I Can’t Find a Job in This Economy!

I get a lot of emails from people with the above statement, usually followed by some sort of plea for help. I have a lot of sympathy for their situation. I can’t even imagine how painful it would be to not have a steady income, have no luck finding work, and have others depending on you to provide an income.

Whenever I see an email like this, though, I usually respond with many of the same points (often tailored to a specific situation, of course, but the ideas are constant). What follows are the things I almost always tell people who are having difficulty finding work right now.

First of all, don’t waste another second passing blame for this situation. Yes, the economy isn’t particularly strong. Yes, depending on your political beliefs, it’s all the Republican Party’s or the Democratic Party’s fault. Yes, the president (Bush or Obama, choose one based on your political ideas) is/was a horrible individual who is trying/has tried to destroy the country.

Guess what? All of that time and energy spent thinking about or fretting about who or what to blame only reduces your own chances of finding work. You have an immediate problem on your plate that needs a solution. That solution requires all of your energy and your focus, and burning away that energy and focus by passing blame off to politicians or government or employers or former coworkers just takes away from what you need to be doing right now. Save that spitfire for the next election cycle, when you’ve got a good job. If you’re unemployed, don’t waste your energy on it – spend it on getting employed.

Remember, no one owes you anything. People don’t “deserve” things, they earn them.

The same thing goes for activities you do that help you “unwind” or “escape.” So often, I hear from people who say things like “I can’t find anything, so I spend all day at home surfing the ‘net.”

Yes, it’s good to relax a bit, but treat your unemployment like it’s a job and spend at least forty hours a week specifically looking for work. If you need to unwind, do it in the evenings. I like to unwind with a glass of wine and a game – maybe for you it’s a television show or a movie or surfing the ‘net. However, I also know that I should only be unwinding if I have something to unwind from.

So, how can you spend that time searching for a job?

One big thing you need to do is expand your search horizons in several different directions. You need to look for jobs outside of your local area and accept that you may need to move to find work. Look nationally – and even internationally – for jobs that match the skills you bring to the table.

Similarly, you may have to seek out a job that’s “beneath you.” No job is “beneath you.” I always think of that snippet from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when I hear that someone won’t apply for a job that’s “beneath” them…

Clark: “How can they have nothing for their children?”
Ellen: “Well, he’s been out of work for close to seven years.”
Clark: “In seven years, he couldn’t find a job?”
Ellen: “Catherine says he’s been holding out for a management position.”

If it came down to a choice between picking vegetables for minimum wage or losing the house my children have lived in since they were born, I’d pick green beans from sunup to sundown, go home, and work on job applications. The same goes for flipping burgers in the kitchen at McDonalds or any other job that might be “beneath” me – because, frankly, they’re not.

At the same time, you should always be searching for jobs in your field of expertise. Start by polishing that resume until it shines. Go over it and over it again. Have friends review it. Submit it to resume experts – even bloggers who might use it for a post on their site. Get it perfect – and make sure it highlights the best of you very clearly, so that you stand out.

You should also keep your skills sharp and, at the same time, promote yourself. How do you do that? Get involved in the community of people online. Dig into projects that utilize your skills. Never stop learning new things. Open a Twitter account and join in the conversation in your field (and link to your Twitter feed everywhere you can so that it comes up first when people Google you). This is not only part of the job hunt, it’s part of what will make you successful in your field.

The final key piece of advice? Don’t give up. Never, ever stop searching for the perfect job for you. Yes, you might find yourself working in something that you don’t believe matches your skills, but that doesn’t mean you don’t spend your spare time getting yourself ready to find that perfect job.

Good luck.

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Ilya K says:

    I have a 3.81 MS in statistics, and a 3.32 in undergraduate engineering (not the programming kind), and have done the above, and…no dice. Why? No experience. Yep, looking for the first opportunity.

    Any *other* good advice?

  2. Erin Q. says:

    It’s a really terrible situation though if you apply to office jobs you’re qualified for, but also to food service, retail, hospitality, housekeeping and other minimum wage or slightly above jobs–and no one will hire you. I live in a large city and it always seems like there is another person who has as much need for employment, if not more, who is better suited for the same position. Relocation is not an option for me due to family obligations. It’s like throwing things into a black hole.

  3. Laura says:

    For the un- and underemployed in San Francisco and Boston, there’s new “service networking” site TaskRabbit.com. If approved as a TaskRabbit “Runner,” the site will connect you with people in your local community who need odd jobs done. Because of the safety built into the site (real identities, background checks, etc.), users can trust tasks to TaskRabbit that they would never dream of posting on Craigslist either because they are in the home or because they require fronting money (such as for grocery delivery). Here are a great articles about how the site is taking lemons and making lemonade:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/abraham/detail?entry_id=69461
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2010/0805/TaskRabbit-new-part-time-work-for-people-without-jobs
    http://deals.venturebeat.com/2010/08/25/taskrabbit-gets-850k-to-cross-errands-off-your-to-do-list-3/

    If anyone’s interested in trying the site as a sender, use my Runner code, PAL18755, for $10 off your first task. It’s really a fantastic and potentially life-changing service for those on both sides of the transaction.

  4. Sarai says:

    I really needed to read this right now, thank you for posting!

  5. Esteban says:

    I agree with you. Times are tough, but using the advice you give will help. I have been there, and I thankful I have a job. When we are unemployed we want someone to tell us something to feel good. We also need for someone to give us the hard truth / great advice.

  6. Mary says:

    Not finding a job in my field has been the story of my life for the past 2 years, from when I graduated college with a Bachelors in Geography and a minor in Web Design, until now. I’ve learned so much since then, how the job interviewing process goes to how you really need to stay motivated in everything you do in life, from work to school to people. I’ve joined Linkedin and participated in group discussions, have filled out tons of applications, have had many interviews, some of which I may have got the job if it wasn’t for someone always the better candidate, worked two internships and gained experience, even worked some jobs “beneath me” (truss manufacturing plant, office assistant to a vacuum sales company, call center) and now I’m continuing school to gain/sharpen some programming skills. I’ve learned to keep my eye on the prize (that being a full-time permanent job in my field with benefits) and work hard. “No one owes you anything” is so true. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that in college. Glad I am now.

    I feel my experiences, both positive and negative, have now shaped me to see who I am, what I want in life, and where I need to go from here.

  7. dan says:

    I agree 100%. Every day I can look at the classified ads and find hundreds of jobs that I could get if I had to.

    The problem is that people forgot about humility. They forgot about the old “paying your dues”. It’s not demeaning to take a job that puts food on your table and provides you with money to pay the rent.

    It is demeaning to feel entitled.

  8. valleycat1 says:

    The U.N. runs an online volunteer site, which might be a useful place for people with computer, teaching, writing, & other technical skills to find volunteer work in their area of interest. (In most cases you do the work from home although the employers are world-wide.)

    I’d add that job seeking locally is more than just about checking the newspaper or online job banks. Many local businesses don’t advertise beyond a notice in the window, if that much. Plus, in some fields you only see job openings on or via the employers’ website – education, city/county government, retail stores, nonprofit organizations, etc. are only a few examples.

  9. I’ll gladly work at McDonald’s if I have to! Just like the old days. No job is beneath me.

    Then again, we do have 99 weeks of unemployment insurance!

  10. Johanna says:

    So, if everyone who’s unemployed right now followed all of these suggestions, would that make enough jobs for all of them magically appear? I do not see how it would. (dan, you might try calling one or two of the employers who place those classified ads to see how many people applied for the job they listed.)

