‘Care enough to inquire. Care enough to assist however you can.’
I was employed as a copywriter for an advertising agency in 2008-2009. In early March of 2009 I represented the only remaining creative employee at the company. Earlier that year all three graphic designers and our web designer had been let go. I was also “let go” in middle March.
The company had experienced difficulty in acquiring full payment from clients for work rendered, and with incomplete payments came the inability to continue paying employees. Hence, we were all laid off.
The most difficult thing about being out of work for months numbering more than six or seven was remaining positive in the face of frustration and disappointment. Having been employed as a writer for only 2 years after graduating college, my limited experience (barring any freelance I performed after being let go) had limited my ability to compete with the hundreds of unemployed senior copywriters applying for the same positions I was.
It’s hard to determine whether my lack of job inspired employers to look in the other direction. More often than not I never received an interview and only few inquired as to what I had been doing with my time prior to applying for an open position.
Unemployment benefits were practically useless. Conveniently, I do no have a family for whom I must provide. I found myself applying for positions of the entry/mid level status alongside of creatives with many years more experience than me. So yes, I have found the recession-era job market to be many times more competitive than its healthier predecessor.
I have been working part time as a baker for Philly Pretzel Factory since my most recent lay-off experience. The last job I was let go from was with a therapy provider. In the summer of 2010 they hired dozens of people, myself included and boasted the ability to grow their company substantially. After Medicare was cut before the end of the year (something they should have seen coming) they let 35 people go in one sitting. I, having been one of the most recent hired, was one of the first to go.
I have been working. But I’d also, up until recently been searching still for a writing position, to continue doing what I love. I’ve now decided to redirect my energies toward securing a position in sales (something I wouldn’t have done given the choice … but I feel I have no other choice at this time).
So far in my attempts to find meaningful work, my greatest comfort has come from the personal and professional connections I’ve made over the years. One of the greatest tools anyone can use is their sphere of influence, if not solely for a source of employment, then at least for advice and ideas. It has been the willingness of others to share these things with me that has made my journey that much less difficult. What can WE do to make things easier for the unemployed? We can be willing to help them on the level of citizen to citizen, not business professional to job seeker. Care enough to inquire. Care enough to assist however you can.
Dan H., via email