It’s been three weeks now since the company you worked with for two years closed down. Through no fault of your own, you are out of a job and rapidly running out of cash. You have signed on for unemployment assistance but your heart is not in it. You are embarrassed and are avoiding your friends. You listen to the news and you find out that the country is awash with new jobs. There’s the US multi-national in Cork creating a hundred jobs in the pharmaceutical sector over the next two years, and the IT company in Limerick promising to hire fifty new graduates this year. Then there’s the online gaming company in Galway looking for dozens of software writers and support engineers, and the call centre in Waterford, with sixty seats to fill, not to mention the hundred thousand internships in Job Bridge and Jobs Plus.
So how come you are not punching the air with joy? Well, you could be experiencing the Five Stages of Grief that inevitably most job applicants suffer from. Whether it is registering with a head-hunter, joining an online jobs board, sending a CV to a PO Box in the newspaper, or signing on with FAS, the default process is usually along these lines; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.
Denial – You have sent out 150 resumes in the past week’s frenetic anxt to get a job, any job, anywhere, fast. You used the scatter-gun approach. You applied for positions like it was a clay-pigeon shooting competition. Pull. More is better, right? Pull again! The jobs you applied for ranged from CEO in an FMCG company (wtf is that?) to Lead Project Manager in SAP (that one took two hours to complete online). Your post office should be offering frequent stamp-buyer points to you!
Your resume has been done, and re-done so often now, that even you don’t recognise yourself in it anymore. You have paper cuts from folding A4 pages and the ink-stain on your hands just might be permanent, having bought the cheapest ink-refill cartridges you could find, only to see them bleed-out all over your ‘looks like you bought it in Ikea’ home computer station. Eventually you printed the CV’s and cover letters on your neighbor’s home printer, making a mental note to buy him a ream of laser jet paper…would he notice if you just bought the cheaper photocopy stuff in B&Q?
You buy a pack of 500 envelopes (why don’t they sell them by the dozen?) and you set up a little assembly line at home, inserting letters and resumes into envelopes and then licking them closed, until you noticed that the calousses on your thumbs were matched by the allergic lumps on your tongue from stamp-glue. You now prefer the taste of the 65 cents stamps over the 5 cents ones that you bought to make up the postage on the left-over Christmas stamps from 2010, that you found in your car’s sun visor.
Your first batch of Resumes were all posted at your local post office, but you don’t like the looks the staff give you, as you wait around for an hour to make sure the post office van arrives from the sorting office to pick up the mail at 5pm, like it says on the box. In the following days, you take to posting the envelopes in different towns, driving from post-box to post box, figuring one of them has got to be ‘your lucky box’. Occasionally you wonder if the cover letters matched the carefully hand-written addresses on the outside of the envelopes, then you dismiss that thought as paranoia. As you look at the last letter in your hand, you try to remember what exactly was the job that you applied for at Price Waterhouse? Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained eh, and you pop it in the post-box near the hospital car park which you notice is full. Hmm…might be a chance to start a mobile car-valeting business here. You make mental note to research that field, or did you already do that last week?
In the meantime, you have started your online job-seeker onslaught. Your wife and family are informed that you are not to be disturbed, except at mealtimes, while you continue to trawl the net for ‘the perfect job’.
For the first time in your life you are able to accurately calculate the time it takes to load a ‘Monster Jobs’ job page to within a nano-second. After three days without shaving and consuming double-digit coffees you conclude that you have ‘done the net’. Conservatively you have registered with over ninety head-hunters, twenty-seven online jobs boards, forty-two self-help groups including iCanWork4U at http://www.icanwork4u.com In rapid time, you have sent your now newly-edited resume to over three hundred employers in two days. You are bursting with confidence. The radio were right. There are thousands of jobs out there, and one of them is yours.
Anger – Your routine is set. 7am rise. Get children to school. Buy the paper, scan the headlines, then straight to the jobs section. Home by 8.45am to wait for the postman. You wait every morning, even the mornings you know there is no postal delivery, looking for the anticipated flood of enthusiastic replies. You wonder if there is any chance that there is a postal strike on, that you haven’t heard of? Heck, you don’t even get junk mail. There must be something wrong! You go down to the post office to see if there is a bundle of mail for you that your postman overlooked. No luck, but you do notice the clerk is hovering over his panic button and seems to be edging to the exit door. You catch yourself looking furtively at the CC TV cameras in the post office.
At home, you wait by the PC, which you have moved downstairs to the hall-way, so that you can observe the your post-box, land-line phone, mobile phone and email without moving. You make more coffee. The dog needs walking, the grass needs cutting and the kids have to be picked up from school, but there is always one more resume to send out, one more job posting to look at online, one more head-hunter calling at 3pm to interview you for ‘her files’. You are so busy you forget to pick up the kids. You get a phone call from the school. Your wife is less than understanding.
The frustration is building. The questions are damming up in your head. Why isn’t the phone ringing? Maybe it’s dead? You call it from your land-line. Why is the postman avoiding my house? Jeez, What is wrong with this internet connection? It would be faster walking to the FAS office than trying to log onto their website. Does anyone answer emails anymore. The voice-prompts at the Dole office have changed, you can never get a live person. What is wrong with this country? You are now on a one-man quest for a job, to the denial of all else. Isolation is your middle name! You are totally consumed, focussed on only one goal. Get a Job.
You begin to put on weight. You avoid the pub, settling instead for the lower-priced wine in the ‘offie’. You are cranky. You are depressed. Everyone else around you is concerned, but you don’t even notice. Your frustration is beginning to turn to anger. Your anger has no vent valve. You know something is wrong when your bank-statement comes in the post. You are in overdraft! You know this is not working. You need to re-evaluate your work expectation. You need to relax too, but you cannot while the stress builds, and builds. Something’s gotta give! (that’s the next post).