    If finding a job were as easy as looking in the classified ads, or making your resume a little prettier, or trying a little harder, or listening to a pep talk or two, don’t you think people would have figured that out on their own?

    There are so many people, it seems to me, who would just love to believe that everyone who is unemployed right now is lazy, or spoiled, or holding out for a management position, or in need of a lecture like a naughty teenager. Articles like this one only perpetuate that idea. But if it were true, how could such a large chunk of the population become so lazy and spoiled all at once?

    “But don’t people looking for work just need some constructive advice?” No, I don’t think they do. At least not from me, or you, or anyone else who’s never actually been in the unfortunate position of needing to find a job at a time of ~10% unemployment. And they don’t need to be advised of things that they’ve probably heard many, many times already. And they don’t need advice of the form “It’s all your fault that you can’t find a job, so stop whining and work harder.”

  11. I totally disagree. Sitting at the computer all day and sending resumes into space isn’t going to bring jobs to you.

    You need to actually leave the house and go into the world and talk to actual people, including people you feel ashamed to talk to after being fired. Forget an online group or Twitter, go to a trade group or your place of worship or a coffee shop. Heck, I got a tip at a bar once. I’ve never gotten much help online.

    There are jobs, but they aren’t going to magically come down the tubes of the interwebs.

  12. Carol@inthetrenches says:

    I think Trent’s point above all was don’t give up and also be sure to explore ALL your options. I agree 100%. I have known many women who have manned the home while their husbands had to find employment in other locations. When times got better they were able to look at other options. “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

  13. drj says:

    Yes. A friend of ours has taken a manual labor job in a meat-packing plant while continuing to look for a job in his field, graphic design. He hates his new job, but he and his wife have bills to pay.

  14. Jem says:

    “People don’t deserve things, they earn them.”

    Actually no, people do deserve things. Everyone deserves a decent home. I’m not talking about living in the lap of luxury, but just a clean, safe place to live. No one in the world should be worrying that they are going to end up living on the street. Everyone deserves access to a decent job. In your article, you mention that you would happily pick green beans for minimum wage to save your family, and I laughed out loud. I would say that less than 1% of vegetable pickers on American farms are paid minimum wage. Should they be? No question, because even on the minimum wage they would probably have to hold down two jobs just to struggle along. These are jobs held by desperate people and many are happy to take advantage of their desperate situations*. Everyone deserves access to health care. Saying that this is something people earn, implies that they have to earn the right not to die. No one should lose everything because they had the misfortune to get cancer or to get hit by a bus.

    There are plenty of things that people do deserve if we look on our fellow human beings with compassion and not contempt. I think it is convenient for people to pretend that everyone who can’t find a job is just lazy or not willing to start at the bottom; to imagine that the majority of people don’t really need social services help. I think people are so focused on others’ “earning” the things they already have, because they feel like they earned them, and they think that means they couldn’t be taken away.

    I consider myself incredibly lucky to be in the position I’m in. I know that I made a lot of good decisions, but I also know that I had a lot of opportunities that others don’t have. There are a lot of things people can do to improve their lives/find a job/etc. And you’re right, sitting around asking why things are the way they are, without taking any action, doesn’t help anything. But I think the majority of people are doing a lot more than you realize, a lot more than you have ever had to do, and it really doesn’t sit well with me to hear this kind of advice that basically assumes people aren’t really trying.

    *Obviously there are exceptions to this situation, but they are not the majority.

  15. Lynne says:

    A certain amount of political reality is beneficial. It doesn’t change the immediate economic reality but it may help us as we attempt to move forward. My husband and I *both* got laid off almost 2 years ago… He voted for Obama, I did not. I realize that this depression will not improve until after November (at the earliest), once the Republicans take back the House (and the Senate) because the current administration is clueless. And no, I don’t expect them to create jobs but they have made *businesses* afraid to create jobs.

    I have been on numerous interviews and have gotten some job offers, only to have the jobs put on hold. I have worked in IT for over 20 years and have seen the IT world struggle through a few recessions. This one is very different.

  16. Allie says:

    I think most of these tips are okay, but, I would take issue with a few little things. I figure Trent knew this was going to be a somewhat controversial post, though, because he’s challenging a number of things people feel very strongly about.

    Whether or not something is owed to you or you deserve it I think is a very subjective question. I don’t think people should have to earn the ability to have a family, feed their children, have a roof over their heads, etc. While BETTER things may come from working hard to excel in one’s career (bigger houses, more luxury items, better food) I think there has to be a baseline that everyone gets. Otherwise it just ends up to more separation between the haves and have nots. Anyway, I know that’s an ideological thing and many will disagree, but that’s my opinion on that part.

    Secondly, while I do know people who refuse to do a job that they feel is beneath them, many of these jobs don’t pay anywhere near enough to support a family with pre-existing financial obligations. If you have a mortgage, a car, children to feed, healthcare to pay for, etc., some jobs simply aren’t worth your time. Having $500 when you need $2000 to get by might help a little bit, but ultimately you’re still going to be screwed so it isn’t much better than being unemployed. That’s also true when people have unemployment compensation that pays more than any minimum wage jobs they could get.

    Anyway, just wanted to throw my $0.02 in there. I don’t necessarily have a solution for those problems, but I feel that there has to be discussion on what can be done to lessen the impact of economic downturn, rather than try to encourage people to just work within the system that screwed them over in the first place.

    Thankfully, Trent’s blog talks a lot about things people can do to minimize their expenses, their liabilities, and all those other things that may their paychecks go not as far. I just wish more discussion had been placed on those things than on sucking it up and working harder because you have to earn the privilege of not suffering.

  17. Kevin says:

    Not a single word about networking?

  18. It’s difficult but not impossible. I agree with dogatemyfinance. Whether in a good economy or bad, a lot of people expect jobs to come to them. Going out and actively looking hard will set you apart from most, no matter what the state of the economy is.

  19. Johanna says:

    And another thing: “Save the spitfire for the next election cycle”? Here in the US, we’re in the middle of an election season *right now*, with elections for Congress and Senate coming up in just two months. Surely, since you’re such a political junkie, you must have noticed this?

  20. dan says:

    I’ll take a day off from my job, and go “job hunting”, i’ll blog it, and you’ll see … i can get several jobs just like that.

  21. Tamarah says:

    Along with being humble and taking what you can get you should also quickly change your lifestyle. My family has gone thru this a few times and we have always made it by cooking inexpensive “pantry recipes” and buying what’s on sale and couponing.

  22. Kat says:

    Johanna, Trent’s post wasn’t about reaching 0% unemployment, it was about how each individual who is saying they don’t have a job can increase their chance of getting one. The person who follows Trent’s advice, and I daresay that the majority of job seekers are not spending 40 hours a week doing things to find a job, I certianly didn’t, is more likely to get a job than the person who does not.

    And no, I don’t think people have “figured it out on their own.” I know people who refuse to go to industry networking events because they are “boring” and then have been unemployed for a long time. I know people who just graduated from college and expected 6 figure jobs to be knocking on their door just because they majored in finance, so won’t take entry level jobs. I know people who refuse to volunteer in their field to keep getting experience while looking, and then have excess time in their days. I know people who are too proud to ask their friends and busines contacts or church group if they know of any openings because they don’t want to call attention to having been fired.

    No, I don’t think job seekers today are lazy or spoiled, but I think a lot are not adapting to the new economy and job market, just like a lot of people are not adapting to the new housing market…

  23. Sheila says:

    #5 Lynne, when you say “A certain amount of political reality is beneficial,” what you really mean to say is “A certain amount of MY political reality is beneficial.” What you wrote may be YOUR political reality, but it certainly isn’t mine. I used the term “clueless” for eight long years.

