Tag Archives: UI

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.

Yet.

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.

X marks the spot, but it has nothing to do with pirates

X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

In ancient tales of pirates and their bold deeds, the ribbon of the stories’ plots with few exceptions twirled their way to one common element – booty.

No, not that “booty.”

Treasure, buried or otherwise – that’s the booty.

And with few exceptions, a map to the booty included an X to mark the location where the booty – the treasure – could be found. X marks the spot, the saying goes.

Inevitably, the map was either faked, or the X really didn’t mark the actual location of the treasure or mutiny and treachery prevented story stakeholders from learning the final disposition of the buried booty.

Or there was no treasure in the first place.

Of course, in most cases X didn’t actually mark the spot. Instead, it symbolized other things – greed mostly, but also dreams, aspirations, hope, and, since we are talking pirates, lots and lots of grog.

For me, however, an X this week meant a completely different thing.

It means that thread-worn safety net called unemployment insurance – simply UI for those of us unfortunate to have needed it – is coming to an end. Without further congressional action, many of the 15 million Americans out of work will also be out of luck.

You see, there is a box on the front of unemployment insurance continued claim form, under question No. 3, to be precise – that until this point had gone unfilled. The unemployment rate had been so high, the extensions coming, and other factors, that people legitimately out of work did not see the X in the box.

The X means someone on UI must turn over the form and fill in the information on the companies at which the claimant has applied for work. Seeking employment is a requirement of continued UI, but without the X to mark the spot, a claimant needed only answer “yes” to the question “Did you look for work?”

The X – along with the additional eligibility requirements for Federal-State Extended Duration Benefits, or Fed-Ed extension – means a claimant must provide the following information for potential employers contacted each week:

  • Date applied
  • Company name
  • Company address (Internet address is acceptable.)
  • Person contacted
  • Type of work applied
  • Results of the contact

The EDD knows that looking for work does not always mean an opportunity to fill out an application. But the requirements are what the requirements are and it means added anxiety and pressure to find at least three jobs each week for the form.

I wish there was buried booty where X marks the spot, but there is not. Where the X marks the spot are renewed feelings of failure, demoralization and concern for what the future may bring. It brings crashing down the house of cards that is the UI stopgap measure.

 EDD outsourcing their replies?

Here’s a sidebar to this whole thing. My latest continued claim form arrived last week, which was followed earlier this week by a form letter informing me of the number of employer contacts I needed to make each week – three.

The problem: The second form arrived too late for me to make adjustments for the first week, a week in which I applied for one job, but had a couple of phone interviews. The “three employer contact” rule seems reasonable – my personal goal each week was to apply for at least five jobs – but out of fairness to the claimant, the information should come along with the continued claim form.

I tried calling EDD to address my concerns, but calling the toll-free number led to a recorded message that provided another toll-free number, which led to another recorded message, that provided the first toll-free number. That, my friends, is a bureaucratic merry-go-round. There were no obvious options to be directed to a live person – although I since have been told that I should have dialed the first number and punched in 0 for an operator – so I went to the EDD website and used their online “Contact EDD” form.

I’m not sure, but EDD may have outsourced their reply services because the reply I received the next day was very nearly nonsensical. I asked several specific questions and received in reply: “Your feded [sic] claim was filed effective 09-XX-10 employers: on newpapers [sic], word of mouth, net working [sic], t.v., radio from friends and relatives maybe some of the source Good luck Thank you kindly.”

The reply – who in this country uses “thank you kindly” – failed to answer any of the questions I poised in my email to EDD. I suppose I’ll do the best I can to fill out the form this time around and pray that I am not determined ineligible. If I am determined ineligible, I suppose I could always search for buried treasure. … Now, where did I put that eye patch.