one of us, believe in our talent and ability. We just don’t believe there’s a market to support it anymore. Or at least not this month. Maybe next month will be better.

  • Elle950

    All I can say is…..DAMN and I can relate. This ish sucks BIG TIME.

  • Theresa K

    I’ve done the laid off thing. It was about a year and a half of applying for every single opening available to interviewing eery week with no fruit being beared on that tree. I was told that I was ver qualified, over educated, over-employed (this was a new one. I guess they were looking fro fresho out of college types who would settle for way low pay). I got a pretty decent severance package from my job of eight years and they covered my COBRA for three months, which was a blessing because I ended up needing emergency surgery a couple of months after my lay-off. I honestly didn’t think I would be unemployedlonger than to months since I had not been unemployed since I got my first job at 21. I was in for a shocker. But through prayer and some hustling I didn’t lose anything (as my om put it). I kept my condo and my car until I was on the verge to lose it all. I decded at a moment’s notice to pick up and move to a city with more prospects. Thank God I was employed within a week!!! It’s less pay tan I am accustomed, but I now have benefits again and I am rebuilding. I have learned that the loger you are unemployed the more difficult it is to gain employment. I don’t know who came up with this rationale, but that seems to be the consensus. Good luck in your search. We don’t realize the impact or enormity of it all util we are in the midst of it.

  • Ask_Me

    Sounds like you and your friends need to humble yourselves and simply find A JOB. I have worked jobs I wasn’t crazy about before finding one I love. That’s the way it usually works.

    My BFF has a master’s degree in finance. Instead of having an office suit in someone’s bank she’s working in the bank’s fraud dept as a fraud analyst. She makes $14.00 an hour. While she’s not happy about the job…she has the ability to make an opportunity from the situation.

    Oh and credit cards and kids have student loan debt beat by miles. I would rather have student loans than high interest credit cards and kids I can’t afford.

  • Malik Hemmans

    Times are hard…it seems like things are only getting worse

  • Kay

    This is becoming increasingly common, even amongst the friends I have who are in jobs that have been thought of as certain. I know individuals who have graduated with degrees in law, business, nursing and are fresh out of med school and still are having trouble. This economy is the worst I’ve ever seen and even my parents told me that they don’t envy this generation coming up. When they were young, times were hard, sure, but there was always SOMETHING. Nowadays, even the telemarketing jobs are hard to come by. That’s insane.

  • Deb

    Most of my friends have jobs but then again I live in a city that is an O&G (oil and gas) and medical hub. Others are back in school like me. I’m actually going back to school for a medical related degree. Even here it’s not easy because more and more people are moving here and in some fields it’s also alot about connections (especially with your college alumnus ugh).

    It’s tough out there and despite the half truths the media tries to present about the economy, things might (ok will *sigh*) not get back to normal for a long time. We all have to adapt as the chickens are coming home to roost for the US and global economy (unemployment stats are horribly worse for people our age in some European countries like Greece and Spain).

    I sincerely wish good luck and strength to you and your friends on your search.

  • CB

    I can relate to every word.

  • The Artist

    “it’s all about who you know…”

    This statement certainly rings true for today’s job market. A little while ago the NY Times featured an article highlighting the “good old boy” and “who you know” social networks. Such networking breeds inequity.

    **I believe the article was titled: How Social Networks Drive Black Unemployment. I was unable to post the link…

  • http://musedmagonline.com Drew-Shane

    I said if anything happens to me like after graduate school, I’ll be going to school to be a barber. I’m over it! I know how it feels to work and save up a few freelance checks and I wasn’t about that life for too long. Most of my friends ARE employed but def not in their field or underpaid.