  24. Stephanie says:

    While I mostly agree with this post, there are other factors that Trent can’t list, because he’d never do anything else. I would LOVE to look outside of my local area for a job. That isn’t an option for me because my husband is military, so his is the job we move with, and I have to work around this. I have portable job skills in office administration, so I should be able to find a job most anywhere, right? The only problem is that we are stationed in a location where there is a language barrier. Since I am not bilingual, that cuts out a lot of the normal jobs I would apply for. I do have a part time job that I work one maybe two days a week at, so in that, I am lucky, but it is not a job within my “normal” skill set. I’ve even applied for retail and not been hired because of the language barrier. What advice is applicable here? (Besides the obvious “learn the language”.)

  25. Ryan says:

    @Sheila,

    You just hit the nail on the head.

    Because we all know that a Republican congress will end unemployment overnight.

    Hey, wait a minute, aren’t they the same party that wanted to cut off unemployment benefits?

    As Trent said, complaining about politics isn’t going to help you find a job.

  26. Bill says:

    OK, based on your suggestions, I now have following schedule:

    * 9-5 look for job
    * 6-midnight – work at McDonald’s ($8.40/hr. = $50.40 gross * 6 days – McDonald’s only allows 36 hrs weekly max $302.40 weekly

    A

  27. Gretchen says:

    So only employed people should care about politics?

    I’m also not sure how a job picking green beans pays the bills. Not to mention you could be fighting over many other potentional green bean pickers.

  28. Bill says:

    OK, based on your suggestions, I now have developed the following schedule:

    * 9-5 look for job
    * 6-midnight – work at McDonald’s ($8.40/hr. = $50.40 gross * 6 days – McDonald’s only allows 36 hrs weekly max $302.40 weekly)

    As a widowed parent of 2, my income would be $15k yearly (below the poverty line). Let’s not include babysitting expenses.

    Did I mention that I used to make 80k a year in IT and I have a bachelor’s?

    We’re looking at a sea change folks:

    * we’re now competing with India and China (and others) for jobs
    * 10% unemployment doesn’t mean that everyone without a job is just unresourceful, it MAY just mean that there’s a surfeit of jobs, no matter how resourceful)
    * let’s also factor a lack of mobility for folks – are they going to move to the job, when they don’t have the means to get there?

    This isn’t simply a politcal issue – Obama is riding the wave that was generated a long time ago (as was Bush). If only our politicians had that kind of mastery over macro-economic issues.

    Remember Greenspan’s comments about monetary policy (you know, Alan Greenspan? the Fed chairman under presidents, both Republican and Democratic) and how he was shocked that markets didn’t behave rationally, and how they couldn’t be controlled by PhD economists in Washington?

    Trent, your suggestions are condescending to the good folks who work their butts off to keep body and soul together. They are not looking for your helpful maxims. They need compassion, and babysitters – why don’t you offer up some babysitting help for one of these folks, and do something practical instead of aggrandizing.

    Living in the real world,

    Bill

  29. Bill says:

    OK, based on your suggestions, I now have developed the following schedule:

    * 9-5 look for job
    * 6-midnight – work at McDonald’s ($8.40/hr. = $50.40 gross * 6 days – McDonald’s only allows 36 hrs weekly max $302.40 weekly)

    As a widowed parent of 2, my income would be $15k yearly (below the poverty line). Let’s not include babysitting expenses.

    Did I mention that I used to make 80k a year in IT and I have a bachelor’s?

    We’re looking at a sea change folks:

    * we’re now competing with India and China (and others) for jobs
    * 10% unemployment doesn’t mean that everyone without a job is just unresourceful, it MAY just mean that there’s not a surfeit of jobs, no matter how resourceful)
    * let’s also factor a lack of mobility for folks – are they going to move to the job, when they don’t have the means to get there?

    This isn’t simply a politcal issue – Obama is riding the wave that was generated a long time ago (as was Bush). If only our politicians had that kind of mastery over macro-economic issues.

    Remember Greenspan’s comments about monetary policy (you know, Alan Greenspan? the Fed chairman under presidents, both Republican and Democratic) and how he was shocked that markets didn’t behave rationally, and how they couldn’t be controlled by PhD economists in Washington?

    Trent, your suggestions are condescending to the good folks who work their butts off to keep body and soul together. They are not looking for your helpful maxims. They need compassion, and babysitters – why don’t you offer up some babysitting help for one of these folks, and do something practical instead of aggrandizing.

    Living in the real world,

    Bill

  30. triLcat says:

    Stephanie – you’d be surprised what you can find online, writing articles for various sites, for example. A lot of those jobs don’t pay amazingly, but for the last three years, I was working from home and making about $10/hour. The work was boring and monotonous, but it meant that I got to be home with my children until the first was 15 months and the second was 8 months, and when the second needed to be home for days and days at a time (he’s 19 months and has had surgery 4 times…), I didn’t have a boss breathing down my neck telling me I need to be in the office. I took a bit of a hit on the salary and had to work late at night and while my kids were napping, but the point remains – there is such a possibility.

    Another option on an army base is watching other people’s kids. It’s not necessarily a great option for everyone, but before I had kids, I used to babysit, and my s-i-l used to watch another child her son’s age 1-2 days a week.

    Obviously, you should be looking for any civilian jobs on post, as I know they do hire civilians at the PX, Commissary, bowling alley, pool, officer’s club, etc. Plus back in my dad’s day (he retired in ’90 so it’s been a while), some of the office staff was non-military even on base. I assume those jobs are in high demand, but there’s also a high turnover.

    Good luck! (Born in Germany)

  31. spaces says:

    Stephanie: Teach your language to those who only speak the other. Also start learning the other language in your city. If you could get some basic conversation down, and monetary terms, you could show prospective employers that you have some basic knowledge and you’re ambitious and graceful enough to be working to help yourself.

    My ancedata: A few months ago I landed a paid blogging gig in my field. The experience I used to get the job was writing SEO type articles on Amazon Turk. The AT work paid jack diddly crap, but it gave me a clue and some creds that were critical to bring in the blogging job. And the blogging job pays pretty well per hour and is steady work. So, Spaces says: Think outside the box.

  32. A. says:

    not to mention those who are turned down for jobs “beneath them” because employers take one look at their master’s degree and deem them a flight risk…

    Those are the friends i don’t know what to suggest to. I do have a few recent college graduate friends who really aren’t trying hard enough – they’re likely to be able to get the more basic jobs without being thought over qualified – but its my friends with graduate degrees who are really having the most problems finding jobs.

  33. kristine says:

    A Note about taking “any job”. If the full time job is finding a NEW job that can actually pay the mortgage, then taking a job that pays near minimum, working 40 hours a week, coming home too exhausted to lift a finger, only to have the exact amount you earned deducted from your unemployment insurance, makes no sense at all. It is working at a detriment to long term success.

    I cannot imagine a single mortgage that would be covered by low-pay manual wages.

    I do not think any work is beneath anyone at all. An honest days work is to be respected. But taking “anything” when you still have unemployment benefits, makes no financial sense. Spec work in your field makes more sense, and it can lead to other connections.

    Better to use the unemployment for what it is for- to cover the gap between suitable jobs. By suitable, I mean jobs that utilize your experience, education, and talent.

    As a taxpayer- if I gave a student loan to someone to be a professional, I want to see that investment pay off,not just in the interest paid back, but in the “skilled workforce in our country” investment.

