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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

End of dreams by unemployment, underemployment; An American and proud Michigander Story

(The Depression) The Single Men's Unemployed A...                                        Image via Wikipedia
A Reach Out Job Search Op/Ed

Some individuals believe that the long-term unemployed are jobless because they are low-skilled, not seeking actual work opportunities, unqualified for a job, can't be victims of age, 
jobless discrimination or a combination of all of the above.

Sadly, some people believe unemployed American job seekers would rather sit around collecting jobless benefits checks, instead of returning back to work. 

Never in my two years’ worth of articles on 
Reach Out Job Search News or previous writings as the Detroit Job Search Examiner for Examiner.com, have I told my story. My hope with finally revealing this information is that this article would open some of the eyes of individuals who believe that long-term unemployment is a symptom to laziness. 

A brief overview into my unemployment/underemployment story

The saying is that bad events in life, comes in three's. After losing three very dear relatives in late 2007, I would correct this statement by saying, "Bad things come in three's, until the fourth one arrives".


Shortly after losing my relatives, I was laid-off from employment in the telecommunication field with over six years of experience. Prior to this point, my performance reviews were "top-notch" with on a scale of 1 to 4, receiving either 3 or 4's within meeting and/or exceeding stated goals.

The stress associated with my personal losses hurt my job performance briefly. Within one week after losing my beloved Father to oral cancer unexpectedly, I was back to work. Three weeks later, the loss of material Grandmother to colon cancer was one another personal death, too quickly. 

From there, I took six weeks off to compose and then returned back to work. A month and a half later, my parental Grandmother died of grief from refusing to eat, after the loss of my Father, her only son. Somehow, I found a way to deal with this loss after taking four weeks off and returned to see my work location though the "all-important" Christmas retail season.

Regardless of my efforts, my former supervisor questioned both the validity of my personal losses in a short period of time and, my ability to continue performing the job. Ironically, during this time and brief approved absences from work, the locations’ "numbers" stayed in lead position in the district for sales generation, thanks to my great staff.

In April 2008, the supervisor noted above, ended my employment with my former company with a lay-off. Like a majority of individuals receiving unemployment benefits, I expected my time to be short-lived. Little did I know the next two and one half years, would consist of the worst period in my lifetime, trampling on my sincere desire of returning to full-time work. 

Never without a job for more than a one-month, embarking on a unexpected pathways

From there I took two weeks to grieve the fourth loss in a short period, my job, and returned to the pursuit of finding full-time work. After about six months of 300 resumes, 15 interviews and too many “Thanks, but no thanks” letters, I decided the best move would be to engage in a talent I always had, which would be my ability to write.

In early 2009, I started crafting articles for Examiner.com as the Detroit Job Search Examiner. The only employment opportunities that could be found, in the meantime, was part-time lower (than I ever earned before) paying work. Better than nothing, I took these jobs with the idea of “coming on board” permanently.

As a replacement for permanent work, I learned lower-paying part-time employment was the new normal. The income earned has been a far cry from my previous salary of $47-$57K a year in my former profession. Life changed from paying bills in advance to, barely paying them at all.

In society, a 670-700 credit score is considered decent. Being a member of this “club” prior my unemployment/underemployed period, gave me a badge of honor, so to speak. After pulling myself up “the American Way” from a single mother receiving public assistance during the early 1990’s, to a Bachelor’s degree mid-level corporate manager during the 2000’s, I vowed to pay what was due on-time and early, when working full-time.

The “American Dream” became a fantasy

At the turn of the next decade in 2010, I became 40. As most individuals prepare to secure investments for their retirement needs in the future, I saw years of contributions into my 401K’s fading, along with hopes of living financially well in my “golden age”.

Many members of Generation X, my generation, believed in corporate spin that we didn’t need pensions because investments in the stock market would pay out over time. Never were we told that this was a lie, until recently.

Worst, for me personally, returning to full-time employment begun to be another fantasy. Ever the optimist I decided to continuing serving in my “labor of love” as an unemployment advocate citizen-journalist. The stories I wrote presented an attempt to place a true face on this nations’ jobless crisis, without ever revealing my personal story.

