What Am I Doing Wrong?
February 3, 2012 12:02 PM   Subscribe

My job search is making me extremely upset and depressed. What am I doing wrong? How can I push through the constant disappointment? Please hope me.

I was laid off two weeks ago, out of the blue, wasn't expecting it. It wasn't for cause. I have since applied to between 15-20 jobs literally every single day. I have signed up with temp agencies. I have reached out to people I know and I have tried to enlarge my network. I know two weeks isn't that long, given the economy, and many people have it worse, but I just got a call back from a temp agency that had a 6-month placement for me that they figured was a shoe-in, but the company decided to pass on me. This has completely destroyed my already fragile self-esteem. I have a competitive resume and lots of useful skills. I graduated from college 5 years ago and have been working ever since - this is the only time I've been unemployed and I am so scared. I'm thinking, god, if a temporary placement passed on me I must really suck. I know this is not rational, but I am sitting here crying like a baby over this. I had a phone interview for another position last week and was passed over because the company was looking for someone with closer to 10-15 years' experience - fair enough, I don't qualify for that at this point in my career. But a temporary position where I would be answering phones and doing internet research? I don't understand why I was passed over for that? I'm not trying to suggest that office support positions are beneath me (I started out in one such position and I am considering anything and everything at this point), but I am just so thrown for a loop right now.

In addition to applying for jobs online (which I know is a crapshoot) I have joined a couple of networking groups - I haven't met anyone face-to-face yet, but a meet-up is scheduled at the end of the month and I am looking forward to that. I'm also taking this time to enroll in a couple of relevant certificate programs to my field (with the generous assistance of a family member).

I'm reading What Color is Your Parachute right now. I'm trying to stay active. I've been going swimming and walking. I've been keeping a routine and not sleeping in till 11.

I have tried to connect with people through LinkedIn by asking my connections for introductions, and while I've gotten a few introductions that way, I haven't been able to take things to the next step by getting anyone to agree to meet me for an informational interview. I have tried, without being overly pushy. I have sent messages to the effect of "I'm looking to get a position doing [x related to this person's job] and was wondering if you'd be willing to give me some advice as to how best to do so." And then I've offered an email chat, a phone chat, or face-to-face time (offering to buy them a cup of coffee) and said I wouldn't take up more than 30 minutes. No one has responded. What am I doing wrong? No seriously, I am sure I'm doing something wrong there, can someone help me and tell me where my approach isn't quite right?

I've identified a few companies I would like to work for and have thought about contacting them directly, but I have no idea what to say in such a letter. Begging for a job is desperate, but what the hell do I say? These are small companies that don't have a "careers" section on their website but welcome you to contact them. I've heard of people landing jobs like this but I just don't believe that it could happen for me. I can't even get a freaking temp placement. What would I even say?

What am I doing wrong? I am desperate for any help at this point. My health insurance runs out at the end of the month, I won't be able to pay my bills if I can't even land something temporary, and I'm just so angry and upset and disappointed in myself that I'm in this situation after I worked so hard to get to where I was. I wasn't like some impressive department head or super manager or anything, but I was a good worker, not entry-level but not a manager yet ("experienced non-manager"? "associate"?). I am a good writer (the incoherence of this post aside - I'm just very upset right now and rambling) and I'm comfortable with technology and I know I'm just one of so many people out there looking for work right now and the odds are not in my favor, but I feel so lost and scared. I've spent the last 15 minutes staring at my computer and crying after the temp agency called to say that the company had passed on me for a 6 month position. I have no idea what to do. I am freezing up.

What am I doing wrong? How do I get beyond this? How do I not let this destroy me? I don't have a lot of friends nearby and my network isn't that big - I don't even have any 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn at any of these companies I'd want to work for and am thinking about approaching. I went to a really good college - a really overpriced Northeastern liberal arts college - and you'd think the alumni network from a place like that would be useful but apparently I am the only person in the entire history of the school who has decided to go into my field, so the network isn't terrible useful to me.

If it's relevant, I'm in my mid-20s, in the NYC area. Relocating is not an option right now due to a family situation. Any more specific information about my situation (industry, etc) I'm willing to provide via MeMail if anyone wants to help me.

