From Long-Term Unemployment To Full-Time Job: How I Beat The Odds

Fran Hopkins new job

I'm starting a new, full-time job this week. I've waited 34 months to write that sentence. I received an offer on Tuesday and accepted it on Thursday.

I can't even pinpoint exactly how I'm feeling right now, it's such a jumble. Happy, nervous, worried, anxious, sad, excited.

I think that, primarily, I'm feeling grateful: grateful that I didn't give up on myself and on my belief that there was a good job out there for me in this moribund job market. I truly feel I'm one of the lucky ones, given my 50-plus age and the length of my unemployment.

It's difficult to view 34 months of unemployment as a "learning experience," but we can learn something from everything that happens to us in life.

More: Do Job Interviews Have To Be So Grueling?

I learned that I was able to push through and past the low moments, the discouragement, sometimes the despair, with an eye to what I believed was still possible for me. I did not accept that I was "done" as a contributing, productive member of society. As the Eagles often reminded me in one of their songs, "Do Something": "You're not ready for the rocking chair." I'm not!

I also didn't buy the advice that no one is hiring and that full-time jobs are a thing of the past and the sooner I "got" that, the better. I didn't believe that and I still don't. There may be fewer of them out there, but they are still out there.

We each have to find our own pathway out of unemployment, so I really don't feel qualified to give advice to others. I did learn some things, though, that may be helpful to someone.

1. Remember that you have value.
You have something useful to give that an employer needs, even though repeated rejections can make you feel like you're worthless. You're not! You just have to keep searching until you find an employer who recognizes your potential to meet their job needs. Don't quit on yourself.

2. Listen to everyone's advice, but sift through it.
Use your own brains, good judgment and most of all, self-knowledge, to decide what to try and what not to try.

3. If you're newly unemployed, start right away to find your next job.
The longer you're unemployed, the less likely it is that you'll find another job.

4. Consider a career coach.
Learning on your own -- the hard way -- how to present your qualifications in your resume or how to handle tricky interview questions, can cost you valuable time. Using a coach doesn't mean that you're acknowledging that something's "wrong" with you. It just means that you're smart and want to be sure that you have every advantage in an extremely competitive job market.

5. Don't stop living because you're unemployed.
You may feel like doing that, but it's better for you if you keep your spirits up and do things that you enjoy, and that make you and others feel better. You may also cultivate lifelong interests and friendships.

More: Is It A Mistake To Hold Out For A Full-Time Job?

Although I'm glad for me that I found a job, it doesn't change my view of the "big picture."
I remain extremely concerned about the 23 million un- and underemployed people who may face another four years of the same economic stagnation.

I also temper my happiness about finding a job with the reality that, even when you're able to find one, it doesn't mean that you can't end up losing that job in a future round of layoffs. I've read about this and I've seen it happen to people I know. Nothing is particularly secure or stable economically these days.

Still, I'm determined to get off to a good start at my new job. I'm feeling positive, but I have lots of questions.

How will I adjust to all the changes: commuting, waking and sleeping hours, daily routines? Will I be able to combine my expanded personal life with my new work life? What's the workplace like these days? Are people with jobs just as stressed as people without them? How have things changed since I last worked in an office?

And am I too "mature" for all this change?

Nah, I don't think so. But I look forward to the chance to find out!

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Congratulations! I lost my job in October 2010, and no, I was not laid off. I am still actively looking for a new full-time job, but it has been very difficult as I know it probably has to do with the fact that I did not leave my last job on good terms. Hiring managers might look at my information and immediately asume that I am some kind of crimminal, and I am still trying to figure out how to get past this stigma. Any ideas for a veteran jobless person like myself? Thanks.

April 08 2013 at 6:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Work Coach Cafe

Congratulations, Fran! Excellent news and thank you for sharing it! It would be so helpful if you could also share how you connected with this job - through the Association for Women in Communications, through a former co-worker, from a job posting on a web site (corporate or general or association job board?), or whatever.

Good luck with the new job! They are obviously lucky to have you working for them, hopefully for as long as you want.

December 22 2012 at 9:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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