  34. Johanna says:

    Another thought on taking “any job”: The unemployment rate is worse among people with less education than among people with more. So I really doubt that it would be any easier for someone like, say, Trent, who has a college degree, to find a job picking green beans or flipping burgers than it would be for him to find a job in his field.

    And another thought on politics: If you have strong political opinions and a lot of time on your hands, why not volunteer for the political candidate or cause of your choice? Complaining about politics might not get you a job, but channelling that energy productively could (if your political opinions are fact-based) help bring about an environment with more jobs for everyone.

  35. HonestB says:

    At a certain point, looking harder for work isn’t going to make work appear. There are fewer jobs in the economy than there are people to do them. It’s not like everyone would be working if only they’d get over themselves and work low-paying jobs – there aren’t enough of those, either. These are facts that are easily verifiable. And yes, the situation is probably only solvable through politics, not individual effort. I know the urge is always to try to sound non-partisan, but it’s kind of hard when your livelihood is on the line, and it actually is.

    Trent, generally I think you’ve got pretty good advice but this post struck me as callous and not particularly useful. It may be that you’ve never been through a particularly long bout of unemployment, but I would hope for a little more understanding and a little more thought from you. Telling unemployed people to look for jobs isn’t useful advice.

  36. Systemizer says:

    - “Yes, it’s good to relax a bit, but treat your unemployment like it’s a job and spend at least forty hours a week specifically looking for work”

    Instead of setting the objective as:
    - number of hours per week

    My experience has taught me that setting an objective using a point system works best:

    - decision-maker identified (1 point per lead)
    - number of cold calls (2 points per dial)
    - number of warm calls (2 points per dial)
    - meeting/interview booked (5 points)
    - informational meeting held (10 points)
    - formal interview held (15 points)
    - thank you note sent (5 points)
    - resume sent/submitted (5 points)

    I would strive for a modest 150 points per week, and reward myself for exceeding my objective.

    - “Similarly, you may have to seek out a job that’s ‘beneath you.’”

    Experts say it takes 70-80 meetings/interviews to land an offer. I’d suggest only seeking something beneath you after you’ve surpassed that number.

    - “Start by polishing that resume until it shines. Go over it and over it again. Have friends review it.”

    If your resume is opening doors quit fussing over it. Showing a resume that is opening doors to a friend may in fact be counter-productive.

    - “Get involved in the community of people online. Dig into projects that utilize your skills. Never stop learning new things.”

    Whatever. Just make sure the gap on your resume doesn’t exceed x number of months (use your judgement).

    And @#7 Kevin “Not a single word about networking?”

    Good point. How did Gemond put it? “Clueless, Trent, you are clueless.”

  37. Johanna says:

    @Kat: I realize that that was what Trent was trying to say, at least ostensibly. But he’s saying it in an environment where a lot of people really are saying that unemployed people are all spoiled and lazy, and where it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to say those things. So he needs to own the context here.

    It’s an interesting analogy you make to the housing market. I would say that for most homeowners, “adapting to the new housing market” means realizing and accepting that 2006-level values are not coming back – at least, not for a long, long time. What would you say the analogous realization about the employment market would be?

  38. lc says:

    Republi-cant faulty view:
    “Unemployed people are all spoiled and lazy.” (get off the couch and get a job, you lazy bum)

    Reality: There are far fewer jobs around, and those available pay 20-30 percent less than the year before! Work more, earn less – ride the tread mill.

    That’s *if* you are lucky enough to find this low-paying job.

    Moral of the story: Bag groceries and have fun. Life is too short.

  39. Kat says:

    Realizing that the old ways of getting a job are not coming back, at least for a long, long time.

    That graduating college with a degree in finance means you will immediately be making 6 figures (not common anymore, was quite common (at least in my metro area) before). That having any degree at all means that you can find some sort of professional work (“useless” degrees at least used to be able to get admin level jobs, now even those are more competitive). That you have job stability if you do a good job (not necessarily, you could be a great employee and still be fired due to the economy or changing technology or business needs). That getting a job is as easy as submitting a resume and waiting for a call back (no, a lot of people can only find a job networking, or by taking a lower level one and advancing that way, or by doing volunteer or intern work first).

    I’m not saying unemployment was ever easy, but a lot of people are treating it as if getting a job now is going to be as easy or fast as it was during the economic boom.

    I do not think it is acceptable to say that unemployed people are all spoiled and lazy, but some are and won’t take his advice anyway. Some aren’t and really do need help realizing the amount of work it takes to get a job nowadays. Especially those who haven looked recently (young graduates, or those previously in the same job for a long time who had hoped for security).

  40. Diana says:

    Trent, I feel like you let me down. For someone who is self-employed and writing articles before and after about earning money from hobbies and reviewing books that encourage alternative perspectives on paid employment, this article is full of the same old advice for job-seekers that they’ve been told forever and does no justice at all to the changing economy (note I did NOT say bad economy, but this is a whole new world). I consider you a pioneer in non-traditional American financial thinking, and you have disappointed and even offended me by your implications that people who cannot find work are not “really trying” or feel entitled. Do you not trust that your readers can figure out that part on their own?

    I will continue reading your blog, and I do still appreciate it, but you tackled a topic that is emotionally ripping people apart these days without sensitivity or thought. Today, you have made me sad.

  41. Johanna says:

    @Kat: OK, now I get what you are saying. And if Trent had said *that* instead of “try harder and shut up about politics and oh, by the way, you need to suffer,” I wouldn’t have had a problem with it.

  42. Michael says:

    Unemployment insurance discourages people from taking lower-paying jobs. In fact, taking a full-time job that doesn’t pay well is a risk because if that job doesn’t work out, the new unemployment benefits will be less than if the work had never been done.

    I am not an Austrian economist, but I agree with von Mises that the net effect of unemployment insurance is to preserve periods of unemployment for longer periods of time and to restrict the creation of better-paying jobs. Unfortunately, nobody elected is brave enough to propose we phase out unemployment insurance benefits as well as premiums withheld from paychecks.

    As to the rest of the article: the correct answer is to take the What Color Is Your Parachute? test, choose one’s new industry and then dive into learning it/breaking in for 80 hours a week. Trent has some excellent articles about how to do that.

  43. LMR says:

    I agree in theory with the “get out there and find something” sentiment, but there are real obstacles to that. For one, unless the payments on the house your children were born in are very low, picking beans all day ain’t gonna pay the mortgage. That’s just the sad reality of it and I don’t want to get into the politics of the fact that Big Agriculture won’t hire people who know their rights and don’t live in fear of being deported, or worse.
    Another reality is that of being overqualified. I have a Master’s degree and have worked jobs that reflected that level of education. However, when I was unemployed I applied at every retail and fast food establishment in my area. I even downplayed my qualifications, but I never got a response.
    Also, what about following your passion? Apparently that’s out the window. Now I’m working a full-time job and a part-time job, neither of which I particularly like, because the jobs I did want to apply for either did not exist or were not interested in me. So I had to face reality at some point and take one and a half jobs that still pay a lot less than the job I lost in 2008 that I really liked.
    I also disagreed about the political thing. I mean, yeah, focus on finding a job first and then do some canvassing or whatever in the evenings or on weekends. It’s a good way to get out there, meet people, and who knows but you might be able to get your resume into someone’s hands who will already know that at least you are civically responsible.

