Being without a job is stressful by itself, and there are plenty of things that make it more stressful than it should be -- such as someone trying to jump the line at the unemployment office, as one clueless person recently found out in Oregon.
"You have to be careful. There are a lot of unhappy, stressed people here," one woman said at the Oregon Employment Department.
There are many more frustrations of the unemployed, who daily face the task of competing with thousands of other people. Here are the Top 10:
1. State unemployment hotline disconnecting.
Florida's unemployment department has such a high volume of calls that it can't handle all of them, and tells callers to try back later before disconnecting them. Filing for benefits online may be easier, but sometimes a human voice on the phone can explain things better.
Solution: With any automated phone system, try pressing 0 to get to an operator quickly. If that doesn't work, try filing online or go to the office in person. Some Florida residents are calling their state legislators for help in getting their unemployment questions answered.
2. Fake job listings.
Some companies will post fake job listings online for jobs they don't have open yet so they can stockpile resumes now for future openings. Identity thieves also post fake job ads, which is why applicants shouldn't give Social Security or other personal information when filling out online job applications. Some Human Resource departments post jobs online because their company requires them to, even though the job will likely go to an in-house employee. Whatever the reason, such job listings are a waste of time and depressing and frustrating to job seekers.
Solution: Don't give out personal information on such websites, such as your Social Security number and date of birth. Research the company you're filing a job application for to make sure it's legit. Keep your computer security software updated to avoid phishers.
3. Have you found a job yet?
They mean well, but friends who always ask you if you've found a job yet aren't doing anything but reminding you that you haven't found a job yet. If you had, it would be exciting news that you'd share immediately. Leslie Jacobs, who wrote a humorous book about unemployment, told AOL Jobs in an e-mail that she's also been told by her mother, "You would get a job if you weren't overweight." Thanks for the support, mom.
Solution: An honest and succinct answer could be: "No, but I'll let you know as soon as I do. I'd rather talk about other things." As for a mother telling a child they're fat, that goes beyond the job hunt -- although there may be some truth to that.
4. Unable to afford simple purchases.
When every penny counts and you're unsure how to pay the electricity bill, it's demoralizing to not be able to afford the simple things that you took for granted before you lost your job. Having to forgo things like going to a movie once in awhile, buying a lunch out, or taking care of an emergency that happens at home or in your life is frustrating, said Michelle Nelson, who has been unemployed for 28 months. Marilyn Heywood Paige, who is underemployed in Philadelphia, told AOL Jobs that she's keeping her Blackberry held together by tape because she can't afford a new one.
Solution: Cutting back expenses is the norm in this recession, and everyone's doing it. Save your money and treat yourself to a weekly indulgence that is small, such as a lunch out or matinee movie. Or find one part-time gig online and save that money for such purchases.
5. HR application sites.
Here's how Paige describes the online forms that applicants have to fill in again and again: "You upload your resume and then have to fill in all of the exact same info again into those damn electronic forms. You spend an hour on their site, typing in everything they want, press submit and you never hear a blessed thing from them. Most don't even give you the courtesy of a 'We got your application' e-mail." And even after entering all of the information, the form can suddenly crash for no reason and all of your answers are gone. Time to start again. Or look elsewhere for a job.
Solution: You can buy software to help fill out online forms, although spending money while looking for work may not be wise. Or don't fill out the form but send an e-mail directly to HR or the hiring person. They're more likely to read your resume that way. Just beware that HR people use your information to analyze your Facebook page , so be careful what you put there.
6. Everyone thinks you're lazy.
Or sleeping in a hammock all day drinking beer. Anything but looking for work 15 hours a day. Just because you don't have a job, your friends and family think you're free all of the time and that they can either hang out with you, or you're kicking back around the house all day eating bon-bons and watching TV. Not so. Ask anyone who is looking for a job, and they'll tell you it's more work looking for job than going to work. It lasts from sunup until sundown.
Amy Shropshire, who recently found a job after a two-year search, said she spent 12 to 15 hours a day networking, applying to openings, following up on applications, and picking up freelance projects to pay bills. "I realized that I was working harder and more hours whilst making less money than I ever had at a full-time job," she said in an e-mail. "Unfortunately, I faced people who thought that unemployed meant lazy and that I spent all day laying in bed checking Facebook and Twitter when in reality, I don't think I've ever worked so hard in my life." Hear, hear.
Solution: You know you're working hard, so try not to let the opinions of others bother you. Enjoy the time you have off and do things that workers don't get to do during the day, such as go swimming in the afternoon. After all, you're busy looking for work all morning and night, you deserve a break.
7. Non-stop job interviews.
This sounds like a good thing to have if you're looking for a job. And it is if you get the job. But going to round after round after round of job interviews is draining, especially when everyone you interview with says you'd be a great hire and that you're "this close" to getting the job. Kristen Jacobsen, a marketing and communications professional who is unemployed, put it best: "Its frustrating that, even when you apply, and even when you get an interview, it can take up to a year and 10 rounds of interviews before you're hired."
Solution: Limit your interviews. Pick and choose the jobs you interview for, and don't go to more than two per week. This will keep you fresh for the interviews you have. Some employers want to talk to a lot of applicants so they can gather ideas of how to improve their workplace. Don't fall for it. Do the interview, but only discuss some of your ideas for improvement and how you're a great fit for the job. Try to gauge early on if you're a top candidate for the job and if it's worth going through multiple interviews.
8. No benefits.
The unemployment rate is 16 percent, and it's worse for minorities and young people. Since many part-time jobs don't offer benefits such as health and dental coverage, that's millions of people who can't afford health care or must rely on a spouse to work full-time for benefits.
Solution: If you don't have a spouse that works full-time at a job with benefits, you may want to look into short-term health insurance or other unemployment resources.
9. Dumbing down a resume.
It's a buyer's market, where employers can hire younger, cheaper workers. Many unemployed job seekers are dumbing down their resume so that their experience doesn't prevent them from getting a job they're overqualified for. Employers don't want to hire an overqualified worker who will leave for a better job when the economy turns around.
Solution: Keep two resumes handy, or at least tailor a resume to the job you're applying for. It's OK to dumb down one version of your resume to get a job you need, and still keep your regular resume for a job you want.
10. The bleak odds.
The odds of finding a job are so bad, you get tired of hearing them when you're unemployed. Nationwide there are five to six job seekers for every position. Another depressing statistic: The long-term unemployed -- meaning people who have been out of work for more than six months -- make up 44 percent of the unemployed. The highest that figure had ever reached before this recession was 24%.
Solution: Don't listen to the odds. You can beat the odds. Join a networking or job search support group to help you see how you can get through this.
Next: New Solution for Unemployment -- Marriage?! >>
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.