Time passed, resumes sent and too many to count. A belief took hold that I obtained possible the best position that a 41 year-old former corporate employee can get in this time period; two lower-paying part-time jobs with neither totaling 40 hours a week and freelance writing projects. With bills falling behind, thoughts enter the mind daily how to place food on the table for my family, for the first time in my lifetime, equaling another "new normal".

Age and Jobless Discrimination are rampant in America

Some might ask after reading this article, why did I decide to tell my story now? Do I want a company to hire me? Well sure but, after three years of going to what I have been though, its’ doubtful to expect a job-seeking confessional will cause this action to occur.

So instead you want to call out your former employer? Certainly not, I decided to keep the name of my former company secret for a reason and, its’ because that wouldn’t add to the story being written about on this blog.

You expect people to feel sorry for you? Most certainly not, as pity is not something I want or would ever ask for.

In its place, the purpose of this article is to dispel a series of myths surrounding the long-term unemployed or underemployed.

·        A majority of job-seekers are waiting around until the end of their unemployment check extensions, than finding a jobSo far from the truth, a large number of job-seekers are engaging in employment searching for years, dishearten by rejection after rejection, why they couldn’t be the right candidate for the job.

·        Many unemployed job seekers are shameless, lazy and uncaring. Why on Earth would many job seekers ever reveal their stories knowing full well that jobless discrimination exist in the current employment marketplace? On this point, I’m speaking for me and a majority of the estimated 25 million underemployed, unemployed job seekers in America.

Telling these stories is likely to result increased employment discrimination that’s shameful and unfair. While writing this article, I question if this was right move but --as a one in millions of Americans that want to work for a fair, decent wages with benefits-- we deserve a fair opportunity to do so.

·        The unemployed are low-skilled. In a modern society, not everyone can afford to attend college, obtain a degree and still be unemployed. I have a Bachelors’ degree with near-honorable, hard-obtained, GPA. My gift for obtaining the degree and working hard in college has been a lay-off, with an unforeseeable payoff of my student loan debt. Many job seekers find themselves, facing this reality.

·        Accept the low wages, it’s better than nothing. In this case, it is better than nothing. The downside to accepting lower wages is employers believe for some strange reason regardless to ones’ employment history, education and experience, they can offer even lower wages to potential employees. Is this the way a first-class country expects to stay, first class?

·        Age/Unemployment discrimination doesn’t exist. If this is the case, why are 15 million plus American’s with a strong skill set to bring into a company still unemployed and another 10 million underemployed? The facts are that some employers “weed-out” resumes were the job seeker have been unemployed more than four months. Another fact is that for each year a job seeker is over the age of 40, this individual opportunities for finding employment decreases by 5-15% each year while being unemployed.

·        Unemployment is the new welfare. Who wants to be on welfare? In state politicians across the country, including here in my beloved Michigan, lawmakers continue to cut into jobless benefits along with assistance programs. Noting this, the future of unemployed job seekers desiring state based assistance benefits presents a bleak future. Reality is most job seekers crave decent salaried employment with benefits, just like most of the American population.

·        I’m not unemployed, so why should I care. Unless you are independently wealthy, don’t live from paycheck to paycheck and have three years of “rainy-day” funds on hand if you become jobless, you should care. No stone will be left unturned in some of the wealthiest 15% plans to lower wages, end middle class America as we know it and have a formal two class system, rich and poor.

One out of twelve people know someone that is unemployed, underemployed or are in this situation themselves. At the current rate of return, unless something is done to properly address this crisis, the numbers will turn to 1 in 6, or more than half the people in your community.

Who will be the scapegoat when unemployment comes knocking at your door?

This is the college-level essay one of my potential employers asked for in attempt to secure employment, but never received. Overly qualified for the opportunity, this employer decided to resend own their request for written dictation before the stated deadline.

This is my story. What is yours? Feel free to submit your unemployment story to webmaster@reachoutjobsearch.com


Maybe, if more of our stories are told truthfully, it will end the shame in America about being in a condition everyone wants to avoid, joblessness.

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