  • Apple

    Same thing happened to me. After college I found nothing. Never have I ever felt so much despair . I’ve written off the future really…marriage? Who would marry a loser? Kids? How can I afford them when stats say people who have a hard beginning will always be behind. If these years define my future long term im fucked.. I was the girl with thr graes and the job, now I see people I know I hide because what can I say? Hey I’m a nobody now wasting away?? I avoid family events , or gatherings I don’t feel like explaining why I went to a good school, picked a good major and still became nothing …people think something is wrong with you because when they were starting out it was pre 2006 and they got it easy.or because they/someone they knew /relative knew someone and that’s how they got hired. The hopelessness eats away at your soul day after day, how can you shake it now? Never has death look so good as when you feel useless and unemployed.

  • http://gravatar.com/tashman2012 TT

    These jobs don’t want to pay much but because people are desperate, they’re willing to take anything that comes by. Jobs that never used to require a degree now demands all applicants to have one because the college degree is the new high school diploma in my opinion(everyone has one). I am in the same boat. I graduated college last year and have not had a full time or part time job since 2011. I have resorted to craigslist to look for random gigs to scrape up money but I am lucky to have supportive parents. Craigslist is sketchy though but I have had some luck.

  • dirtychai

    I chose a career in the nonprofit sector, so I’ve been laid off every fiscal year since I finished college. This is my third time looking for work and I am not returning to the nonprofit sector. I can’t deal with my job depending on grant funding any longer.
    My city has Workforce Investment Act programs, which I’ll be participating in. Many people that I know have gone through that program and have landed good jobs that utilize their skills.

  • omfg

    former reporter here. i’ve been in the lay offs, more than once. it’s horrible, and it takes a toll on your confidence, not to mention your wallet.

    i left reporting and do corporate communication. but, there have been layoffs there too. i’d rather do corporate communications than be a journalist still – more options and greater pay. you can do internal communications, external, web content stuff, web producer stuff.

    because i see my chosen profession is a little unpredictable, i’ve decided to pursue another degree in a field that has an upward trajectory and one that i could actually do when i retire or become too old in the eyes of others to be in communications. it would actually allow me do my own business and even combine writing.

    i know someone who interviewed for an editor gig at the huffington post; he told me the salary was something like 45,000/year. i was like, wtf. that’s ridiculous.

    i think anyone in this position should broaden their horizons – do communications for a nonprofit or a public entity or try for gigs at an agency.

    good luck. it’s very hard out here, especially if you’re black.

  • stacyaustralia

    Wow this was a powerful post!! This is the 3rd of 4th article I read about people my same age in the same situation. LIke someone else said “The Struggle is Real.” I guess we just keep our heads up and push through.

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    Only when that is your mentality toward life. Your words and thoughts are self-fulfilling prophesies. I advise anyone in a jam and feeling stuck to listen to books about changing your thought patterns, The Secret, Les Brown, Earl Nightingale and all of James Allens audio books (youtube).The down times, when you have free time are the times when you want to start reading and learning more about life. Could be a blessing in disguise if you change your perspective. <3

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    It’a never hopeless. If you want, hit me up on twitter to chat (DM). I’ll tell you a few things I wish someone told me during/post college. <3

  • Malik Hemmans

    Thank you i really appreciate it

  • GlowBelle

    This is my reality too, and it’s terrible. I had to move back home after college (did not want to at all, but had no choice, luckily my parents have been helpful) so that meant going to a city that has mostly manual labor/factory jobs open and those jobs are not opened to overqualified grads. That’s the sucky part. It’s almost punishment for getting an education, not knowing the ‘right people’, not living in the right area for your career choice, and picking the wrong career path esp. a career path that you dreamed of doing.

    Like you I (stupidly) wanted to be a writer during this decline, and I know you have to pay your dues and starve, I expected that as I’ve been doing freelance writing and just writing my butt off. It’s just that a lot of the “writing jobs” I run into are unpaid deals. Everybody wants free labor and after being out of a job for three years, I can’t waste my time with that anymore. I told my Mom the other day I should have skipped college and gone straight to beauty school. I even went to look into going to beauty school this past weekend…and guess what, I can’t even afford the tuition now. Everywhere I’m turning there is a wall. I try to be positive, things could be much much worse, but it’s just a really rough. All I can do is keep writing and pushing because maybe things will get better if I just keep trying and doing. Thanks so much for writing this piece.

