Friday, August 28, 2009

Since Then

A lot of things have been happening to me since last winter. Writing to this blog since then has been difficult since so much of what I write about is what happens to me and, when things go awry, sometimes it gets hard to maintain perspective. But, a synopsis is in order, I believe.

I became unemployed in January; was initially denied unemployment, appealed, and won the appeal. That was good.

Throughout the Spring 2009, I made a job out of looking for a job. I joined a job club through my local library that was helpful, especially emotionally. It helps to sit around a table with at least a dozen others and see that we're all in a life raft, holding on to whatever lifeline we can, while the turbulent waters of life splash around and over us. A sense of camardarie develops, we learn we're all survivors and somehow we'll get through this.

Being unemployed during the Spring of '09 was absolutely the worst time in modern history, and in my life, to have to be in that situation. The economy was tanking; times were really bad. About the only consolation I had was that I was receiving unemployment checks, I had a COBRA for health insurance and I had a place to live (with a person who believed in me).

During those months I applied for an average of 3 jobs a week. My Jobs Applied For folder was close to two inches thick by the time I eventually got a job. I had about 5 - 6 actual job interviews during that time.

What it seemed to me, and what I believe, is that - it's not what you know, it's who you know that makes the difference. When I finally got hired, it wasn't so much my background and skills as it was going back to my old agency, in a lesser position with a lower salary, with people throughout the agency vouching for me.

Other times when I was interviewing, I found that, for the most part, I was either over-qualified for the position or I was qualified - but had no one going to bat for me. There were several jobs I was really interested in and pushed for, but I didn't know anyone. It's not what you know, it's who you know. You know?

But now I'm back to work. I'm just past the halfway point of the 6 month probation so I need to be careful - keep my nose clean and to the grindstone. The only thing I accept is that there are no guarantees. Recently I found out I was number 63 on the seniority list. Since the agency is facing furloughs in the upcoming Fall, I have to wonder how safe I am.

The radio blasts that the economy is making a turnaround; however, just like when it was tanking there was a lag time, so there is a lag time regarding the recovery. I'd like to think things are getting better; I hope they are. My reality is, though, that things are very much up in the air.


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