  44. Lisa Wilson says:

    Hi, Trent. I don’t know what’s changing in your life, but it seems as if your blog is sliding downhill. I’ve got to the point where I check it every 2-3 days instead of excitedly looking forward to each new post.You seem to have gotten a superior attitude that comes off as your better than others.This post & the one about the woman with an autistic child had no compassion , no caring at all in them.I’m starting to think that you’ve made enough money blogging & got enough income from blogging that you don’t care about the people anymore. I hope I am wrong about this . There are other people who read this site who are saying the same thing when they write replies at other blogs too. The job market is terrible right now. I live in Ohio. There are people who have worked for 30 years & now no work. It’s not as easy as take any work. You fill out the applicationm if a job is available & they tell you you are overqualified to work at fast food or whereever or you go to another place & say you are underqualified. The jobs are hard to get. My husband works at a plastics company & hasn’t been laid off. They are actually working overtime each week. People who have made $80,000 a year are now applying there for $8.50 an hour to start.Husband has been there 10 years & makes $11.27 an hour. We live on it , but some people with big expenses couldn’t. There are a lot of people trying for the jobs that are open everywhere. They have laid off police , fire, library workers , teacher & even threatened to shut off the street lights if the levy didn’t pass. Well,it didn’t & they are supposed to be turned off in Nov.Sorry I’ve went on so long & hope you really do care about your readers.Sincerely, Lisa

  45. Barb says:

    Stephainie=I feel your pain. Because we were stationed in Germany for seven years, my son never had a job until he graduated from high school and returned here, and I managed to only work about three of those seven. And I was a wife of a DOD employee, not a military guy so I did not have miiltary spousal preference. That said, you may want to take a class or get a lesson on code word and phrases for the military system, which is not the same as the civilian phrases might be. It seems that my comments have not been showing lately, hopefully Trent will realize this will be helpful to one of his readers.

  46. ML says:

    @Johanna

    Bravo! You make a number of excellent points.

  47. marta says:

    @Johanna:

    No kidding.

    Trent, maybe it would be a good idea to refrain from giving “advice” to people who are in dire straits for reasons, for the most part, beyond their control. Maybe you can talk wheever you experience an *actual* meltdown that is *not* due to stupid consumer debt.

    Every single time you address issues such as poverty, sexism, racism and so on, I just cringe. You don’t really get it.

  48. Johanna says:

    @marta: Don’t forget mental illness.

  49. marta says:

    Oh, how could I forget? That one was pretty bad.

    Hint: “Just buck up, get over it, and stop whining.” isn’t necessarily the answer to everything.

    On the politics issue, it’s really weird that such an aficionado seems to be against any discussion of them and airing of grievances, etc, between elections. Another hint: not everyone complains for the sake of complaining.

  50. Amanda B. says:

    You know Johanna, for someone who hates Trent’s advice so much, you sure do comment here a lot (20% of the comments on this post alone). Is TSD just the bridge you live under?

  51. Johanna says:

    Apart from his insensitive handling of a few specific topics, I do not “hate Trent’s advice.”

    If you don’t like my comments, don’t read them.

    Please, let’s not turn this thread into yet another referendum on me.

    That’s all I have to say about that.

  52. valleycat1 says:

    Another option – sign on with temp agencies & don’t be too restrictive about what kinds of jobs you’ll accept. You’ll get a little cash coming in while building contacts and gaining local references. Some companies are using long-term temps rather than hiring, so you won’t necessarily be in a new place every day, and handling such a job well could lead to a permanent offer down the road.

  53. suzy says:

    The big message I think, is at some point you must get some work in order to keep your universe moving. I finally took the P/T job that pays 10/hr, and I didnt like it, doing it. But now that I am there
    I think its better being out, talking to people, bringing in some money. The folks who say shooting stuff into cyber wont get you a job may be right.

  54. Kelly says:

    I hold a Bachelor’s degree as an RN and I don’t think I could find a job that wasn’t in the healthcare field.I’d be considered overqualified. GE workers make more money than I do and with MUCH better benefits but they wouldn’t hire me because I’m an RN…I know, I applied and this is what I was told.

  55. DougR says:

    Some really, really thoughtful and thought-provoking comments on this thread, which I appreciate, since while I’m employed AT THE MOMENT, these days you never know. I don’t find Trent’s advice on this topic “insensitive” necessarily (I see it more falling within the “rocks are hard, water is wet” school where no matter what the obstacles, you still have to get the job done) but I also can’t imagine what it must be like to see everything you’ve worked so hard for crumbling around you. I would think a certain amount of whining, self-pity, sadness, loss, stress, outrage and whathaveyou in THAT circumstance would be perfectly human, and natural, and I plan to indulge in them, in spades, when/if my job disappears. But the entirety of Trent’s tool-box is still wide open for me, and ultimately that’s where one needs to focus. Thanks for some sharp and very wise comments everyone.

  56. E A Macomber says:

    I think it would be hard for anyone who has not been long-term unemployed to understand how frustrating it is to be constantly rejected for jobs. After a while depression sets in and you start to feel like you will never get a job again. You beging to doubt yourself and your abilities.

    What I try to remember is that the numbers are against me and it is not really personal that I have been rejected. With an average of 5 applicants for each job opening, 4 people are going to be rejected. And these are 4 hard-working, competent, good people.

    So, I hope that others will forgive me if sometimes I vent about how hard it is for me to get a job in this economy. I am doing everything I can to find a job and trying to stay motivated with the hope that one of these times I will be the 1 in 5 applicants who actually gets the job.

  57. Chet says:

    I’ve heard a lot about the 99ers who are people that have got benefits for 99 weeks and are now going to stop getting them. A lot of these folks now have massive student loans because they spent money on upgrading themselves by doing MBAs and high-end degrees.

    My suggestion: In tough economies, other jobs might work out better. I know people who are too busy to work on their house and yard, waiting for plumbers who are too busy, waiting on HVAC folks, cannot do auto repair – that’s what I’d do if I lost my job.

  58. Kris says:

    I’ve gotten my last two jobs through networking. Sometimes you have to know someone to get your resume to the top of the pile. I would have never gotten either of those jobs had I just sent a resume in the mail or posted it on a website.

  59. Kate says:

    I spend hours on my job search every day, and have been doing so for exactly a year (I was laid off August 31 2009). I make a point of applying for at least five jobs EVERY SINGLE DAY. I keep track and so far have applied for 3047 jobs.
    The reality in my area is that there are literally hundreds of applicants for every single job out there, and employers are snapping up the YOUNGEST people with the LEAST experience (I’m 54 and have 25 years of experience in my field) because they feel they can pay them a lot less.

  60. Stephan F-- says:

    I’ve gotten much the same advice from just about every other source I know.

    My question back is, “Do you really think I am that dumb that I don’t know all that and haven’t already tried it?” Really?

    I did the 40 hr/wk thing, I’ve sent out >1000 resumes. Not a single reply in any form. So why waste time on that?

    Networking, what a laugh. 1 went into beekeeping, another went into nursing (not such a good choice now), and 2 have died.

    I had friends who tried to “help” me get a job at their company, but wouldn’t tell what the job was and basically dragged me into ambushing the person they thought I should work for. Which I found extremely rude not just for myself but the other persona s well. We friends like these who needs Klingons.

    Networking events seem to be filled with unemployed losers like myself and no one that actually knows of a job opening. They usually devolved into gripe sessions. Waste of time, as are job fairs. the last one I went too the booth guy wouldn’t even take my resume since I didn’t have a security clearance. That was one of the more soul crushing experiences.

