A career shift for IowaScribe started today ... after writing for newspapers for nearly 25 years, I am now writing for radio stations. I will also still be writing a weekly column for the Ottumwa Evening Post, and I will still be blogging, and I will still be writing for the theatre and for myself.
But it is nice to once again find myself writing in a structured environment, where those I work for seem to appreciate my skills. They welcomed me to the station this morning and did everything they could to make me feel at home. That's something I missed the last four months, and also something I had not been getting from my previous employers for quite some time.
I was not taken by complete surprise when I lost my old job, but I was more than a little upset at the fact that, in this day in age, an employee can do everything that is asked of him for years -- and do it better than anyone else can -- and have that turned into a negative that can be used against him. It is really a shame that experience and expertise become a liability these days. Because I had more experience, and because I knew exactly what I was doing, I was paid more than the other employees in my shop. That made me a prime target when it came time to make cuts.
That isn't unique to the newspaper industry -- it's all-too-common in almost every industry these days.
So, I figured it had become time to move out of the newspaper business -- but that's difficult, too. It's awful hard to convince people in other industries that the skills you have learned in the newsroom can very easily translate to the skills they need from an employee. I spent a lot more time in the unemployment line than I had expected to.
Although the unemployment rate has very gradually dropped, both locally and nationally, since it peaked in 2009, it's still rather high. Four months ago, I did not completely appreciate or understand how difficult the unemployed have it. I did believe they should be taken care of as best as we can, especially those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. I was never one to consider them deadbeats or moochers.
But I did have to wonder if maybe a lot of them weren't looking for a job as energetically as they could be. My first full day of unemployment, I found literally hundreds and hundreds of professional jobs that I thought I might be qualified for. I sent resumes to most of them, and figured I would be getting calls pretty soon.
But it isn't that easy anymore. Yes, there are a lot of jobs -- but there are TONS of people applying for them. One person I did get an interview with told me that he had received over one thousand resumes. He was struggling. How do you sort through a thousand resumes all by yourself?
In three months, I had only been invited to three interviews. Yes, I was quite discouraged. I still kept sending resumes out, week after week, but I was getting the feeling that no one was reading them, or if they were, they were taking one look at my previous employer and tossing my resume aside, because my previous employer has deservedly developed a not-so-respectable reputation in this region of the country. (I did have one old friend tell me that his employer refused to hire anyone who had worked for my old employer.) Even though I was using my idle time well, job-hunting every day, blogging every day, penning a weekly column for the Ottumwa Post to keep my skills sharp, writing and selling stories and poems and plays and articles every day -- I no longer felt like I belonged.
So now I completely understand the plight of the long-term unemployed, and I understand the psychology. As many politicians have said in recent years, a job is more than a paycheck and it's more than food on the table. For many of us, it is part of our identity. It isn't just what we do, it is who we are. When we can't find one, it diminishes us as human beings. It not only makes us feel like we have nothing to contribute to society, it makes us feel like we don't even belong in that society anymore. I now understand that feeling. I get where you're coming from, jobless masses.
But something happened about three weeks ago -- suddenly, I started getting calls, getting phone interviews, getting in-person interviews, etc. After three months with three interviews, all of the sudden I had eight interviews in 10 days, and more scheduled for this week. I was running ragged! I received two job offers the same day, and actually got to choose which one I wanted. I don't know what caused that avalanche, I don't know why I was suddenly a hot item.
I had to send notes to six other interested employers, explaining to them that I had accepted a job and was out of the running for their job. I had chosen to work for someone else.
I do believe I chose wisely. And after one day of work, so far, so good.
So I guess what I am saying is, "Don't give up." Eventually, you will find the right fit, or maybe the right fit will find you. Something will start your avalanche.
As President Obama once said, "In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."
And as I once said, "Damn straight."
Now let's all sit down, relax, have a few beers and listen to the music: