Fears, unemployment and tough love

The other evening I called a friend to ask if they were attending an event. Instead of a yes or no answer, the conversation turned to his spiraling financial crisis.

This is not the first time I have heard about his issues with money. I have lent a sympathetic ear for many years. Sometimes I have asked what is he going to do, other times, I have suggested he might need to look for a job.

He has been a caregiver for many years; his father had ALS and now his mother has severe dementia.

Several years ago, his father passed away and he had to sell the house where he was living with his mother. They could not afford the mortgage payment.

He has worked sporadically – mostly from the house as a day trader or selling web hosting services. At one point, he worked in a company for a couple of weeks and he was let go.

It has been many years since he worked in a steady job and when he did it was in his family’s business.

He tells me he has $12 in his pocket. He has been living on his credit cards the past few months. All the money from the sale of the house is gone. His mother’s social security check will not arrive for another 15 days. He has no other income coming in – and that I do not understand.

Here is how the conversation ensues:

“No one wants to hire me. I went to one store and put in an application and never heard back from them. The next time I was in there, they had hired a good looking girl in her 20’s,” he says.

“How many applications have you put in?” I ask.

“It just doesn’t do any good. I can do a lot of different things. It is really rough out there. No one wants to hire someone my age (he is in his early 60’s) and because I have not worked in so many years, they think something is wrong with me.”

“So, how many applications have you put in?”

“There are no places for me to apply to. Take a look at Blockbusters – they are probably going to be closing their stores. No one is hiring right now. You just don’t understand.” (I think by now you know the answer to how many applications he has put in).

“I do understand, more than you may realize. You do not have any money. For things to change, you have to generate an income. If you are not putting in applications to businesses, how does anyone know you are looking for a job? No one will knock on your door unless you invite them to contact you. Find a place where you start at the bottom.”

“You just don’t understand – no one wants me. People who have college degrees are accepting minimum wage jobs.”

“I realize that it is hard to take rejection. There are a lot of people out of work right now. There are more people vying for a position than five years ago. However, there are thousands of businesses you can apply to in the area. Pick up the yellow pages – it is filled with businesses that need employees.

Set a goal to apply to ten places every day. Make a commitment to yourself to do that each day before you do anything else, otherwise, something else will come up. People I have spoken with have sent out over 200 resumes or applications and have not found a job. The only way to increase your odds of getting a job is to apply for one.”

“It is just not going to work. I have tried. The places I could work are not hiring.”

“Put in applications at businesses that are hiring or are not hiring. A good business will keep your application on file and if someone quits, they will go to that file first to see if someone is available to avoid paying a recruiter or incurring advertising expenses. This may give you an edge in your search efforts.”

“Let me ask you something. Are you happy with where things are at right now?” I ask.

“What do you mean?”

“Are you happy with your financial situation?”

“Well no, of course not.”

“If you keep doing the same thing, I can bet you will get the same result. You have to do something different create a new outcome.”

Here’s the question – who understands what?

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

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  1. Great blog post Lynn. I have been volunteering as a Leader for a Career Network group for the past 5 years. It is amazing how many people regardless of age, education or experience fall victim to negative self-talk. It is perhaps the single greatest contributor to job seeking failure I have witnessed. It is imperative that job seekers remain positive, upbeat and encouraged, or they will fall victim to their own self-fulfilling prophecy. Sounds harsh considering their circumstances, but can be done!

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  2. Lynn – you are so spot-on with this one. I was having visions of people I personally know, as I was reading this, hehe. Yes, the economy bad, but people have almost taken to capitalizing on the FACT that the economy is bad, by giving up and thus assuming it’s not their fault, so why put in the effort? But of course, nothing changes, and they gain nothing, so theory they’re not actually “capitalizing”. But yes, people have become far too reliant on using the “state of the job market” as an excuse for not getting what they way. Accountability is in short supply!

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  3. Lynn and all:
    Very good post/comments. It is easy to become discouraged, to give up. Over the last several years I’ve seen it happen time and time again to talented people. However, three of the things I’ve learned from others are —
    1.) keep learning. Use free time to research and consume information about anything and everything even remotely relevant to your job-related interests.
    2.) Constantly re-invent yourself. That’s not to say that you focus on being a nuerosurgeon one week and a plumber the next. But rather take core strengths and capabilities and update them or cast them in a new, relevant light. (via item #1). The activity takes your mind off of the negative aspects of the effort/struggle, and it opens more doors.
    And 3.), network, network, network
    I’ve learned this from others who successfully overcame dire employment/financial straits, and have religiously adhered to it as a practice even though I am employed.
    Final comment — I’ve pretty much held a steady job since I was 16, which was 1963. The jobless recovery back in the 80’s was bad, but this job market is the worst I’ve ever seen. That said, there are jobs out there, even for those who have been out of the market place. Given what your friend has been doing, he should be looking at senior citizen/senior health care facilities. They usually are looking for help, and he has some relevant hands-on experience.

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  4. hi, your suggestions are good on a surface level. but there is something deeper going on with your friend. until some things on his mental and “spiritual” realm are addressed, nothing is going to change even if he sent out 100 applications a day. i am an EFT coach and guide; i can run some numbers for him as well and see if he is totally following a wrong career direction. Have him email me
    ( kattalina9@sbcglobal.net) with his phone number, i will give him a free intro session.

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  5. The victim mentality is easy to fall prey to when times are tough but as the old adage goes – when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I have worked with people who have been unemployed for long stretches of time as well and also those who were in positions for many years who have all of a sudden found themselves without work. Because they haven’t had to be in the job market searching, they really don’t know how to go about putting themselves out there. What I have usually told them is that looking for work is in itself a full time job. You gave your friend good advice in my opinion. I also encourage people to do information interviews and as someone else has mentioned; network, network, network.

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  6. It’s a shame really when everyone seems to think that being positive and networking will absolutely work. Been there, done that….and keep doing it, but I’ll tell you, it’s exhausting. All the positivity in the world doesn’t make it easy to get out of the bed in the morning when you’ve watched your future career evaporate before your eyes. Don’t mean to be a debbie downer here, but sometimes a bit of realism needs to sneak in.

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  7. Thank you for the encouragement and the reminder for persistent job search techniques. I’m in job search and got lost in my part time job. I am going to try informational interviews.

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