Being Selective With What I share On My Job Search.

In one week, I’ll have been without a full-time job for 10 months.

Then, I’ll provide a full update, but I sort of can’t believe that I’m still on the job hunt and still living on tiny paychecks from my part-time retail job combined with my savings account (which is nearly empty).

There have been so many things that have been difficult for me during these 10 months, but one of the most challenging aspects is people not understanding why I haven’t found a job yet.

I’ll admit that, in the past, finding a job has been relatively easy for me.

I’m a really hard worker, and not only have I been working as a writer for 20 years, but I usually held down more than one job at once.

That means I’ve written thousands of articles over the years (on top of writing books, scripts, and press releases). I also worked as an SEO Analyst, so I know how to put data behind my work. I’m certified in everything that comes along with it, too.

But no matter how awesome I am, I’m in a boat with nearly 300,000 other people looking for work.

The tech ship we were all floating on sank, Titanic-style, and we are all battling over the same life rafts.

Sometimes I apply to jobs that say I’m up against 900 other applications. Think about that: nine hundred.

This is not “Legally Blonde,” where a spritz of perfume and strawberry-scented ink will help me stand out. It’s all digital forms and information parsing.

In past job searches, my experience gave me a leg up. My ability to smile through interviews and be personable was enough to get me to the next round. And my thank you emails got me actual job offers.

In today’s market, 70 job applications result in two first-round interviews, which will ultimately be rejection emails stating that they passed you (the person with 16 years of experience) up for someone that had double the amount of experience for a role that only required three years of experience.

This is what happens when there’s an overstock of supply and not enough demand.

Tough market? I’d say.

But try explaining this to a friend or a family member who’s had the same job for at least a decade or to someone who’s never been laid off.

When someone asked me, “How are things going?” last week, I burst into tears.

When they were confused as to why I was upset, I didn’t understand. I’ve been without a job for 10 months! What else is there to understand?

At times, I’ve felt like no one is taking our experience as job hunters right now very seriously.

It’s terrifying, and there are moments when I wonder if I’ll ever be a part of a team again. Will I ever get a regular paycheck that covers my rent again? Will I ever be paid to write again? Will I ever be able to save money again?

Since the fall, I’ve had a steady freelance client, but even she hasn’t understood my job situation.

She was shocked when I had to admit that I never quit my holiday retail job.

“Why?” she asked me. “I thought you didn’t like working there.”

Well, I don’t. I explained to her that I’d be homeless without my retail job, though, even if I only make $14.25 an hour.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like she cut my freelance hours as a result of me having a retail job, which has been incredibly counterproductive.

Sure, I’m not always available between 9-5 if I have to clock in to work the cash register, but I’ll work 23 hours a day if I have to.

Work is still work, and well, money is still money.

I can’t justify quitting any job when, even with my part-time job and single freelance gig, I can’t make ends meet.

I’ll be honest: there have been times when I wonder if the people watching my life online or from afar just see this as a giant, entertaining joke.

I don’t know if any of this makes much sense or if I’m just a stressed-out ball of emotions.

But, if you know someone on the job hunt right now, show a little compassion.

Don’t gasp when they tell you how tough it is out there or that they’ve applied to 400 jobs and only had 10 interviews.

Instead, look through your network. Is there a referral you can offer or a connection you can make for them?

Maybe you’re in a position to help them spruce up their resume or work on a better cover letter.

As for me, I’m being very selective with the information I share and with whom I share it.

I thought that sharing updates on social media about my job search would make me feel better. I thought I’d get messages of support and hear from others going through the same thing. Maybe my story could inspire someone else. 

Instead, I get mostly silence (which is on me for expecting anything out of social media). But I’ve also gotten weird (and rude) questions. Just a note that asking me if I’ve ever considered being a waitress or a bartender is offensive. 

I’m a professional writer with 15+ years of experience. I’m not too good for any job, and yes, I have spent many years working as a bartender and a waitress. But that is not what I want in life, nor is it what I deserve. 

So I’ve promised myself that there will be no more updates on Instagram about my job search or interviews I’m having. I’m also trying to put things into perspective and not be so negative about my retail job — our thoughts are the house we live in, and I want mine to be a happy one.

I keep up with others who are in the same boat. They’re applying for jobs left and right, and some are lining up at the food bank for a box of chicken and rice. Others are ditching their original career plans and starting entirely new ones.

This is the current reality for so many people right now, and it is so fucking scary.

Please be kind to us, listen when we talk, and help when you can.

To see more writing from me, be sure to subscribe to The Bitter Lemon by clicking “subscribe” on the right side of your screen. Want even more? Subscribe to my newsletter to get roundups, book recs and lifestyle tips. 

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