I have been unemployed a month. A month isn't so long when you think about it, and I still punch out "Determined to enjoy this time off!!!" with three exclamation points in emails to friends and former colleagues and chirp "It is what it is!" when asked, but, when at home applying to jobs and watching Dr. Oz, it's apparent: I am officially down and out. My special talent is getting an interview, even sometimes a second, and then never the offer. Last week, while on Linkedin, I saw someone update their profile with their new title: a job I interviewed for. Three interviews, really. Usually when you are dismissed and rejected, you don't know who they opted for over you: it's a glorious ignorance. This time I stared at the accepted woman's profile. For ten minutes. I read her accomplishments. My failure was staring me in the face - a rather vibrant face with long chocolate hair and a smug smile (maybe I was reading into this a bit). With my nose stuffy and my cheeks wet, I typed to Matt, "No one wants me!" But he immediately responded with, "I want you." and then "you'll find your match" which made me cry more. Because with every declination, I am disappointed in myself. I'm embarrassed I'm not pulling my household weight.
This post has taken so long to write because I get upset whenever I sit down to talk about my unemployment. I've now had several interviews in which I was declined, and after each "thanks but no thanks" email my ego deflates just a bit more. I've had poor luck, too: even when offered a contract position it was put on indefinite hold due to budgetary constraints. After I told everyone. And when I do interview it's invariably at a company that recently had lay-offs (you know, "strategic reductions") and their staff is over-worked to the tune of 11-hour days and constant travel and I think, "I just can't do this." That happened last week at a company that boasts $12 billion in annual profit, but to what end?
Maybe there are people who milk unemployment, but let me say this: there are many, many more of us who would take a drastic pay cut just to get out of the house and do something. To contribute. To feel like we add value again.