I did today what I have done most days since March – visit job websites in the hope that I will find employment.
It is a frustrating and discouraging effort. It is like being repeatedly gut-punched or being shoved off just as you get to the top of the knoll in a king-of-the-hill contest. The frustration and discouragement grows when the stats on my online portfolio show no recent visits or my LinkedIn profile seems to be more like LockedOut with even fewer views than my online portfolio.
The industry that I have worked in the past two decades has been turned on its head, leaving trained and experienced journalists, photographers, graphic designers and more – really talented and dedicated people – without jobs. The tectonic shift in the news industry – most specifically in newspapers – has forced century’s old established and respected newspapers to shutter their doors, leaving those talented and dedicated people to scramble to find employment. That has left whole communities without viable news coverage and, therefore, without viable means for community members to know what they need and should know.
I know, I know, I am not the only one feeling the pain of the recession. Others have been out of work for longer or have lost their homes to foreclosure. But on Saturday it will be nine months since I was laid off; I really never thought I would be out of work for this long.
On a typical day I look at about a dozen job websites for journalism jobs, because I am a trained journalist. I have a degree and everything.
But I also look well beyond those journalism job websites. When I was laid off, I decided I wanted to do something good and worthwhile in my next job, something that I could point to with pride. Working for newspapers it was sometimes easier in some social environments to shy away from telling strangers what I did for a living. You can never tell how a person is going to react to the fact that you work in newspapers. Sometimes people are impressed and comment on the “glamorous” aspects of the job.
But, frankly, there is very little “glamorous” about sitting in the chamber of a governing board waiting for elected officials to get to the one really important item on a long agenda, only for the board to put off a decision on the item to a subsequent meeting. Nor is there anything glamorous in covering a fatal traffic crash or talking to a family after they have lost a loved one in a drowning accident. There just is no way to spin that into something “glamorous.”
And then there are cases in which people who feel they have been slighted by a newspaper, or did not like the coverage of an event or issue, or who take the blame-the-media-for-everything route can be rather aggressive in telling you off. Sometimes it is just better to avoid that sort of thing.
So I do not feel that I must stay in journalism. I usually look at another dozen or so websites for government and nonprofit jobs, and another handful of job websites for green jobs. In most cases, the skills I honed during 22 years in journalism working as a reporter, copy editor, columnist, assistant news editor, assistant city editor and website staff writer do not translate as easily into other industries as I thought they would.
I have thought about going back to school to refine old skills or learn new skills, but that will cost money I do not have and take another year or so to complete, which means even more time spent away from building a future. And that would mean I would be re-entering the job market when I am nearing 50 … and with student loans.
There are good days – on those rare occasions when there are multiple visits to my online portfolio or to this blog – and low days. A low day was yesterday when I realized that the federal subsidy for COBRA had expired and I very likely will move into the new year without health insurance for the first time in my life – no health insurance for the first time in my life.
So what do I do? I keep plugging away. I keep moving forward, one step after another. When I feel particularly frustrated and discouraged about the job hunt – my sister says “job hunt” sounds as if it is more directed than “job search,” which gives off the vibe of being slightly less, well, directed – I then shift gears and work on the blog. It does not move me forward in my job search, er, job hunt, but it helps me maintain a relative level of sanity and I do not lose ground since I am writing and able to point to something fairly constructive.
After I post this, I plan to move forward again with the job search. There is a chance that a new job, one perfectly suited for me, will have been posted and I will spot it during my second pass of the day of those websites.