I am very scared and upset and I can't stop crying.
posted by thereemix to Work & Money (31 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
What is your field of work exactly?
posted by anniecat at 12:05 PM on February 3, 2012

Sweetheart, you are doing nothing wrong. This is ENTIRELY about the economy right now. Two weeks is literally NOTHING: I have about 20 years of experience on you, and it took me 2 YEARS of active looking to get full-time work.

You said you signed up at a temp agency -- that's good to get you money in the short term, which is good, but it also gets your foot in the door at a lot of places. (That's how I got my full-time job; I was in the right place at the right time when a temp assignment went permanent, and it wasn't even the original temp assignment I got, which I knew I didn't want anyway.) Before I got this, I had TONS of companies pass up on me for temp positions. The competition is just really, really, really tight right now.

Keep getting your temp agencies to send you out for temp work; the longer you stay with them, the more they get to know what you can do, and you'll start having the company you temp for ask for you specifically. And the more a company sees how good a job you can do, the more likely they'll think of you when they have an opening for something full time. And you will be making money in the meantime.

You are not doing anything wrong. You are not a failure. Yeah, you know the economy sucks, and I promise this is entirely what is going on here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:18 PM on February 3, 2012

You have a couple of different issues: one, you need to find a job. Two, you need to deal with depression and anxiety.

For your job search, as a matter of fact, things are going quite well. You've had interviews, which means that your profile is desirable to employers. However, it can take time to find a job. What Color Is Your Parachute estimates it can take 1 month for every $10k of annual salary desired. The book itself is not really intended for people who are looking for work, fast. Instead, it is a transformational book.

My biggest takeaway from the book, believe it or not, is to have faith that everything will work out. You can have faith in Jesus or a Higher Power, as the writer of the book does, or you can have faith in yourself, knowing that if you keep on doing the right things, everything will work out.

As for anxiety and depression, it may just help to talk with someone. Just relax. Everything will be fine - you're doing the right things.

When I moved back to Canada with family in tow, I worked hard to land I job I really wanted. Unfortunately, I was let go in the fall. In December, just a few weeks before Christmas, with just $1000 in the bank, I resigned myself to working at a call center. The day that I was to begin my shift in this hellish place, someone phoned me up and offered me a contract making with a very good hourly wage... they had heard about me from someone else. I had worked hard to expand my network for three months, and it paid off.

So have faith.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:21 PM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

One of the hardest things about being unemployed is the soul crushing damage it can do to your ego. There is no magic answer. For now, your job is finding a new job, and take some solace in the fact that it sounds like you are doing everything you can to find a job. You simply have to resolve to not let the bastards get you down, and keep grinding it out until something good happens.

In the meantime, does your skill set lend it self to self-employment or consulting? Start working that angle too. You may find yourself happily self-employed by the time a "real" job turns up.

Also, plan for the worst. Knowing what you will do when savings run out, you get evicted, or whatever, goes a long way towards relieving the stress of worrying about the worst case. Once you identify and get ready for the worst case option, every day that doesn't happen is automatically a better day.
posted by COD at 12:25 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I feel for you. It is so terrible and sucky and terrifying to be unemployed in this economy. But really, two weeks is nothing to feel bad about, and you will be able to find something. You're in with the temp agency, and that's great. I recommend being very active with them: call every day to ask if anything's come in (if they are ok with that, which I'm sure they will be). That keeps you at the top of their minds. Get on board with other temp agencies in town, too. And don't feel bad about not getting the 6-month thing. That does NOT mean that there is something wrong with you. There could be a million reasons that didn't work out.

Try to be nice to yourself! And remind yourself that you actually ARE very capable and competent. You graduated from a a really good college, you landed a decent job after graduation, you kept yourself employed, and even getting laid off had nothing to do with your performance or qualifications. AND in only 2 weeks you have gotten a couple of interviews and you have been very active in your job search! You have even started the ball rolling on getting some additional training and certification! You are resourceful and competent, and you will absolutely make it through this.

When your brain starts telling you mean things about how worthless you are blah blah blah, just remember that it's the stress/anxiety/depression of the situation talking. Those judgments are not accurate descriptions of your situation or your value. Keep reminding yourself of that. And do your best to nurture yourself. It is great that you have been exercising and keeping a routine. Keep doing that, and make you see and talk to friends and family, too.
posted by aka burlap at 12:27 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

My best guess at why the company passed you over for the temp job is that you're over-qualified. Maybe they really need someone who will be there for six months (or longer) and they know that if you find something better, more permanent or longer term, you'd drop your temp job like a bad habit. At least, that is the likely assumption they made and, in this job market, they probably had another candidate with no better options.

