For the unemployed, summer a season of angst

What is it about being laid off during the summer? One could make the compelling argument that Christmas is worse. But having experienced this twice now, there is something about the slowness of the summer that makes the experience of being unemployed feel even worse.

There seems to be a lot of resume collecting but not a whole lot of hiring going on. Not being a business expert, it’s a bit hard to figure this one out. Based on my limited experience, there must be market and tax incentives to not do much hiring during the summer months. In South Florida this tends to mirror the real estate market where it gets slow during the summer.

But the real issue is that when you are unemployed, you have time off during the summer but you don’t get to enjoy it. It’s like having your face pressed up against the glass of a candy store window. You see all the lovely, yummy goodness inside but you can’t really enjoy it because you are engaged in a mad scramble to find the work that is advertised but isn’t coming your way. As a result, you have to try harder to continue to make the ends meet as best as you can during the time everybody else is either earning their W2 income or is enjoying a vacation.

And you have to listen to everyone else tell you “at least you have some time off.”

Grrr! You, on the other hand, have done all you can to ensure you’ll make it for at least one more month, but you hope to God nothing of substance goes wrong, or that you don’t get sick. That is the surest way to land out on the street in a hurry.

Keats called Autumn a “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.” For the unemployed, Summer might be called a season of sunny angst and opportunities lost.

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Unemployment benefits claims can be a drag

Claiming your weeks for unemployment benefits can demoralizing. After doing the difficult work of putting aside your pride and pushing through the denial, the first hurdle is getting through the initial registration process. In Florida at least, this seems to go on forever. You have to check off box after box on multiple pages to get registered. Then, after you’ve provided all the information required, which usually includes a wild goose chase on your part to secure the necessary records, you reach the end. It gives you an 18 page summary and somewhere on page three that is easy to miss it tells you when you can expect to make your first claim.

My date was wrong, of course.

When you do claim your weeks you will be required to enter your prospective employers one at a time. Each time it is a long form that you will have to fill out. Between the two weeks you will do this a total of ten times. That will quite likely be disheartening because most of the time the response you log into the form will be either “No response” or “Not hired.”

The good news is that you can expect to be paid quickly. Make sure that you have them do a direct deposit of the unemployment benefits into your bank account. You do not want to deal with checks in this day and age.

At some point, you can expect to hear from the state’s department that is responsible for paying out your benefits. They will likely schedule you for an appointment at a local office to introduce you to their services. This will qualify you for an official weeks entry. You can also expect a necessary check-in call with a representative as well.

In the end, the purpose is to get off of unemployment benefits and back into the workforce earning W2 income again. Ideally, you are not going to be doing this long enough to get very good at it.

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Making choices when unemployment threatens your dreams

One of the biggest problems with unemployment is how it wrecks all the dreams you had. Joseph Campbell’s insight that “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned , so as to have the life that is waiting for us” is a lot easier to swallow when you have resources and aren’t worrying about going broke in a month because you don’t have reliable W2 income.

There are the things you wanted when the money was coming in: property, a new car, maybe even a girl and family. Then the work disappeared and now you’re wondering “What the hell am I going to do now?” Your reality is completely altered and, if you are single, you probably don’t have someone to pick up the slack.

So what do you do? You have a couple of options: surrender the dream, hold on to it tightly, amend it. Continue reading

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Staying positive in the face of unemployment

Trying to stay positive when you are unemployed is a daily chore. This is very important because you are very likely to be facing a lot of rejection and you won’t be hearing much in the way of responses from potential employers. You may also be making a lot of mistakes learning a new job skill. This is when positive psychology can help you during your period of unemployment.

For those of you who may not know, there is more to modern psychology than treating psychosis and repairing emotional damage. Researchers are looking into what makes us healthy. For the member of the unemployed, four factors come into play: exercise, hobbies, connections, and gratitude. Continue reading

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Being laid off second time provides painful lessons

It feels like one of the worst times to get laid off is during mid-summer. There are plenty of jobs being advertised, but no actual hiring is taking place.

In this process there is always the false start. It happened the last time, and it has happened this time. You get a hit almost as soon as you begin, then it goes cold almost immediately. It’s a real letdown.

Here are a couple of lessons I learned from the experience I just had going from unemployment, to employment, and back to the bread line: Continue reading

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Back on the South Florida unemployment line

It’s been a long, strange trip indeed. After four and a half long months of unemployment in sunny South Florida, I did what seemed to be the impossible: In December of 2012 I went back to work at a new job that actually paid me more than I was making at my previous job!

It was a fantasy made real! I could not make this up. I started in a telecommuting position. That became an office position that had all of the Dilbertian trappings of status: an office with a door, wood furniture and a window! And I was responsible for one extremely competent and hardworking onsite employee and one remote employee.

But then the ax came down. After six months my position was eliminated. I was unemployed, once again through no fault of my own. It was a shock and there was plenty of disappointment. It happened first thing in the morning. I had not been in my nice, high-back leather chair for very long before my boss and a company witness stepped into my office bearing a blue folder, some paperwork for me to sign and assurances that this was not performance based and that I could depend on them for a reference.

Continue reading

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Family, friends provide support in time of loss

As the saying goes, “It never rains but it pours.” And when there is the loss of something so fundamental as a job you lose other precious things along the way. You stand to lose a car, a home, vital services, a relationship. You lose possessions, either in transit or to pay essential debts.

In my case, I not only lost a home, I lost something else very dear to me: my two cats. It was an emotional attachment, a relationship that lasted 14 years. And they died two months to the day of each other. Anyone who has ever owned a pet can appreciate both the joy that pets can bring and the pain that goes with their passing. Continue reading

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Maintaining balance in the face of the interview process

While there is a certain thrill in the interview process, the real challenge is to maintain an emotional equilibrium. It feels good to be invited to visit an office after a successful phone interview. It feels wonderful to be in the presence of a real person who may be able to offer more than what you have now: unemployment benefits.

But there is the ever-lurking fear that this may go nowhere. The sobering reality is that if this doesn’t result in employment, then you are right back where you started. Continue reading

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Hope remains despite loss of home

There is a serious discombobulation that sets in when you move out of your home. It is there because you didn’t make the move on your terms, it’s there because you were forced to by your economic circumstances. I was able to hold out for four fun-filled months of denial before being forced to accept the ugly reality. I count myself extremely lucky because I had a place to go. Not everybody gets that lucky.

It was a controlled ‘dead stick’ landing. I took weeks getting my things placed into storage in an attempt to manage the descent. The final few days of the move out had an operational tempo the likes of which I had not experienced since I was in the Navy. Like so many others, I had plans, I had hopes. All those plans and hopes vanished like so much dew on the grass in the harsh light of day when the axe came down. Continue reading

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Getting an education during grant orientation

They call us dislocated workers. The State of Florida’s training programs are designed to work within your existing skill set to place you in a new job environment. But not all jobs are created equal. Additionally, you may not be able to radically change your training unless you can show that you are in a saturated job field. Continue reading

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