Since I’m in my third round of unemployment in a period of about five years, I’m starting to feel like an old hand at being unemployed. So, for those who are new to the gig, I thought I’d let you guys know what to expect.
* News reports will say silly things like, “Unemployment claims are down. The job market is improving!” And you’ll find yourself thinking, “If that’s true, why is it that all of the people that I know without jobs – including myself – are still without jobs?”
* Other people will say silly things like, “You haven’t been out of work long enough to get depressed.” When those people (invariably) add, “I know someone who’s been out of work more than a year!” politely ask, “Okay, so *now* may I be depressed?”
* Everyone will tell you that applying on-line is a waste of time and that networking is the way to go. Yet many times people that you ask for job leads will say they’ll check, and then not follow through.
* Jobs that you apply to will frequently be re-listed, even though the company never talked to you. This has become a red flag to me that the company isn’t really hiring. See the next point.
* Many of the positions that appear in the job listings are not currently available. The company is simply “building a talent pool” which may or may not ever be used.
* Similarly, positions that show up as being posted “a few hours ago” have frequently been around for much longer. Employers know that many searches start with the Most Recent, so they re-save their old ads to make them seem current.
* Few employers will acknowledge that just about anyone can be trained to do just about any position that their company has available. Instead, they demand 27.853 years of experience of the one who will answer the phone.
* Many job listings misrepresent the position by using phrases such as “developing contacts” to mean “telemarketing.” On the bright side, such listings become fairly obvious fairly early on in your job hunt.
* A frustratingly large number of potential employers will dismiss you from consideration if you admit that you have previously been fired. To put this in perspective, the same employers claim that they will not hold it against you if you’ve been convicted(!) of a felony(!!), but they make no such claim about being fired, as if a single termination somehow proves that you are completely unredeemable. Isn’t it true that something like half of all American workers have been fired at some point? And isn’t it true that sometimes it’s solely because of a personality clash with someone in management? And isn’t it also true that even if it was for cause, the fact that you got fired could very well be the wake-up call that makes you try harder next time?
* A frustratingly large number of on-line applications require completion of a so-called assessment test, with 100 worthless and often tricky questions such as, “Do you think it’s wrong to steal too much at your job?” The sole purpose of these tests is to reduce the number of people this employer must interview. A very common side effect is that they leave the applicant – and those of us who help them – with a bad impression of the company. (I’m lookin’ at you Kmart, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s, Lowe’s… pretty much everyone with continuous ads at SnagAJob) .
* People will secretly think that you’re not finding a job because you’re just not looking hard enough. Or maybe even not so secretly.