Stuff like thas happened to me a lot over the last few years when I was unemployed and taking temp jobs but a temp job eventually led to a permanent position for me.
posted by VTX at 12:28 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's not you, it sounds like you're doing everything right and there's nothing you can do to speed this up. You get jobs by doing the stuff you are doing right now, and circumstances aligning to get you a job. You can only spend so many hours in a day looking for work, so find a project or something to distract you for those other 20 hours/day.

If you need money, take some gigs. You can tutor, put up some fliers in local high schools or colleges.
posted by Garm at 12:30 PM on February 3, 2012

Oh I almost forgot to add. If you've identified a couple of companies that you would like to work for, see if you can find out if they have a temp agency that they use.

I signed up for the agency that I did because they had an exclusive contract as the temp agency for the company I wanted to work for.
posted by VTX at 12:31 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also you didn't mention this. Did you file for unemployment benefits? It's not a huge amount of money, but it should help you keep your head above water.
posted by pyro979 at 12:34 PM on February 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

Can you set up a reward for just going through the process of applying for jobs? Like, for every 5 applications you send out, you do a celebratory dance in the mirror, or check out a new library book, watch a TV show on hulu, or some other free or $1-2 dollar reward for yourself? For every person you talk to for a networking reason, you give yourself a reward. For every new job website you search, you give yourself a reward. You update your resume, give yourself a reward!

There are factors you can control in your job search, like the quality of your resume, where you apply, how many apps you send out, and where you search for jobs. But ultimately, you can't control, per se, how many offers you get.

Rewarding yourself for doing the factors that you CAN control hopefully will be encouraging and motivating.

Best of luck to you!!
posted by shortyJBot at 12:34 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

This may be obvious, but have you applied for unemployment yet?
posted by Wordwoman at 12:36 PM on February 3, 2012

File for unemployment! Please! (Unless you already have, and it's just unclear from your post). Don't feel bad about collecting government benefits. You've paid more into unemployment than you will ever take out.

Health insurance is tricky, and COBRA may be too expensive for you, but depending on where you live, you might be able to get a cheap-ish plan that can take away some of the anxiety of not having any insurance at all.

When I've been unemployed, I've tried to find short-term gigs that got me a little extra cash. It's nice to have cash in hand, and fifty dollars not on payroll won't screw up your unemployment. Baby-sitting for neighbors, working as a movie extra, etc. Not really income, but enough for me to go to the grocery store and not freak out about my savings and my unemployment and so on.

You're not doing anything wrong other than freaking out. Two weeks is nothing, let yourself mourn the loss of your job, and keep doing what you're doing. I've been in your shoes - complete with feeling crushed and crying over job leads that went nowhere - and it gets better. Be nice to yourself, stay motivated, and give yourself a break (i.e., don't stare at the computer screen).

And good luck with your job search!
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:43 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing applying for unemployment. You say you're in the NYC area - if you live in NY State, you can apply online here. Do that ASAP! Even if the benefits don't cover your bills, you won't have to dip into savings as much as if you had nothing coming in.

I don't think you are doing anything wrong in your job search. I do think you are severely overreacting to being passed over for this temp job. Like another answerer above, I also assumed the reason you were not chosen was because they think you're overqualified, which happens all the time. Keep talking with the temp agency and get involved with some other ones, too. Keep applying for jobs, search for jobs on LinkedIn (some companies who don't have a Jobs section on their own site will post jobs on LinkedIn), keep trying to get informational interviews. Try not to immediately jump to the worst-case-scenario when stuff doesn't immediately go the way you'd like it to. Good luck!
posted by bedhead at 12:56 PM on February 3, 2012

Thank you everyone for the kind words and encouragement.

I just can't get over the feeling that I am doing something wrong. Like, I'm not saying the right things when I contact people for informational interviews, or I'm doing a bad job of conveying my skills through my resume/cover letter. I feel like I should have left my first job out of college (the job I left to take the job that just laid me off) because even though I'd hit a ceiling and I wasn't going to get promoted anytime soon, I at least had a job. I feel like I took a risk and got kicked in the face.