    But that had nothing on the “any job” job I took. It was in a call center doing data entry, nothing hard but it was the worst job I’ve ever had and that includes picking up used condoms out of the bushes on a beach. Their was a couple there who were trying to rebuild their lives after a major medical event had destroyed them. She asked me how I did it without crying (she was crying before each shift) I told her that I didn’t remember, and I meant it quite literally. I would get home and not be able to remember what had happened at all at work. After 100 days the stress of it all put me in the hospital with gall stones. So that $8/hr job put me another $30K in debt. Yeah that was a good deal.

    I loathe the word Overqualified.Come on, I can do amazing things for you, sure I’ll leave but everyone leaves eventually and I always leave you better off then when I came.

    There is a political solution to this Depression and it doesn’t matter what party is in office. All they have to do is cut spending 50% or more and cut regulation to the bare bones. That worked for Germany and Japan after WWII and it even worked here after WWI. Of course, I don’t think either political party would do that.

    I don’t really believe in the job search industry anymore, so I spend most of my time working on my website. It may still have a long way to go but it least I see some ROI on it.

  61. If you cant find job in THIS economy wait until economy gets even worse. And, unfortunately, it will. THEN the real problem with finding job will arise.

  62. cathleen says:

    As a former business owner and long time HR manager I feel qualified to jump in here with my 2¢.

    This is one large country and ANY generalization is not going to apply to even a majority of people.
    After i sold my business I was unemployed for 2 loooong years. I have never been unemployed in my life. Long story short, I applied to every job at every imaginable pay rate and was turned down as Over Qualified at almost every job. I finally connected with a former co-worker at my old place of employment (prior to my decade of small business ownership) and was hired on the spot, low six figures.
    I pinch myself every day I am so lucky. I am trying to pay back my good fortune by helping unemployed friends with their networking.
    The number one reason someone gets hired here in Silicon Valley (after initial skill set match of course) is WHO THEY KNOW.
    So get out there and network.

    And as far as politics foes…use the Google and educate yourself a bit with some charts about unemployment rates throughout the last 50 years.

  63. Lise says:

    I was unemployed/underemployed for about a year, and just found a job in June of this year – and I changed careers, even, to a field I don’t have any formal training in. I guess that’s the “it can be done!” part of this comment.

    I totally understand how discouraging looking for a job can be, but I’ll also say this – I was never really sitting on my hands in the job search. I didn’t treat it like a 40-hour a week job, either, though. Maybe I just got lucky. I won’t totally discount that possibility.

    But I think the biggest thing I did that helped was to do contract work in the field I wanted to be working in. It didn’t pay all the bills, but it did give me enough of an edge over unemployment benefits to keep going (an emergency fund also helped).

    Most important was the training I received. Working on actual client websites (I’m a front-end web developer), as opposed to hobby sites, taught me some of these “best practices” of which I was ignorant, being self taught.

  64. Courtney says:

    What exactly did Trent say that has some of you so offended? He made some good points and helpful suggestions.

  65. Johanna says:

    You’re so funny, Courtney.

  66. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: I’m serious, I would like to know. Please tell me, using exact quotes from Trent’s post, what he said that is offensive.

  67. Johanna says:

    Who said that anything Trent said was offensive? I believe only one person did.

  68. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Are you going to answer the question or just keep trying to deflect?

    Judging from your numerous comments above, you have a big problem with what Trent wrote. However, you haven’t been able to give me one example of something he actually said that is off-base.

  69. marta says:

    Courtney, if you actually read people’s comments you would see where the post was problematic.

    For example: you don’t need to say outright: “Unemployed people are spoiled and lazy, and have got only themselves to blame!” You can imply it and still express the sentiment. The advice is not good or helpful, it’s trite and insulting to those it’s aimed at — again, read people’s comments –as many of them have already done all those things, and even more, and still are un/underemployed. It’s a touchy topic, especially these days when unemployment rates are pretty high. The last thing people need is a self-employed PF blogger to recycle the same old patronizing armchair advice while ignoring the realities of the current situation. Yes, he mentioned it in passing, but the truth is that it actually *matters*. The economy *is* bad.

    Some people are humble enough to realise they are lucky to (still) have their jobs, but many people seem to enjoy thinking that, if they have got jobs, and others haven’t, it’s because the others are lazy, stupid or spoiled. Not like *them*: hard/smart workers, blahblah bootstraps blahblah merit blahblah fishcakes.

    Sometimes, it’s just better not to say anything, especially when one hasn’t been in such a situation. Trent can be pretty obtuse when handling issues like this one, barely acknowledging (or ignoring altogether) his privileges.

    So, no “exact quotes” for you. But I don’t think you really wanted to see where people were coming from.

  70. Courtney says:

    @marta: So no exact quotes, just some mind-reading on your part? I see. Never let a little thing like facts get in the way of your outrage :)

  71. marta says:

    Hahaha.

  72. Johanna says:

    “Offense” is a subjective personal reaction. So casting someone’s disagreement with you in terms of “offense” is a way of shifting the focus of the discussion from the actual points of disagreement to whether the “offended” party is too easily offended, too sensitive, too emotional, etc.

    As for specific quotes, I actually gave one in my comment #19, and I even put it in quotes, so I don’t know how you missed it. (Ok, I accidentally changed “that” to “the” – my bad.) Trent said: “Save that spitfire for the next election cycle, when you’ve got a good job. If you’re unemployed, don’t waste your energy on it – spend it on getting employed.” So either he doesn’t realize that there’s an “election cycle” going on right now, or he doesn’t think that unemployed people should participate in political discourse even during an election season.

    Later, he advises job seekers to “treat your unemployment like it’s a job and spend at least forty hours a week specifically looking for work.” So looking for work is like a full-time job. But presumably he’s not going to tell someone with an *actual* full-time job that discussing politics during a campaign season is a waste of energy that would be better spent doing your job. (I could be wrong about this, but if I am, it means that politics should never be discussed by anyone, with the possible exception of retirees.) So employed people are allowed to express political opinions, and unemployed people aren’t. That’s problematic.

  73. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Okay, we interpreted that differently. I took that to mean, “Take care of priority number one, which is finding a job, and don’t get bogged down in blaming others for your situation.”

    If you were in Trent’s shoes and had lots of unemployed people asking you for help, what would you tell them? I am curious how your advice would differ from his.

  74. Johanna says:

    Reading comprehension, Courtney. As I already said:

    “‘But don’t people looking for work just need some constructive advice?’ No, I don’t think they do. At least not from me, or you, or anyone else who’s never actually been in the unfortunate position of needing to find a job at a time of ~10% unemployment.”

    See, for me to offer advice to “lots of unemployed people” would imply that I know more than they do about how to find a job right now. And I don’t think I do.

    For any specific job seeker, I might (or might not) have some specific advice, if I thought there was something they were obviously overlooking. For example, there was a letter in one of the recent reader mailbags from a woman who’d just graduated from college, apparently in some sort of science. She hadn’t mentioned applying to grad school (for a program that would provide a tuition waiver and a living stipend), so I suggested that she consider it. But that’s obviously not good advice for everyone.

  75. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Okay, bear with me a minute while I try to comprehend what you just wrote…apparently, I need help in that department ;)

    So when Trent gets emails from people who are unemployed and asking him for advice, what do you suggest that he do? Should he just ignore those emails? Tell them that he can’t help them since no one who is employed can possibly give useful advice about finding a job?

    You act like Trent is walking up to people in the unemployment line and rattling off unsolicited advice on how to find a job. People are coming to him for advice and he is doing what he can to help them, and you are criticizing him for it.

