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Fragments and Shrapnel: A Guest Post

When Jacques Pépin read Julia Child’s masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, he was a little jealous and felt it was the type of book he should have written. Last week, Detroit-area music officiando and all-around fabulous person, Karen Koski, wrote an article on how to stay employable when you are unemployed. It is something that everyone should read whether you have a job or not. I was impressed with Karen’s honesty and, like Jacques, a little jealous I didn’t write it. Karen gave me permission to re-post this article so others can learn from her experiences. The original can be found here.

 

Some Thoughts About Unemployment

By Karen Koski

I don’t talk about it very much, but I’m one of those 99ers – that ever-increasing group of folk who have gotten their 99 weeks of unemployment and are floating outside the pale of the working world. I’ve not had any unemployment checks since February.

I just got a petition to ask Monster to stop letting employers ban unemployed people from even applying for jobs. There have been articles floating around the web talking about how employers aren’t hiring people who are unemployed. It’s pretty bad out there. Or out here, as the case may be.

I signed the petition, but it got me thinking. Back in the days when I was working in employment and training, it was an axiom that employers hired people who were working. So we would counsel our clients to do something, anything, just to be able to show a prospective employer that you had initiative. Honestly, that really hasn’t changed. It’s just that more people are out of work at a higher level than ever before, and going and getting a job, any job, just isn’t cost effective. Or possible. I know. I understand that. But the not-hiring of the unemployed means that we unemployed have to be creative about what we do with our time and how we show that we are indeed spilling over with initiative.

For example, technically, I’m not unemployed; I’m under-employed. I have things I do on a contract basis. I have projects, like the concert series and all the side projects that engenders. I’m pretty busy. And if the temp agency I’ve worked with over the years had more work, you bet I’d be doing that as well.

And I have to say this: 1) this job interview I just had came about because a recruiter searched and found my resume on Monster. 2) No one asked me about being unemployed because I included all of my wacky artsy stuff on there, and since I’m currently active with the temp agency, I’m technically employed. 3) During the course of the first interview, I made sure he knew that I had already contracted for a short-term position a few weeks from now. I did that so that he could see I wasn’t just sitting around waiting; I was doing things.

Employers who don’t allow the unemployed to apply are really only shooting themselves in the foot. This is the best way to find out about how a person reacts under negative conditions – the old ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ kind of thing. If employers are just looking for drones, then there’s no need to be able to judge a person’s character. But if they’re looking for people who will continue to persevere, who can remain cheerful and positive and creative in the face of adversity, this is the perfect opportunity to seek them out and add them to the team.

I don’t know if I’m going to get this job, but boy, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to interview for it. I hope the gentlemen who interviewed me saw what I wanted them to see. And most of all, I’m proud of the fact that I chose to use this time to do positive things. I’m a better person for it.

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About Anna Alexander

I am a freelance writer and producer living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I live with our cat Grendel who lets us pay his mortgage.

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