I have bipolar II and tend to swing more on the depressive side, so I know that's part of what is going on here. I have been on medication for years - had a slip up a couple of months ago when I missed a doctor's appointment and wasn't able to refill my prescriptions on time, but I'm back on track. This particular cocktail usually works for me but this thing with the temp placement - even though I KNOW a million things could have happened there - has really fucked me up and I'm just crying uncontrollably. It's kind of embarrassing.

My roommate keeps encouraging me to just cold contact these small companies I want to work with, and I just keep thinking that I'll do it wrong and they'll think I'm annoying, or they just won't care, or they'll think I'm completely lame for even thinking they'd be interested in me. I wouldn't even know what to say.

Ugh, I'm sorry to sound so defeatist here. I really do appreciate everyone's input so far and I am trying to keep moving but I just want to crawl into a hole right now.
posted by thereemix at 12:59 PM on February 3, 2012

It often takes 2 weeks for me to even hear back from many places I apply to. Give it some time.
posted by hellojed at 1:07 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do you have any friends/acquaintances who could do a mock interview with you (that you treated as close to a real one as possible), who could give you honest feedback on what you're doing right and what you can work on? That might help get past some of the uncertainty that (understandably!) stems from the awful way that most jobhunting gives you zero feedback besides a "success or failure" indicator...
posted by rivenwanderer at 1:12 PM on February 3, 2012

You're not doing ANYTHING wrong, really! You are rocking this job search: applying every day, signing up for temp agencies, reaching out, exercising. This is stressful for everyone. You'll make it work. The 6 month temp agency thing could literally be anything--they could have hired the boss's cousin, they ran out of money, they figured out another way to do it, anything. It just through you for a loop and you had your hopes up. Any one of us would be disappointed and upset.

This was years ago but one thing I remember from temping is to call every morning, early. Keep your name at the top of their list. If they know you're available and you call often, you'll be first on their mind when someone needs someone last minute. Best of luck and keep hope!
posted by biscuits at 1:30 PM on February 3, 2012

I do know people who have gotten jobs by sending a letter and resume to the kinds of small companies you describe, where there might not be any open positions but where they say to send your stuff in anyway. It's not at all desperate to write a letter saying "hey, I have some great skills to offer." The rate of success is probably really low, but all it takes from you is the time to put together the materials and send them out, so I think it is a good thing to keep in the mix.

Regarding your lack of success in getting responses for informational interviews, at least from your brief description those sound like really easy emails to just plain ignore, or maybe file in the "deal with it later" folder. I'll respond to an email from someone who can explain the connection (so-and-so gave them my name; they met me at some conference; they are a grad student in a program related to my work; something like that) but without that I almost always don't bother replying. I want some reassurance that the person isn't a total weirdo, you know? I don't know if I am typical at all, but if so, you'll want to look at those connections in order to get more responses.

Also, because email is so easy to ignore, when I need to bother people I will often give them a call instead; once I get them on the phone, setting up a meeting is usually easy, while an email can disappear forever. Use whatever is appropriate in your field, but don't be shy about the phone. (And I know it shouldn't need to be said, but I get a surprising number of emails from people with addresses like "hotpants@xyz.com"; don't be that person.)
posted by Forktine at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

2 weeks is nothing. You are doing nothing wrong. Have you applied for unemployment?

If you've only been looking for the past 2 weeks it is highly possibly that many of the organizations have not even looked at your resume yet.

Also figure out what helps you de-stress. I've heard that some yoga studios or teachers or something have offered free classes for unemployed people. Maybe look into that.
posted by fromageball at 4:11 PM on February 3, 2012

Oh man. You need to calm down. From the point of view of somebody who's done hiring, I've got to say that two weeks is really too early to freak out like this.

Hiring timelines vary widely by job and circumstance, but this is not unusual in my experience:

Week 1: Employee gives notice. I fill out paperwork to begin recruiting and send it up the HR chain to get approval.

Week 2: HR gets back to me with a job description and the ad we ran last time we recruited for this position, and I suggest changes and discuss recruiting methods.

Week 3: Employee leaves; job ad starts running for the first time.

Weeks 4-6: We continue collecting resumes.