  • JazzyOne9254

    I’m a journalist who’s been on medical disability for 14 years.

    Now, my body’s fixed, and ready to work, but there’s no place to work, other than retail or food service. My parents forbade me from working in food service during my teenage/college years. They said they didn’t want me to be in a position of servitude. That sort of stuck with me.

    I’m 55 now. I’ve done some contract PR work, and even have a sole practitioner LLC, but I’m not in a geographic area where that kind of work is in high demand, and I don’t have the money to travel too far from home for clients. I’m too old to get an entry-level job at an agency, and too old to go back to news gathering at entry level, which is exactly what will happen because I’ve been out of the news industry for so long.
    My medium is pretty much dead for news. I was a radio journalist.

    I’m filling my days by researching and authoring a book on a personal medical experience I’ve had, where none exists. I’m sure of it, because when I had the need for it, there was none, and I did my research. It’s a passion-fueled work, not an attempt to make the NYT Bestseller list. If it does, I’ll be happy, but the work is more about helping people, not earning money.

    Most are telling me at 55, I should just sit down, shut up, and collect my SSDI benefits. Though it’s not welfare, and my taxes during my working years were paid into it, that is not acceptable to me.

    I will continue to work on my book, find a publisher, or self-publish if necessary.

    I hope to finish my book by this time next year.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    For me last year, all of my friends were broke. i was the only one with a job and when it came to wanting to go out with friends, guess what?? nobody wants to go because they are broke. The only way to get anyone to go out anywhere is if i offer to pay. i didn’t go anywhere or do anything ( i was 18-2)1 because nobody i knew had a job. not even my boyfriend at the time.

    my job was at a movie theater paing $8/hr. my checks were around $250 -$300 every 2 weeks, i can’t pay for everybody all the time. it got frustrating because it depended on ME if i wanted to get out the house. i wished that for once somebody would spot ME. i payed when it came to my homegirls AND my boyfriend. that got pretty irritating.

    another thing about all of your friends being unemployed is that desperate “i’d do anything” attitude. you talk about how you had a hard day with difficult customers who call you out of your name all day long and you get accused of being ungrateful and they’ll say ” i wouldn’t care! i’d at least be getting paid! i’d do anything to have your job” and ” at least you have a job. don’t complain”….. the second they finally got a job somewhere they started talking the same way i did because now they know what it’s like.

    that’s why i don’t talk to unemployed people about my job frustrations.
    one unemployed friend recently started calling me “greedy” because i wanted a higher paying job. mind you, the job i have is absolute CRAP. i work ONE day a week and because i want a job where i am actually at work, i’m greedy. smh

  • Yahdah

    We are discussing the systems. Please let me know when “WE” are ready to have a dialogue about the core problem. It’s not a coincidence that so many Black people (especially Black males) are unemployed.

  • Yahdah

    systems= symptoms

  • WhatIThink

    #1 reason black folks need to start thinking about creating their own instead of waiting for a job. We have the creativity and there is no reason we can’t.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    hell, eff telemarketing! even jobs at walmart,target, and mcdonalds are hard to get.

    what i DON’T like is people from older generations not understanding that times have changed. some people think that you can still just walk into a store and say ” hey i saw the help wanted sign outside and would like to work” and the manager will say ” COME ON IN TIMMY! you can start tomorrow!” smh

  • Josh

    That’s one of the first things that I learned after getting my first job offer. Merit based competition only starts after you have gotten past relationship gate. I went further applying for jobs for which I was under-qualified for and knew someone than applying for jobs for which I was over-qualified for but knew no one.

