UnEmployed Me

February 2014

I was downsized.  From a large corporation that is growing.  

Granted, I was offered a chance to stay, provided I was willing to work half the hours for half the rate of pay I had been earning, but I was really only offered that cause they had to.  Instead, I took my chances and took the bucket of money they gave me to ‘go away’ and tried my hand out in the real world.  

When a company can’t lower the cost of their product any more without losing money on it, the next step is to lower how much they pay their staff to hawk it, which is what they did.  Instead of paying me, they hired a company to do my job for less.

That sounds terrible, but its honestly one of the best things that happened to me.  I’ve learned a lot in my time off, and I’m glad to have learned it. 

First thing I learned, was how much I hated my job.  Ok, I was pretty open about how much I hated working there.  But until the day happened when I woke up, and realized I never had to go back there, I hadn’t realized the damage I had done to myself by working there for as long as I did, and how that hatred had reached the very depths of who I was.  I felt like I had sold my soul, been skinned alive, but because my trough kept getting filled, I pretended I hadn’t noticed. I had been saying it for years, but didn’t know how true it was until recently;  “I was good at my job until I started working here.”  I was offered a new job through a different company, just as I was leaving my old job.  Instead of being joyous at avoiding unemployment, I cried. For days.  The thought of having to face the world again, with different goggles on, shook me to my very core.  I waited a week, hoping I would feel better about it… and then called to decline taking the job.  

I currently have two jobs, one where I work in an office, plugging numbers into various software components.  And the second I start next week.  The second one is in retail again, something I swore I wouldn’t return to… until my mortgage broker told me I might not be able to renew my mortgage if I didn’t get a better job that the little bit the office job paid.  So, I am returning to the retail side of things, but in a different capacity.  I was recently told my a career counsellor that she had heard similar things from other former employees of a certain Big Box company, and that she had a personal vendetta against that place, and to not let that one place sour me on my entire career.  I thought I would like working in an office again, but its bleeding boring.  So, back to retail I go, tail between my legs.  I just want to be okay with working somewhere.  I don’t need to love it, or even like it, just not hate it.  

One of the things I had my eyes opened up to was the state of the economy around here.  I knew times were tough, but I hadn’t realized it until I saw what companies are offering to pay their employees.  My office job pays less than what I made nearly 15 years ago.  My retail job pays less than what I made 10 years ago.  The competition for these jobs is fierce.  I had an ‘in’ for the office job and had to take a two month long course in order to even get the interview.  And my retail job: I had to be recommended by a head hunter, complete an online test, have two phone interviews, complete a small project and then two face to face interviews, and its not even for a top position, just a mid-level position.  Needless to say, my bubble has been burst.

I also learned that there are so many resources available to the unemployed.  There’s second career where you can get certain schooling paid for, but there is a qualification that needs to be met, as well as a lengthy interview process.  There’s an incentive offered to hire certain people, like paying for the training period.  There’s free job hunting help, like workshops to strengthen interview skills, resume building, and head hunting help.  And the libraries offering free training too; useful training like advanced Excel programming, leadership building and so on.
There is a light at the end if the tunnel… If you squint… and tilt your head.