Weeks 7-8: I weed through resumes and sort them into three categories ("super stars"; "could be good if we can't afford the super stars"; "no chance in hell").

Weeks 9-10: Phone interviews with super stars. It can take a couple of weeks, because some may be traveling or it could involve phone tag before we connect. Establish that they haven't been hired since applying for our opening and that they're willing to work for what we pay. Field phone calls from candidates who haven't heard anything yet, and just tell them that the hiring process is taking a long time and you can't say more, since that's the truth.

Weeks 11-12: In-person interviews with super stars.

Week 13: Pick best candidate, get my boss' approval to hire, get HR in the loop to conduct background and reference checks.

Week 14: Wait for HR to finish reference checks.

Week 15: Offer job to best candidate. Find out s/he's just accepted another job. Get "I'd like to withdraw my candidacy" from second-best candidate. Start sorting through the "could be good if we can't afford the super stars" resumes.

Weeks 16-17: Phone interviews with next-best candidates.

Weeks 18-19: In-person interviews with next-best candidates.

Week 20: Pick best candidate, get my boss' approval to hire, get HR in the loop to conduct background and reference checks.

Week 20: Wait for HR to finish reference checks.

Week 21: Offer job to best remaining candidate. S/he requests a few days to think it over.

Week 22: Best remaining candidate accepts job. We direct her to take a drug test within 24 hours. Then within 3-4 days the lab gets back to us to tell us she's passed.

Week 23: Finally tell other job candidates they didn't get the job.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:25 PM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]

First of all, even with a recruiter I doubt that I could find a job within 2 weeks-- some of the companies may not have even reviewed the applications yet, so if possible, try to relax on that front.

From the way that this seems to be stressing you out, can you change how you look for a job? Perhaps 1 hour/day max or 2 days a week, but spend the other days doing something fun and/or look at your other needs. Unemployment can play with your mind, so please, please don't spend every waking moment looking for a job.

I'm going to try to give suggestions as to how you could try to do the same things that you list but modified. There is no wrong or right answer, but some of the things that I will mention worked for me in the past.


Instead of appealing to strangers to connect and get an information interview, join the LinkedIn groups related to your industry (find large groups). Watch the group a bit (some have great content, some have people spamming or telling you about their latest blog posts). If you find a good group, try posting a few questions such as "What job skills should I develop for an -X-position?" Eventually, do post your "would anyone be willing to meet with me for an info interview" or "Would anyone be willing to share companies in our industry in the NYC area." (I've seen people do this last question and people replied).

I'd also make sure that your LinkedIn Profile is detailed (like a CV or resume).You can list a status update so mention that you are looking for a job in X in whatever general location. I suspect that this may not turn into a job for your industry, OP, but you never know.

Info Interviews

I do the same thing that you mention for info interviews. However, I do( if possible) mention what I may have in common (degree in X, friend that works at Y).

Also, please think about this OP .People will ignore your request--but that's fine. You are playing a numbers game. Send ten emails; nine may ignore you, but one will reply. The people who didn't reply-meh-they were busy or don't want to do them. It doesn't matter because they will forget they even had a request. One more thing...I never used info interviews to approach people who hired, but people with the job titles that I wanted (colleagues)...because they would review my resume, tell me other ways to get into the job, etc. etc.

By the way, if you join those LinkedIn groups- you can send brief request to some group members for free. Look in other places too (are there organization that you can join for your industry? Can you google people in your industry specific to your location?

Approaching companies by email

I've actually done this quite a bit (as a freelancer)and landed projects. First, how to think about this differently. You are not "begging for a job." OP, you have a skill set, 5 years experience , the ability to learn skills, and enthusiasm; the company may need someone right now. So if they have a need and you have a need,it is a symbiotic relationship...no begging involved.

Here is what I would write if I were in your shoes (after you check out the company website to have an idea of their needs):

To (company name):

I have 5 years experience in the hospitatility industry.

I have experience doing (list 3 bullet statments-be broad but try to have it apply to their company).

I am looking for a position as a Purchasing Coordinator or Purchasing Project Coordinator.
Best regards,

[Contact info details]

If they need info they will call you back for your CV, more questions, etc.

I really believe that you are probably more likely to get a job this way than competing with a herd. Someone has a need (someone just quit or the company expanded), they are really busy, and ....your email falls in their box with the needed background.