    It is not just about knowing the right people, it is also about being associated with the right institutions: colleges, fraternities, and prior employers – all form deep networks that serve their own. I went to a mostly white and rich school and I saw how this worked first hand. I wouldn’t have the jobs that I have today if I didn’t tap into these networks.

    One really powerful affirmative action policy would be government funded networking events for women and minorities.

  • Cha Cha

    Yes, yes, yes! I couldn’t find a job for months after a layoff. I created my own with a business partner, and even though it is a headache at times, I’m still glad I could do it. There is so much talent, education, intelligence, and creativity floating around that it would be beautiful if more of us were creating our own jobs. Of course you need funds, too…

  • Ooh La La

    Ugh, okay! Please tell this to my dad who is pushing 70 years old (still not retired by the way). He swears you can just walk on down to a company with a résumé and they’ll be willing to hire you on the spot. No. Especially when they stop you mid-sentence and tell you to apply online (for a job you’re severely over-qualified for) and they’ll get back to you when they have openings. It’s enough to drive you crazy.

  • Josh

    It is painful and hard, but you have to keep on building you worth and networking. Set aside time to meet friends of friends of friends until you found someone that can get you an “in.” While you wait, hustle like hell at some volunteer place, event if it has nothing to do with your experience or degree, at least you will have someone to vouch for your work ethic when you are asked for recommendations. Plus it will give you a distraction and something to be proud of as you go through headache and heartbreak of unemployment. Go to the library and try to pick up some new skills. Above all, find people and things that I will keep you encouraged, hopeful, and confident.

  • Another Fruit

    I’m going through the same thing. I recently graduated and not having a job is already taking a toll on me. Today I got a call about a sales position and I’ve always said I would never do it because it just doesn’t seem like it’s for me but I’m going to go to this interview and try to sell my ass off and hopefully find a job better suited for me while working a low paying definitely not for me job. (wow horrible run on but whatever)

  • BeG

    please please please don’t ever hide. find new friends or people you can be around if your old ones are judgmental but be in this world. things will get better. please don’t be hopeless. i don’t know you and i am begging you to choose life. our people have walked miles and have gone through unimaginable things. some ancestor of yours made it through the middle passage by the skin of their teeth. for them, choose life. it is precious. peace and good luck.

  • BeG

    Thank you for writing this article. You described my experience so well. I will follow your blog. All I can say, things do get better as they have for me. Put things in perspective and they get better. The worst is not having a support system because people only are there for you when times are good. Hang in there, find friends who are supportive, meditate, exercise, be hopeful and keep believing.

  • http://twitter.com/Author_JGail Teflon Jawn (@Author_JGail)

    I know a few people who thought they weren’t suited for sales, but then come to find out they were naturals, making good money. Sales is basically about knowing how to talk to people, it’s not always about the product. Some people will buy from you just because they like you and you have a good attitude. Congrats and good luck with it, follow me on Twitter if you want and I’ll follow you back to chat/ give you some tips <3

  • Eman

    …..write a novel about your heartbreak.

  • Apple

    I tried that, but making your own job is not as easy as you think. It requires largemcapital (if you’re starting a business) and often is filled with months or even years of instability

  • http://gravatar.com/geenababe geenababe

    When I was in college and graduated I was working a retail job I was determine to get out of that field. I applied for every job within my major and I got some interviews but many letter saying that they went with another candidate. I am now working in a job that is not my major and I am not happy. I am kind of ashamed because I was the first one in my family to complete college and I am not rolling in the dough like I thought I would be. It’s people in my family who didn’t go to college who seem to have more things that I can’t even reach yet. I sometimes ask myself was it really worth it? Now, I am working a job in banking I don’t like waiting to pay off student loan debt. While other family members don’t have those issues and rolling around in things I want.

