BY: Deborah Levine Powell – “The Soulful Wonder Chef”
When I last left you guys, I was finishing up my last day at a job where I was employed for 20 years. I thought I would be so excited to have all this free time to myself. Within two days I was so bored. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I guess my desire to be a stay at home mom, while my kids are at school, doesn’t make so much sense anymore. I’m on a journey where I don’t know where it’s going, but I’m taking it all in, deep breaths and all.
I took a few days for myself to regroup, and went ahead and did something I’ve never had to do. I made a decision to go to the actual unemployment office. I’m old-school like that, and I like to do things in person. When I arrive there I had to wait because they weren’t open yet. I had to figure out on my own that you need to get your ID in order to get into the building. The employees there kind of grunt and nod their heads in the direction of a sign. The security guard made some small talk, took my ID and gave me a pass. He said to go to the room in the back and they will tell you what is next. Well, there were six rooms. I asked which one and he gave me the room number.
I walked into the room and there were several people seated at a desk. I ask them where I go to sign up for unemployment. They said, “we don’t answer questions here, just go to the computer and sign in.”.
I walk up to the computer and saw that I needed an employee to help me get into the system. As I realized this, a man who worked there came up and typed in a password. I go through filling out the employment application ( in my mind I am asking myself why am I here? Most likely due to my severance, I won’t even be eligible for this ). I fill out the application, and at the end, you have to print out the confirmation. I print the confirmation number, and I went to get it from the copy machine. I walked back up to the desk where the wonderful woman was still sitting and she proceeds to tell me “that’s impossible, there’s no way you finished that it takes 60 minutes to an hour and a half, “. I said, “well I’m done, I am a fast reader”. She turns to her colleague and said, “no way she is done in 15 minutes”.
She proceeds to ask what I do for a living. Without skipping a beat, I answered, “I work with mentally ill people, human trafficking cases, and people who are miserable at their career choices”.
I ask her, “now that I have a confirmation number, what I do next?”. She told me I have to wait for my letter in the mail. Another woman behind the counter interjects and gives me some job leads in my field.
While I was there, I decided to sign up for a resume class. I have not updated mine in over twenty years. I arrive again at the same desk, to the same person, with the same attitude, and I sign in for my resume class. The class starts, and I immediately feel smacked in the face. I was not the youngest person in the room, but I realized how out of touch I was with job hunting and resume writing. You are literally selling yourself and your skills to an employer.
My resume is basically the poster child for what not to do on your resume in 2018. I was deeply thankful for learning all that I did in this class. At the same time, I was completely petrified about being a 46-year-old woman, having to re-enter the workforce.
I was in a total panic by the time I walked out of that crap. I really did not understand how far out of touch I was with what is out there in the workforce. As I was walking out, my phone rang to a women telling me that her company couldn’t offer me the job I applied for. Apparently, I’m too experienced and they could not offer me what I was worth. Literally, this was just discussed in the resume class I took, that sometimes our resumes are actually a detriment.
I was feeling defeated for a moment and clearly a glutton for punishment. I walked back into the unemployment office, and sign up for another class on how to interview because now I realize I’m going to need some help here as well!
As luck would have it, I got the same wonderful individual who had “helped” me (NOT) the last few times.
As she actually looked up, the therapist in me just couldn’t help herself. I asked her, “is everything ok”. She looked really upset. She goes on to explain how hard it is being single now. Her father has dementia and her mother needs her to do everything and it’s overwhelming.
I sat there talking to her for a little while. Who knows if I helped her, but it was a reminder to me that you never know what people are going through.
Now my mind is running and my thoughts are everywhere. I have so many avenues I could go down for my next career adventure. But, somehow social work is still calling me, twenty-three years into my career.
I have to be honest, I never knew or thought about what this process was like. I begrudgingly always felt as if people were collecting money and sitting at home doing nothing,
Well, that is not the case. The unemployment process includes having to prove you are searching for jobs by checking in with them and documenting what you have done. You have to check in once a week via phone or online, take classes and prove you have gone on interviews. It is a very intrusive process.
When you are newly unemployed it is not easy. Your mind is focused on so many things that must get done, and worrying about how to stay afloat financially. The most important things to remember are:
- Eventually, you will find a job, even if it is not the one you wanted (it is not a permanent situation)
- Take some time to explore who you are and what you want for yourself
- Volunteer for something you have always wanted to do
- Take up a hobby
- Take some classes
- Don’t stay in the house- your mind wanders and there is so much out there to do and see
- Network with friends, colleagues, acquaintances
- HAVE FUN!
- KNOW YOUR WORTH
Deborah Levine-Powell is a psychotherapist in New York, where she works with teenage girls who are victims of abuse and trafficking. She is a wife and a mom to a tween and teenager. When she is not working, you can find her engaged in PTA activities, a leader at Girl Scouts, having fun with her friends and family, while serving up hot soulful dishes in the kitchen.