My best hasn’t been good enough – yet

 Today marks 20 months since I was laid off.

There are times it feels as if it happened just yesterday. Or a million years ago.

And there are other times when it feels as if this is all part of a very, very bad nightmare from which I will awake.

Eventually. Soon. … Anytime now.

In those 20 months I’ve sent out hundreds of resume packages, filled out countless applications, and uploaded my resume onto dozens of websites. I put in at least six to 12 hours every day seeking suitable employment. I look and look and look. I network. I blog. I lament.

And, so far, that effort has resulted in a handful of face-to-face interviews, a couple of phone interviews, and a few thanks-but-no-thanks rejection letters.

But no job offers.


As it has been for so many Americans – still nearly 15 million Americans, in fact – finding work as been elusive – frustrating, maddening, demoralizing – and it doesn’t seem as if things are getting much better. The national unemployment rate is stuck at 9.6 percent and I live in a county in Northern California where the unemployment rate hovers at 16.6 percent.

I blame the Republicans. I blame the Democrats. I blame Wall Street bankers. I blame greedy industrialists.

I blame everyone, including myself.

After all, I should have peered into a crystal ball and seen coming the collapse of the newspaper industry – and the housing industry and the automobile industry and every other industry that isn’t Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft or … . Well, you get the point.

I blame myself because while I was working for a living, I neglected to take time off from work to train to be proficient in the latest necessary skills I might or might not need sometime in the distant or not-so-distant future.

Of course, “the latest necessary skills” fluctuate every couple of years so I suppose I could have worked for a year and taken more time off for training in “the latest necessary skills” and continued that cycle.

But no. I worked. For 22 years. In an industry that continues to undergo convulsions.

And now I have little to show for those 22 years of hard work. No income. No health insurance. No prospects.

And dwindling hope that I will find a new job before my Unemployment Insurance benefits expire at the beginning of 2011.

In the past 20 months people have told me “You have to reinvent yourself,” “You have to be entrepreneurial,” “You have to start your own business,” “You should write a book,” “You should …”.

You get the point. All great ideas, but reinvent myself into what? I don’t even balance my checkbook, how could I be an entrepreneur or start a business? And don’t people realize how many books are written and how very few are actually published?

But even after all the disappointment, all the setbacks, all the failed efforts, I still believe I can contribute in some way. I continue to seek suitable employment in newspapers or using my skills working for a nonprofit or in green industry or government. I keep seeking any escape from the way things are now so that I can get my life back on track.

I continue to follow the mantra – one step forward every day. One step forward today, tomorrow and the next day.

4 responses to “My best hasn’t been good enough – yet

  1. Keith, you are way more optimistic than me. I just became a 99er last week and am waiting for my very last unemployment check. I was laid on 11/30/08 and I am in my early 40’s.

    I have good and updated skills. I’m a graphic designer with 15 years experience, and worked up to being a manager (which is why I can’t get hired I suppose). I have two Bachelor’s degrees (Art and English) and am currently working on a Masters in communication.

    In almost two years, the only permanent job I’ve been able to get is at my college, a student worker gig that pays minimum wage for 10-15 hours a week (about $90). I think they felt sorry for me. I was REJECTED by many retail establishments, including: Trader Joes, Target, Walmart, Giant, Old Navy, Borders, and ToysRUs. When I interviewed at Target, I was told “I would be bored” and “would only leave when things got better.” The other places never even bothered to call me.

    I sometimes wonder if I will ever find work again. Without anymore unemployment, I can no longer afford to pay my bills, which will then ruin my credit, thus making it even harder to find a job. I try to ignore the despair that is rapidly setting in, but am finding it increasingly harder to do so.

    • Dear Miss Displaced:
      I really wish there was something I could say or do to encourage you, to give you hope. For me, there simply is no choice but to keep leaning forward. I don’t always make forward progress, but at least I keep trying.
      It appears your educational credentials are superior to mine (BA from a state university) and your age is less of a barrier than mine is for me. I’m 48 and I’ve seen far too many news stories about how workers 50 and older may never work again. I hold out hope that you will find suitable employment soon, even if you do not hold the same hope for yourself.
      Please let me know how things go.
      Good luck,

  2. Thanks Keith. I try very hard to persevere as well, but something just got to me this last week or two. Perhaps it was the election. I felt very upset, angry, etc. that our so-called “leaders” and wanna-be “leaders” would disparage the unemployed in so many ways. Is that what being a leader of our country is for: to kick the already downsized and downtrodden?

    The jobless situation is probably the most urgent in America since the Great Depression, yet the 99ers and soon-to-be 99ers seem to have become this generations forgotten men and women.

    What are we to do when the safety net tears and the support money runs out? Are we really to go from middle-class to homelessness in the space of two years?

  3. I wish I had answers for you and the rest of this country. I really do. And I realize my attitude likely will change around the holidays. They were particularly difficult last year and I doubt they will be better this year. (Difficult because of the joblessness/lack of salary and because I live in California and my family lives in New England; I haven’t seen my family in a while.)

    Do you hope for a graphic designer job? Would you like me to pass along listings I might come across? Would you like to become one of my LinkedIn connections? I don’t have very many connections, but my connections have connections. (That very nearly sounds like a line from a gangster movie.) Here’s the URL:

    Well, take care and good luck.

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