  • Apple

    Get new friends then

  • ChaCha

    Right, which is why I said you need the funds (and really more than that). It isn’t easy at all. I’ll be honest–the only thing that made it go smoother than normal for me was the fact that I have a partner who is well established and very savvy, and has taught me a lot. (When I was 20, I met this person at my older sister’s workplace, and asked her for professional advice. Who knew that about 10 years later she’d be the one to be my mentor & business partner?). Although not easy, it can be done, but most people need help to be successful.

    Also, I notice that a lot of us do not come from parents who own businesses, and there’s something about coming from a family of business owners. You learn from an early age, and it is more likely that someone in the family will pass the business down to you/partner up with you/invest.

  • kno

    I went to college in hopes of escape the choices (that I had been exposed to) of making a living through factory work, hustling, prostitution, selling street drugs, running lottery houses, selling ‘plates’, being dependent on the government or on a sugar daddy. I was shocked to encounter that many people not only did these things to sustain while attending college, but well after graduating.

    But you can never go wrong with knowing the art of hustle. I wish I would have paid more attention to, sought more advice from, the people who I knew that, not just, made a living from, but thrive, by hustling (doing under the table work) various services/products: plates, lawn mowing, carpentry, etc… They, simply, were great networkers, it turns out.

  • GG

    I agree I think fear is the number one reason that holds us back. Also, not many information on blogs or etc teaching us how to start a business people always say the cookie cutter ish get an education.

  • Theresa K

    Why are you ashamed? Every industry is losing jobs. At least yo’re young. Imagine being 40 y/o and having worked in your industry for years only to be laid off and forced to accept a much lower paying job. Sometimes you have to do what you ve to do. Best believe that yo are in the boat of many (as you can see from the posts). Anyone who an’t understand the whole salary thing or not working in your field thing is an imbicile. I have been out here for a very long time and through my years of working I have known many, many people who have masters degrees yet have been working in jobs well below their talent and out of their field. You have to get that dough!!! Worrying about what other people think will keep you down. These are the same people who are struggling just the same, but they lie to you and everyone around them to appear better. Let me tell you something…trying to keep up that image will have them damn near homeless. Bank that one!!! I’m glad my parents taught us early that many times we have to do a lot of things we don’t want to do until we can get to the point of doing the things we desire to do. You have to pay your bills and take care of yor family if you have one.

  • WhatIThink

    How about hustling by starting a “real” business. Hustling does not mean illegal or petty cash activities. Hustle in its total sense means actively taking advantage of or exploiting ideas, current events, opportunities and trends to make money and wealth.

    Selling slaves was hustling in that sense and for most of American history black folks have been getting hustled out of millions of dollars. And today, the biggest hustlers are the whites, Asians and others moving into black neighborhood and putting in work to start businesses, companies and new communities that all the black so-called hustlers couldn’t or wouldn’t do for themselves.

    There is no advantage to the “hustling” that black folks love to pretend is so great since it is by definition small time, under the table and fragile. And it is certainly not a solution for the new normal where Mexicans and others are taking over the low wage job market, while Asians and other foreigners take over the high end. When it comes to money America is all about the hustle, but unfortunately, like I said before the main ones getting hustled are the black folks who seriously believe they are big time hustlers but in reality are just bottom dollar on a national and global scale.

    Start serious businesses and stop playing this fantasy world game with yourself that you are going to come up on this system with your little under the table hustle because in reality it isn’t going to work. And the fact is that the system wants you under the table to begin with. Out of sight, out of mind and out of money.

  • WhatIThink

    Truth be told a lot of black folks don’t know the language of finance and capital to begin with. And that is the biggest problem facing them in terms of business development, which is funny considering how many go to school for business and finance.

    But the biggest step is to start the conversation and you will find that there are plenty of folks out there in the same boat who can share experiences and ideas that can help overcome obstacles.