  76. Johanna says:

    First of all, this post pretty much *is* unsolicited advice on how to find a job. When job seekers write to him for advice, he says he writes back with advice (“tailored to [their] specific situation”). That, in itself, is fine, although the quality of the advice might not be – but people who ask for advice should be aware of the possibility that they might not get *good* advice. But this post is broad-brush advice for *all* job seekers who happen to be reading this blog. (And yes, an unemployed person could be reading a personal finance blog for any number of reasons other than for advice on how to find a job.) If that’s not unsolicited advice, then what is?

    Second, I do in fact think that if someone asks you for advice, and you don’t have any advice for them, you should not try to give them advice.

    If someone wrote to you asking for advice on how to translate a manuscript from Greek into Hebrew, what would you do? (If translating Greek into Hebrew happens to be your specialty, substitute “solving partial differential equations” or anything else you don’t know much about.)

    You might ignore them, and that would be OK – no one says you have to answer every email you receive. You might send them a quick reply such as “I’m sorry, that’s not something I can help you with.” You might point them toward a person who *would* be able to help, if you happen to know of such a person.

    But you wouldn’t (or maybe you would, but you shouldn’t): (1) make stuff up, (2) give them utterly obvious advice that insults their intelligence (“Have you tried learning Greek, and then learning Hebrew, and then translating the one into the other?”), or (3) then write a blog post about how to translate Greek into Hebrew.

  77. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: I’m willing to bet that if Trent said that he either ignored those emails or told the people that he couldn’t help them, you would be criticizing him for being unhelpful, heartless, indifferent to the plight of the unemployed, etc. etc.

  78. Johanna says:

    Now why on Earth would you be willing to bet that? After all, I just said that *I* don’t have any advice for job seekers (at least not in general). Do you think that I think that I’m unhelpful, heartless, and indifferent to the plight of the unemployed?

  79. Courtney says:

    @Johanna: Ever heard the saying “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”? That’s why.

  80. marta says:

    Gosh.

    Again, sometimes it’s best NOT to give advice at ALL.

    I run a freelancing/temp workers resource website, where I compiled tons of practical info on taxes, duties and rights, and so on. Mostly the basics, since tons of people have a hard time getting to that information, since it’s all spread out with tons of misinformation mixed in. I don’t blog or keep a forum, because I don’t have that kind of time and it is not my job — I don’t make money with it. It’s a good site for what it is, and most people who write in are pretty appreciative.

    The hardest e-mails to deal with are the ones asking for advice (generally legal) I am NOT qualified to give. People tell me tales of exploitation, stories that break my heart and enrage me on their behalf, asking for help.

    Do I give them the advice on stuff I know next to nothing about? No. I tell them I am not the right person for it, wish them all the luck and, when appropriate, point them towards some resource/person who can actually help.

    Does this mean I don’t give a damn? Of course not. But I am not going to pretend I know more than I do, either.

  81. SwingCheese says:

    I don’t have a lot of experience in looking for a job. However, we moved, and the position I held previously is not available in the metro area in which we are now living (none of the schools where we’re living teach the subject area in which I’m licensed). Now, I had been planning on staying at home with my little one anyway, so I wasn’t on a “job hunt”, but I was interested in looking at part time job options, so I submitted some online applications. I have come to the conclusion that, when I intend to re-enter the workforce full-time, I will be contacting HR departments directly, as opposed to turning in applications online. I know of other folks who have sent in online applications with no response, whereas those who have had relatively short job searches have been those who approached the company directly.

  82. Wes says:

    Wow, this back and forth is ridiculous.

    I think the haters are reading too much of their own frustration into Trent’s post, and then spewing their overreactions into the comments section.

    Johanna and Marta, are you really going to argue that Trent shouldn’t be posting advice on his blog that people read for… wait for it… ADVICE??? Now you are correct to say that he shouldn’t post advice regarding specialized information for high-stakes scenarios, such as your situation with legal questions, Marta. But jeez, this blog post is not that specific. It hardly amounts to more than a motivational speech that boils down to “Life is hard sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage those aspects over which you have control as well as you can.” Pointing out this principle isn’t insulting to anyone. Yeah, maybe some of his ideas are obvious, but sometimes reading a post like this is just what some people need to motivate themselves.

  83. Chris Cruz says:

    I worked at a temp agency(not through) and learned a ton about the employment process. What alot of people fail to do is set themselves apart from the crowd. First is your resume. There’s no right or wrong format to a resume. Format it to make you look like the best candidate. Like if you’re applying for a graphic design job make you’re resume aesthetically appealing like you’re designing an ad. DONT use the standard MS Word resume template. EVERYBODY uses it and its boring. Also the rule that resumes should be 1 page is complete bullshit. Cater your resume to the job you’re applying for and use the

    The next big thing is PERSONALITY. There are tons of other applicants with college degrees and many with higher GPA’s from better schools. There are also many more applicants with more experience. What sets you apart is your personality. Your passion for the job and how you’d fit in the work culture often goes further than degrees or experience. I’ve seen many unqualified applicants get hired because they have a great personality and the interviewer knew they would fit great. Skills can always be learned. Anyone can take classes and get a degree.

    I really like Trents advice that no job is beneath you. Any job is better than NO job.

  84. Babs says:

    Joanna used deprecating sarcasm when she alluded to Courtney’s obtuseness as an inability to comprehend. A rule of etiquette is that it’s always a faux pas to point out a faux pas. So, excuse me.

    Saying Courtney couldn’t comprehend was the same as saying she was stupid, and anyone would take exception to that.

    People’s judgments have gotten so harsh these days, I have decided to remind myself to extend the benefit of the doubt instead of assume some scathing character or level of intelligence flaw.

    Courtney could have read all the posts before commenting, so that she would have found comments reflecting issues people had with the post.

    Joanna should have either suggested to Courtney that she read the previous postings, or considered the possibility, likely, I think, that Courtney is either young and inexperienced or naive and hasn’t had the experience of being involuntarily unemployed,and hasn’t developed the sensitivities that would allow her to perceive that some of Trent’s pronouncements could be construed negatively.

    I think we should assume that Joanna isn’t generally impolite, and that

    Courtney does posses reading comprehension.

    One should always err on the side of generosity.

  85. almost there says:

    Unemployment is way worse than the fed. gvt. states at about 10%. During the Clinton era the defination was changed to remove anyone that was unemployed for a year off the unemployment rolls. So it is about 22% or greater now. Google shadowstats and see for yourselves. So, yes, Trent can reply that as long as his wife doesn’t do anything wrong with a student and get fired he will never be in the dire straits that the unemployed are.

  86. bird says:

    WOW what an aray of comments and opinions and it’s hard to know where these voices are from but I imagine from all across california and beyond. I am 57 years old and besides a ten year period where I was a stay at home mom and worked very hard I have worked all my life sence the age of 15. Back then 15 was good. I have been unemployed for nearly two years now and I can not find a job to save my life. While at the laundry mat I noticed a lady outside pushing what looked like a trash ben on wheels and she had a divice that when you squeezed the handle prongs would open up and allow you to pick up trash. I walked over to her and asked her “sorry to interrupt, but where did you apply to get this job?” the lady looked at me and began to giggle explaining that she did not speak english. I was pretty much blown away. It got me thinking that all the places I had been to in person to attempt to apply for a job,(and all most 98% tell you you have to apply on the internet that they do not accept applications in person any more!!!)looked very different than a few years ago before my last job. It seems as though in california what we are competing against is an army of well placed latinos both male and female but mostly very young. In so many cases and I am so sure about this they converse in front of God and everyone in spanish with each other or customers that are spanish. Example I was at the EDA formerly the EDD wanting to use some of the facilities and the two front receptionists were spanish/mexican ladies that freely spoke spanish to each other and the large number of spanish customers. I was facinated with the the situation and sat off to the side and started a chart recording black,white,asian,spanish and other that walked in and spoke in english or not. In the two hours I did this (for two days in a row) there were three times the amount of spanish speaking people as compared to all other english speaking peoples combined!!! In the entire facility I counted thirteen employees that remained visible to the public and two were white(1-security guard,1-vet services)three were black(1-career councelor,2-information specialists)the remaining nine were hispanic and all were councelors of some sort and by the way when lunch time rolls around all career councelors go to lunch at one time leaving all customers there to twiddle their thums for one to one and a half hour. I think there is a big ass elephant in the room how bout you?

