Well, I have been unemployed for about 3 ½ months now. I am coming very close to the end of my severance pay. I have been doing all the things I am supposed to do to qualify for Unemployment Assistance. I have been sending out my resumes, hoping to hook one interview. And the clock keeps ticking!
The last time I was laid off from a job was a little over twenty years ago! Back then, the company I worked for provided outplacement sessions, with a counselor. The state maintained its own unemployment assistance offices, where you had to go to each week. While there, you applied for the next week’s benefit; presented a log of your job search activities, and was able to resolve any issues with a real human person in front of you. While you there, you could check the hard copy listing of job openings, and schedule time on some of the center’s computers.
Now, everything is either done online, or over the telephone. The company hired an outplacement specialist, who worked with me by phone and e-mail. The state no longer has its own branch office, but has contracted with non-profit Career Placement agencies, to provide training on how to search for jobs online, using social media, and opportunities to improve one’s computer skills. You now have to set up an online account with Unemployment Assistance, to make benefit requests, and keep track of your benefits. If you need to speak with a human person, it is over the telephone, and depending on your Social Security Number, you are limited to a particular day to call. Instead of searching the newspapers, you job search on-line; sites like: Monster, Indeed, and Simply Hired, become familiar names to you. Companies now ask that you submit your resumes and cover letters via the Web. There is no address to send a letter to; there is no name or telephone number to call for a follow-up. You just get a form e-mail, confirming the receipt of your electronic job application.
I spend my mornings checking the online job search sites, and I get e-mails from them with job listings. I have sent numerous electronic applications, and attended some job fairs. And I have not gotten a single bite. Come the end of May, the financial situation is going to get very tough. My wife and I are examining possible options, her parents and our siblings have been helping out, and are brainstorming ways to help us through this. Still, I am finding it harder and harder to sit myself in front of the computer. And I will admit that depression, and yes, fear is reaching out for my soul.
In moments like this, I turn to prayer, whether in solitude, during the celebration of the Eucharist, or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. And I have turned again to the Psalms:
In you, Lord, I take refuge;
Let me never be put to shame.
In your justice deliver me;
Incline your ear to me;
Make haste to rescue me!
Be my rock of refuge,
A stronghold to save me.
(Psalm 31: 1-3)