    And in my own humble opinion, the biggest thing that you need for success is free: ideas, motivation and research. The ideas about what kind of business, creative energy behind a product or service and then the motivation to get up and put in the work to research and organize a business plan. Coming up with a business plan that is well thought out and includes a good amount of foot work in terms of research and investigation can help a whole lot. For example:

    how much does a name brand franchise cost?
    What would be a good location for my storefront?
    What is the target demographic for my product/service?
    What skills/expertise do I need to operate this business (and do I have it or do I need to employ someone).

    And so on.

  • kno

    Exactly. I wasn’t just referring to illegal or degenerate forms of hustling.

  • GG

    Yes, franchises are great. It cost 15,000 for a subway. Again this knowledge is not going around to black folks about financing or businesses. Even those who made it don’t want to give their “secrets”.

  • lynn

    I am 48 and graduated from nursing school last year. Found work immediately at a local hospital. I work 3 days a week and make $50,000 a year. I’m not rich, but I’m not broke either and the work I do is useful. Feel good about it.

  • GlowBelle

    Did that already. Working on the second.

  • E.M.S.

    I have unsuccessfully been searching for a job half the summer to hold me over until I return to my university to finish my degree this fall. All of my friends who graduated in the spring are jobless. I’m almost in a way relieved I still have one quarter left, hopefully within the next 6 months the market improves and there will more opportunities.

    Everyone has been struggling with employment. Under no circumstance should any us feel ashamed we’re not currently employed. There are things beyond our control preventing us from being hired. All we can do is keep looking and try to stay positive.

  • http://airindanyell.tumblr.com Erin

    Underemployment sucks as well. I’ve been out of school over three years, it’s a blessing that I’ve been able to find work in my field and have been gaining that experience but I would love to be able to afford to go back to school and move out of my parents house at 25. Getting PT hours, no benefits, for full-time, overwork is absolutely no fun. And my friends are all in similar boats… some went back to school full-time, some have jobs that are about to transfer to a whole new location in another state altogether, some have been trying to get into law school for years, others are about to graduate and have already been struggling searching for opportunities. It’s a struggle. Everybody and their mama is applying to the same one job opening, and usually the employers hire ppl they already know, or referrals who may or may not be qualified, or it could be internal transfers. I’m always so happy when people I know actually find the opportunity to move up in this business (journalism/communications/PR) because it is so difficult out here for everyone. I just want partial financial security and the ability to take care of myself in my own place.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    conservative fiscal policies promote unemployment.
    republicans have blocked all stimulus and infra structure programs.

    remove every republican and conservative from political office.

  • Truth Hurts

    Nursing actually sounds like a good option even for people like me who are interested in downshifting their careers. I want more freedom and flexibility, but I also want to still use my education to earn a good income. I would have to return to school, I suppose, since my degrees have nothing to do with nursing.

  • white trolls

    I experienced racism while job hunting but everyone was telling me it was hard for everyone. No. It is harder for blacks I think – well, some blacks. Working now but boy was it hard. Very hard. The small business suggestion: had a friend who had one and she lost everything. You have to have a cushion to sustain a small business. You have to be smart to do it. It can be done. Nice comments here. Good luck to all and prosperity to all of you!

  • Nic

    The stats clearly show that at every socioeconomic and educational level, blacks have been hit a LOT harder by this latest recession. So whether you were an i-banker or an admin, a lot more black people were shown the door, and basically don’t have the connections in many cases to get back in.
    We know that in normal times, there is a huge advantage for the white and privileged to not only get in the door but to basically pole vault over a lot of people into coveted positions.
    And many of the jobs that allowed blacks to enter the middle class over the past 40 years (gov’t jobs, postal jobs, unionized manufacturing jobs) are gone for good and if you worked for an entity that went bankrupt (and are from the era of the pension) your retirement is going to be difficult and lean.
    I have a job and really strong credentials but I know that when looking, in many cases, if a white man or woman was showing up for the interview some of the nos I’ve gotten would have been yesses. And that is just a fact. Not surprisingly, it is sometimes beneficial that some companies (even for higher level jobs) want to do everything by phone so if your name is race neutral that can work to your advantage. And I don’t list any professional affiliations that give any clues to my race either.
    And stats also show that a black male college grad fares the same or worse than a white male high school grad.
    I mean, who hasn’t been told they can’t pivot into a new role or don’t have the right credentials for sometihng even though the person who is sitting in the hiring seat didn’t have those credentials when he got hired?