  87. Mary Donnelly says:

    This advice was quite useless. Doesn’t sound like the author’s been there. Nor does he realize that the whole economic situation AND the job situation is now changed. It’s time for new thinking, outside of the box, since jobs for the middle class are never coming back. So where’s the new thinking? Why aren’t people forming new supportive communities since nuclear families will no longer be able to make it? Why aren’t the members of churches joining together into one large work ‘family’? Neighborhoods joining together, alumnae groups joining to support each other? Something new is needed, the old ways will no longer suffice.

  88. Harm says:

    Sorry, Illya (#1) but if you have a BSE (AND a
    Masters in math) I DO have doubts about the
    ‘efficiency’ of your job search. (May I ask
    what sort of engineering you’re in?)
    And Ryan (#25) the cutoff of unemployment benefits
    at LESS than 99 weeks is one Republican effort
    that is lamentably right on target. Obviously
    I’m generalizing, and that isn’t good, but I think
    it’s TRUE that if people HAVE 99 weeks of
    unemployment, that’s how long it will take them to
    find a job.

  89. Meg says:

    Spot on!
    Thank you for writing what many of us in the job-search blog biz have been saying for some time:

    1) Don’t give up. Seek positive people; get away from the blame game and other negative time-wasters.
    2) Look at all of your skills; just because you’ve studied to be an engineer doesn’t mean your job MUST be in engineering. What other skills do you bring to the table that can make you employable TODAY?
    3) Yes, you can flip burgers. How “undignified” are you going to feel living in your car????
    4) Yes, ask for help! Get someone (who does not CHARGE $) to look at your resume. Practice interviewing skills. Review your presentation.
    Get opinions on your wardrobe choices. ASK FOR HELP!
    Many, many, many of us have been where you are – unemployed! We’ve lived it, we’ve overcome it, and we’re willing and able to share what we’ve learned.
    But you have to be willing to hear it.

  90. bird says:

    I just read comments made by a Lisa Wilson. Lisa do I know you? Are you from San Pedro, Ca.? Does Mary Star ring a bell? Answer back!

  91. Dan says:

    “I can’t even imagine how painful it would be to not have a steady income, have no luck finding work, and have others depending on you to provide an income”.

    I’m sure you can’t, given the naivety of your viewpoint it is apparent that you have never been in that situation. Should it happen to you, I doubt very much you would be “happily picking beans”. Fact of the matter is, doing that would not keep a roof over your head unless you already happen to live in a cardboard box on the street.

    You obviously have never been there, so your advice is worthless.

  92. Jon says:

    It’s WHO you know! In this economy you’re not going to get a good job if you don’t know the right people, regardless of your skills or education, so get out there! Make sure you look great, polish your shoes (or buy a new pair just for interviews), get a nice haircut, dress well and present yourself with dignity. These small things make a huge a differece and surprisingly, many people neglect them.

    Low paying jobs with high end clients are a great place to work and make great connections, especially if you have a gregarious personality. Try jobs at country clubs, high end golf courses, high end restuarants/bars, health clubs, spas, volunteer organizations, ect. Your surroundings are also important, go to where the money is! If you’re living in Topeka, Kansas, your opportunities are limited, so, be open to relocation. Positivity is key, smile, be happy, you never know when your opportunity will present itself. Don’t cave to the “victim” mentality. Winners always know that everything will be fine eventually!

  93. andrew says:

    I you “take a job beneath you” One thing about this particular recession is that there are not a lot of jobs period working at Mcdonalds or as a custodian or even at temporary labor. that’s what’s making this so vicious.
    I have a math degree and took a job as a custodian 15 years ago. What I learned is I get bored with jobs that are beneath my intellectual level and I don’t do them as well as other people more intellectually suited for the job.
    So far I have been tried out by a custodial company on my 7th interview and I have not been called back. I’ve been called to 11 interviews for custodial work ( i did it for 15 years total) and I can’t honestly say I want the job so theat’s how I come across in the interview. But that’s where I have the most experience.

    Resumes sent for accounting or programming have been getting no replies and I still have no experience. That seems to be the pattern. If you have a lot of experience then you are called in for an interview.
    Its a tough spot to be in.
    I compare now with pre recession (2005-2008) and I could at least pick up work without benefits and low pay which became a vicious cycle. still I could pay my rent.
    In 1998, I could walk into a job and quit jobs easily.The unemployment rate was 4% nationally and 2.5% in state I was living in.
    Right now, taking a job beneath you is unrealistic unless you relocate to North Dakota because even at that level employers are being very picky. And I will also add some are just plain mean. I was just fired on a 3 day job on the first day by an employer who didn’t need me or who didn’t thin my work was good enough.

    I have a strong feeling that the author is not out there in the trenches toughing it out. It was a pretty patronizing although well intentioned article.

  94. Brent says:

    This is not a very good article IMO. There simply aren’t enough jobs available in this crap economy. There are hundreds of job applicants applying for ONE single position. If someone has no experience in the position they are applying for, they wont get the job. Someone with experience will. Lets say you have experience but no degree, well the person w/ experience AND a degree will get the job, not you. What if you have experience, and a degree, but made a mistake in the past and have a misdemeanor on your record? They’re gunna choose the person w/ a perfect record. It’s BS. Its not fair. What about the people that live in smaller towns and cant just pick up and move to a bigger city? Or don’t have the money to drive to a bigger city and drive around all day looking for jobs that they most likely won’t get? Im sick of hearing “Stop being lazy, get off your a** and get a job”. They have no idea what alot of ppl go through because they already have a job. The 3 fast food places in the small town I live in have not been hiring for months and months. And even if they were, they’d hire someone w/ experience and a perfect background. This world is SCREWED. I feel worthless, and contimplate just “giving up” all the time because there seems to be absolutely no hope. If you dont have experience, a degree, a perfect background, connections, or live in a bigger city, your SCREWED.

  95. Christie @ Tree Hugging Mom says:

    What a great post. Too often, people want to play the victim. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is attitude is everything.
    My husband was laid off last year. It was rough. It was discouraging. It taught us ALOT.
    We approached the layoff likes this,
    We told EVERYONE what happened. You never know what opportunities will arise if people know you are on the market.
    My husband treated unemployment as his new job. He spent every day searching online, applying, visiting companies, etc.
    We didn’t give up, even though we weren’t sure if he was ever gonna get another job.
    And you know what? He did. At a 60% paycut, but it was a JOB. Ideal: no. Income: yes. He has been back to work for over a year now and somehow we have managed to survive just fine with the paycut (lots of reducing expenses, living frugal involved).
    But like I said before, we learned ALOT. Even thru all of this, we are focused on an emergency account and are prepared for round two should we be faced with it again in the future.
    Unemployment can suck, or it can be a very good learning experience. It’s all in the attitude.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>