HELPFUL TIPS: When to Pull the Emergency Chute on Your Job Search
by Brian Parish
Okay, you’ve been laid off after ten to twenty years at the same company and doing the same job day in and day out. If you’re lucky, you received a severance package from your company (which differs from one business to another). Then you have your unemployment benefits, which currently run ninety-nine weeks due to the high level of people unemployed in our state. So now you start your job search, which is fraught with emotional baggage from having just been laid off and having to search in the worst job market since the last Great Depression. You may luck out and have an in-demand job, or you may be able to network yourself into a similar position. But for the rest of us who are over forty and facing age discrimination and unemployment discrimination, it’s going to be a lot harder to find that dream job we want and need. So what happens when you can’t find anything? You’ve sent resume after resume. You feel like you’ve earned a doctorate in job searching with PSG, and after a hundred some interviews you ‘re still going nowhere. What’s your plan?
After twenty-six weeks, it’s time to start thinking of pulling the emergency chute on your job search. Why twenty-six weeks? Because after twenty-six weeks, you leave the state-funded unemployment benefits and start on the federal side, which gives you fifty-three weeks of benefits. Then you switch back to the last twenty weeks of state funding, and then—nothing. (Disclaimer: Benefits are subject to the whims of the state, so this may no longer be the case—check with Unemployment.)
You have to consider that it’s time to switch professions and get some training in a new field. The earlier you start, the better your chances become at finding a new career. I know that’s a scary thought and probably one that will upset you. Here is the new reality: Businesses are flooded with resumes from people as good as you were at your job (if not better), and the HR person sorting through that resume pile is looking for the fastest way to get through it, not necessarily the best candidate. It isn’t like the old days where you were competing against twenty applicants; now you ‘re competing against six hundred. Our PSG tries to teach you every trick there is to put your resume at the top of the pile, but it doesn’t always work.
It’s time to consider other options. Do some research and find another profession you would be interested in. Once you narrow down your choices, find out what the demand is for these jobs. (It will not help you if you choose a profession that is just as competitive as the area you are looking in now). Then go to the One-Stop Center and check into the grants program for further education and training. The career counselors there will help to steer you into the right direction. You can still keep trying to get back into your old career while training for a new one. Use the time wisely and effectively.
What happens if the emergency chute fails to open? Hope that you hit water or something soft. The last resort is to take any job you can. Once you reach the last twenty weeks of benefits, it’s time to start looking into retail and any other job on that level, because after those weeks are done, there is no more. So pull the emergency cord early, keep looking no matter what, and use all your resources—including PSG—to your advantage.