I am between jobs, looking for work, and am really struggling. Please help me figure out how to cope and keep moving forward. I am stuck and scared.
TL;DR: Unemployed and floundering. Have fallen into a hole in the last month and don't know how to get out. Keep thinking I should just give up and stop looking for work altogether (even though that is not realistic). Need strategies to figure out how to soldier on.
If you take a look at my posting history you'll get a sense of my backstory, but here are the highlights for context:
- Laid off from job January 2012, very suddenly, kind of felt like a betrayal but I got over it.
- In a stroke of luck, landed an 8-month contract position through a temp agency in February 2012.
- Contract position ended October 2012, have been unemployed and searching for work since.
- I had filed for unemployment insurance immediately after being laid off in January 2012, but landed the contract gig during my waiting week so didn't actually start collecting on the claim until the contract gig ended in October.
- I am in New York (work in NYC, live about an hour north).
- I have about 5 years' working experience (was consistently employed since graduating college until I was laid off).
So now it's February 2013. My unemployment insurance benefit year ends next week. I think I am eligible for Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC)
, which would give me about another year's worth of UI benefits, but I am not sure how EUC works. I am terrified that I won't receive EUC. I don't know if I should file another UI claim using the contract gig or not, and I find navigating the NY DOL website frustrating and intimidating, not to mention trying to get someone live on the phone to answer a question is nigh on impossible.
But the bigger problem is, I am terrified that I will not find another job, and this is causing me to freeze up when it comes to job hunting. For a while I was pretty good about applying to 2-3 jobs every day. I ended up almost accepting a job offer at the end of October but turns out the company had massively misrepresented the job to me and also wasn't able to make payroll (the current employees were all planning to quit (and have since quit) and warned me off the job), so that basically ended before it began. I landed one interview through a networking connection in December; unfortunately the job was one I was supremely unqualified for (it was for a director-level position requiring at least 10-15 years' experience and I can only assume they didn't really look at my resume as I was referred via a colleague). I heard about another job lead through this same colleague at the beginning of the year but it turns out the company wasn't hiring at the minute but might have a position open later in the year. Additionally, in January I applied for a job at the company where I had the contract gig last year - a different department than the one I was in, but the person I reported to when I was there put in a good word for me. Nonetheless, they passed on me.
Since then, nothing.
Applying for jobs at this point feels like an exercise in futility. I apply and for all I know my application just ends up in some black hole somewhere because I almost never hear back. It's making me feel hopeless and, for lack of a better word, blocked. Over the past three weeks I've gotten to the point where I find jobs online that I am qualified for, bookmark them intending to apply, but then cannot bring myself to actually go through with the application because I think why even bother? I recognize how unhelpful and silly that thinking is but I don't know how to overcome it. The thought of writing cover letters fills me with dread; I've never been very good at it and it ends up stressing me out, which contributes to my not being able to complete applications. I keep checking in with the temp agency that placed me last year but they don't have anything for me at the moment. I've submitted my resume to other temp agencies but no one ever contacts me back to set up an appointment. I wonder if my resume - the one that got me hired last year - actually secretly sucks. I wonder if my LinkedIn profile is lame. I wonder if my cover letters make me seem desperate. I wonder if I am just a hack. I feel worthless and stupid now, and I just want to give up.
I've applied to maybe one job a week in the last three weeks. For a while back in the fall I was pretty good about waking up at a consistent time, showering and dressing, and trying to keep a schedule, but Thanksgiving that had all fallen by the wayside. I signed up for an online course on basic accounting principles thinking it would be good to keep my brain engaged (and it's something I've been meaning to do for years since I'm interested in it) but have pretty much ignored the coursework since. I have managed to get a whole bunch of doctor and dentist appointments scheduled and taken care of, which I guess is a small accomplishment. But otherwise I spend my days dicking around online, looking at jobs that I then do not apply for, reading AskMetafilter, the Ask a Manager blog (where I get plenty of job searching advice that I then do not implement), and the AV Club. I don't eat meals consistently and it's been bitterly cold here so I can't go running or walking easily (running was/is typically my mode of exercise). I'm sure that doesn't help. Since October I've also been sicker than I've ever been in years; awful menstrual cramps (unusual for me), lots of migraines, a terrible bout of flu/bronchitis over Christmas, a lingering cough I've only just about managed to shake, and now I seem to be down with some sort of noxious stomach bug. I used to get maybe one cold per year; now I'm sick all the time.
Yesterday I read an article on the AV Club about Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and then spent the rest of the day watching Mr. Rogers clips on YouTube. You'd think watching Mr. Rogers would be encouraging because he was so good at making kids' feelings feel validated, but it ended up making me feel sadder. I ended up sobbing pathetically for two hours after watching one clip featuring the puppet Daniel Striped Tiger singing a song called "Sometimes I Wonder if I'm a Mistake". (I'm actually tearing up right now thinking about it, which is humiliating.) That's when I realized I'm really in trouble and I need to find a way out of this rut and get my head back in the game.
I don't have a terribly supportive family, but I do have a wonderful roommate/best friend who is trying to help. He suggested this morning that I need to come up with some sort of plan, on paper, about how to structure my time/job search. But I don't even know where to begin there. I feel completely blocked and the more I try to unblock myself the more scared I get and I really literally don't know what to do. I have no idea how to get beyond this. I really like working and I like what I do and I like feeling like a productive member of society. I was/am proud of the career accomplishments I've had in such a short time. But right now I feel like a leech and a loser, and like a fraud, because no one wants to hire me and now this is the third week where I'm in this vicious circle where I can't even bring myself to apply for jobs.
I am looking for suggestions for how to get my head back in the game and push through this feeling of being blocked, strategies for how to complete job applications without getting bogged down in fear and taking three hours to write cover letters, ways to structure my time, and maybe some ways to stop feeling like such a failure all the time, and stop being scared.
In case anyone is concerned, my last question was about figuring out how to afford the medication I take for my bipolar II since my new health insurance doesn't cover it. I've since spoken with my psychiatrist about the issue and have enrolled in patient assistance programs through the drug companies, so that is no longer a worry for me. That is to say, I at least have my mental health concerns taken care of and I am in constant contact with a very supportive doctor, so I think this bout of depression is mostly situational, though at my next appointment with him we are going to discuss whether my dosages need to be adjusted.