by Tom Faulkner
I recently went through two months of involuntary unemployment. I was fresh out of college and naïvely thought that I would find a good job relatively quickly. I had all the things an employer should want. I was eager to work, had graduated with honors, and had a prestigious internship on my resume.
I had my first interview right after graduation. My girlfriend’s roommate referred me to the company where she worked. I thought the interview was a slam-dunk. Ultimately, though, they went with someone who was a “smooth talker.”
That was the first and last job lead referred to me personally. Two months later I was still unemployed. I emailed and snail-mailed so many cover letters and resumes that I lost track of how many I’d sent out. I made follow up calls when I could. Usually though, there was no name or number given to follow up with. Occasionally I would receive a postcard acknowledging the receipt of my application. The summary of the postcards was, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
I realize that I am fortunate. Unlike many others, I had the financial safety net of my family. They were happy to have me home and pay my few bills as long as I was seriously job hunting. My girlfriend was also very supportive.
Despite the financial and emotional support, my situation was difficult. I had feelings of uselessness and worthlessness. I am an independent person; so it was difficult for me to concede that I needed help. Boredom was also a problem. After I had exhausted the new job postings, I did not have much to do while family and friends were at work. I could not afford to go anywhere to spend time (or money!). That left me waiting by the phone. I eventually became a fixture at the local branch of the public library -- thankfully borrowing books is free.
My stroke of luck came to me while at my girlfriend’s place. The smooth talker who was hired in lieu of me apparently did not fit well with the company. The company was now looking for his replacement. I told my girlfriend’s roommate that I was still interested in the job.
The next day I received a call from the company. “Would I be interested in coming in for a ‘second interview’?” I went in and they hired me on the spot. My suspicion that they hired me in desperation is a little humbling, but by that point I could not have cared less.
I am very grateful that I have managed to get a good job. I know that there are others out there who are talented, smart, and well-qualified but just can’t seem to find work. My heart goes out to them. If you are one of those people, you should know one thing. It may feel like you are alone, but you are not. Don’t give up hope.