My parents sent me off to college, at least partly against my will, to earn a degree because that would enable me to earn a living for myself, and it did! From graduation until well past the turn of the millennium I earned a paycheck, sometimes two, until life intervened.
My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s. The symptoms began to appear in 2001, and by 2006 her condition had reached a critical point. I was faced with a choice between liquidating her assets to finance nursing home care or giving up my job to stay home with her. I chose the latter. I knew her time was short. I could always get another job, but never could recover precious time with Mom that would be lost if I outsourced her care.
I wanted to care for her myself, so I became her 24/7 caregiver. I will always treasure that time with her. At first I was able to continue my freelance writing and even some PR consulting, but outside work became impossible as the responsibilities of Mom’s care overwhelmed me.
The time came when Mom was content only if I was in the same room. When I could spare a few moments, I went to the computer and networked with my contacts to keep them from forgetting me. When Mom died in 2008, I was exhausted and in debt because of the cost of her medications and supplies. However, that was nothing compared to the paralyzing grief I felt.
Mom left this world just as the economy tanked. The effects of the “recession” in the newspaper business – fewer advertisers – meant a smaller budget for freelance writers. So I was not only bereft but my industry was not hiring and, unfortunately, that trend has continued.
I have continued to look for work in my field and to freelance. I have also done temp work, some of which has actually been fun. And I have worked in retail, which often seemed like a drastic treatment for the illness.
I have begun to feel that I am losing ground by the day. The stress sometimes makes me doubt myself, and certainly, my choices. I’m soldiering on but, the longer I look for a “real” job, the less confident I am that I will find one.
Real World confirmation that I’m not alone:
Matthew O’Brien (@ObsoleteDogma) at The Atlantic Monthly (@TheAtlantic) writes that long-term unemployment is almost impossible to recover from. He says it was “incredibly tough” for people laid off during the depth of the Lehman Brothers crisis to find work “soon afterwards — or even years later. “
O’Brien’s article shows the number of job applicants compared to jobs available rose steeply from just before my mother died in 2008 to a staggering 6.5 people searching for work for every job available by January 2009. That statistic is not on my side.
I’m far from being alone in searching unsuccessfully for full-time work for six months or longer. Many job seekers simply “made the mistake of losing their job at the wrong time.” Like many women, I voluntarily left the workforce to address family responsibilities. The effect is the same.
O’Brien says “something happens when you’ve been out of work for six months. Employers ignore you completely.” HR directors with big stacks of resumes can reduce the pile if they simply screen out long-term job seekers. But look what they are missing! There must be a better way…
Read the article, he has some interesting ideas!
Follow Ann @pennagal52
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