For the next three weeks, we will share stories of job seekers who have applied for a scholarship (see the application form here), so you can see how important it is that we get them the help they want and deserve, but can’t afford. Meet Kay*: Q: What’s the hardest part about unemployed long-term? A: Today I hit the official six-month anniversary of being unemployed... I believe the hardest part is the realization that this much time has passed and I am still unable to say that I have found a new position. I never thought this would happen to me--that I would land among the ranks of the long-term unemployed. The hardest part? There are many hardest parts. Unemployment has taken a real financial and emotional toll that is deep and daunting. I engage in a daily struggle to keep my head up, remain positive, and soldier on. I am 57 with a fabulous track record and strong experience in my field--I would be an asset to any agency or institution, yet I fear that my age and my experience may work against me in subtle and less subtle ways. As I struggle to push aside the stereotypes and remain on point and present in my job search, the bills are piling up, and I am becoming worried about the long-term implications--sliding credit rating, making the mortgage, keeping the heat on. To that anxiety, I add the reality that I may have to consider a major move to remain in my field, and that makes me very uneasy--even afraid. So far, I have managed to compartmentalize and push down the fear and anxiety, but the reality is, it is beginning to seep into every effort I make to get back on track in my work life. I have had a good number of interviews, but so far, nothing has clicked. The rejection is staggering! At this stage of my life, will I need to abandon a lifetime spent preparing for and working in my field? If so, how will I do that? Q: What have you been doing to look for work so far? A: Daily: I search the major employment websites for my field; I make use of vertical job search engines; I network in person and via LinkedIn; I subscribe to a number of career newsletters; I strive for self development and professional development using online resources. Weekly: I apply for positions that are a fit for my background, experience, and interests; I stretch to identify and apply for positions that are relevant to my experience yet perhaps not directly related to the work I have been doing throughout my career; I follow up with and reach out to prospective employers; I seek out consulting opportunities; I volunteer at a local agency. Periodically: I attend conferences and networking events. Q: Why do you feel our Job Search Accelerator Program can help you? A: I need outside help in seeing what I may not be seeing about the realities of my circumstances and the efforts that I am making in my job search. I need a new perspective, a renewed "kick in the butt," and additional insight beyond that which I bring to the process--a "reality check" of sorts to help me answer the following questions: Am I doing everything I can possibly do, to secure a new role in my field? Will I need to move into another area of employment? If so, how do I do that? Comments I subscribe to Peter Weddle's notion of being a "career activist," as opposed to a "job seeker." I wonder whether I am being too idealistic now, with six months' unemployment under my belt. It is so hard to start over, and I really don't want to settle, but the reality is that my savings are dwindling, and I need to bust a move, and soon! Kay* is one of the 30+ scholarship applicants we have received since launching Allies to the Out-of-Work. Want to know how you can help job seekers like her? Harnessing the power of the micro-fundraising site, Indiegogo.com, we launched a campaign to raise $10,000 that will give 100 long-term unemployed people a full scholarship to our Job Search Accelerator Program (JSAP). This program is helping hundreds of people find work. However, it’s not something we can give away for free. So, we are hoping to get donations from those of you out there who: A) Have been out of work recently and know how hard the job search really is. B) Know somebody long-term unemployed and want to sponsor them. C) Care about getting Americans back to work and on their feet.
February 23, 2013