  • Nic

    Yeah, you aren’t getting into anyone’s company off the street like that. Older people don’t get that. And it’s not like there is some HR office to randomly show up in anyway. Assuming that they aren’t all external contractors, they are scattered all over the place.
    I couldn’t tell you where the HR people in my Fortune 500 company are, so if you do manage to tailgate into a building (and aren’t stopped by security or an employee), good luck with that.
    What a lot of older people think is the way of the world will wind up with you likely getting arrested for trespassing.
    But I’ve had the same conversations with people who started working in the 60′s or 70′s (and who have been retired since the early 90′s) who insist they still know everything about everything.
    Just let them talk. There is no point in arguing. Save your energy for the search and for building out your network (online and in real life).

  • JN

    YESS!!! ALL of this! I hate it when older folk try to tell me to “just get a job.” SHUDDUP, it’s old folk who keep themselves employed past retirement age that are part of the reason it is so hard to find a job.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    LOL i wish things were that easy. it seems like most people are unemployed

  • lynn

    After doing a few pre-reqs (anatomy, microbiology, psychology), you could get a bachelors in nursing in a year if you have a previous bachelors in another subject. Look into “accelerated nursing” programs.

    I love the freedom of nursing. It’s totally flexible — I’m taking a month off next winter to go to South America — and gives me plenty of time to pursue my passion, which is music. Without having to do the starving artist thing. And it’s really great having health insurance again (went a few years without, not fun).

  • mluv

    I have considered nursing and still do. My field is education and I’ve been so blessed to find a job right out of college in my field. Although times are tough and nothing is ever 100% promised or even “permanent”, I feel like now a days people can not do their dream job but a field that is lucrative and practical.

  • aDORKable

    The longest I have ever been unemployed is a month. I graduated college in March 2008, I could only find temp work in my field here and there, but I had been a nanny since my freshman year of college in Chicago. I loved that job (pays very well), and stayed in that field until 2011 where I moved back home to help out my parents. When I moved back I found a job in just a few weeks and then was hired for a second job a few weeks later. I watched people apply for jobs, handed them applications, and knew the chances of a manager keeping their resume and not throwing it in the trash. Some of those people that aren’t getting hired or even an interview is because of the way they look, speak, and/or write on a resume. If you are going to hand your resume in to the manager, or to another employee, dress respectfully. You never know who the manager will be, it could be someone much older or younger than you and they may have guidelines or rules on who they may or may not hire. Sagging pants, backwards caps, tight-fitting dresses, not taking off your sunglasses, the use of slang, coming in with a group of people, and having writing that is barely legible only moves your resume into the trash bin, especially if it involves working with the public.

  • Jeni

    Thank you for this. I’m a freelancer experiencing the ups and downs of my industry. I should send my family a link to this article so that they’ll stop sending me links to random job posts. They don’t get it…this new piecemeal, temp contract-focused economy is BS race to the bottom even for those of us with degrees from respected universities. Praising God for an interview next week, and hope that you get that full-time gig you crave.

  • Trev Love

    Thank you for this post and for the comments. There is no shame in being unemployed these days…there are whole industries that are being shipped overseas. I’m a 40+ woman who has 2 master’s degrees and it took me 2 years to find a job. My husband was laid off for a year and when he was offered a job at almost HALF of what he was making before, he had no choice but to grab it. We have a kid that we need to raise and somehow send to college. Right now, even with both of us working full time, it is still hard to put food on the table. That is life in America right now.

  • Lisa

    Thanks so much for the article recommendation. The article itself and the comments were very enlightening.

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