Go crazy and approach many, many companies

You mentioned that you are in the NYC area so I assume this can work for you. The NYC business library has specialized industry books, with lists describing companies and contact info. Go talk to a librarian to find the (most recent) book for your industry and photocopy away. Send your email from above to some of these companies. There is also a database (RefUSA) that lists these companies...bring a thumb drive and save the info after doing a search. But this you can approach lots of companies in your industry and in your location.

Temporary gigs

Can you find temporary gigs to help allay the $ fear?

It sounds like you are young. I don't know how you feel about children, but you could list"babysitting" skills on Sister city or a similar website. You could also look through craigslist for temporary gigs. Also list your own services if you have any (film?).

Also, please remember that you are not your job. You had a job before (for 5 years) and you will have a job again. This is just transient.

If you want other eyeballs to review your resume, etc., feel free to memail me.

posted by Wolfster at 4:33 PM on February 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

You really, really can't be kicking yourself if it's been only two weeks, especially if you're already finding interviews.

Seriously, take some time. Especially if you're this prone to depression after being laid off, you don't want to take a job "on the rebound". The right job may take some time to reveal itself.

That said, as a freelancer, I'm all to used to sometimes months going by between jobs. It can be nervewracking. The best combat to this is either focusing for some time on personal projects, and occasionally taking on unpaid, volunteer gigs that utilize or improve on some skill of mine. I've often been surprised by how taking either of these routes will lead to a better job down the line, usually from the people I meet directly through these gigs, or from people who enjoy spotting the job on my resume.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 5:28 PM on February 3, 2012

Just another voice saying that there is no sign you are doing anything wrong. It really is tempting to come up with reasons and explanations for not getting that call, interview, or placement. The bottom line is that you don't know, and those lines of thinking can be bound up in a lot of negative energy.

Also, as people have noted, even in a good economy it can take months to find replacement jobs. This is not a good economy.

Your comments about routine are a good start, as is the regular exercise. I'll also endorse the idea that you find some venue for volunteerism. I'd do it not with the objective of finding a job or growing contacts, just as a way to meet with folks. Volunteering is a great way to do something that is of value to other people in an immediate way and can help slay those demons of feeling worthless.
posted by meinvt at 6:24 PM on February 3, 2012

Oh, honey. Two weeks is nothing -- it just takes a lot longer than that. At two weeks a lot of people are still hiding under the covers trying to come to terms with having been laid off -- you're way out ahead with as much as you've been doing!

First, apply for unemployment if you haven't.

Second, call your doctor and let your doctor's office know you've been laid off and get at least a 90-day supply of meds and fill it before your insurance runs out. (When I was in what we shall call an awkward insurance transition, my doctor let me know she'd call in prescriptions without me having to come in for an appointment, so I'd only have to pay the med cost. I turned out not ending up uncovered, but your doc may help you out similarly.) Ask your doctor to help you get the most doses possible under your insurance.

Third, research insurance options. In addition to COBRA and private insurance (which is expensive but not super-expensive for 20-somethings), you may be able to get emergency-only insurance (which covers you for 1-6 months, for emergency stuff, but not usually for meds) and you may qualify for a low-cost state program for the poor during the time you're unemployed. (I don't know what New York has, but probably something.)

"I'm just so angry and upset and disappointed in myself that I'm in this situation after I worked so hard to get to where I was."

It is NOT YOU. It is the suck-ass economy. This is a company managing its costs; it's nothing at all to do with you and you should not be angry or upset or disappointed with yourself.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:29 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

One small game I used to play with myself. Job hunting is a crap shoot - you have to roll the dice again and again and again. (And in this economy, several hunderd more agains). So, every time I got a solid "no" from someone, I would celebrate - "One more "no" out of the way before I get to my "yes" For me, there some days when I couldn't get any "no's" - it was all no answer, leave a message, call me back in a week. Got to the point where I was actually happy when someone said "no" so I could treat myself.

By the way, this is an extraordinarily stressful time and more stress is likely to make the bipolar symptoms worse. Make sure you are taking really good care of yourself (food, exercise, sleep).
posted by metahawk at 9:50 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Definitely do file for Unemployment, if you haven't - as pointed out above, this is money to keep you stable while you search, and you've personally paid into it.

Visit the Career Centers in your area. You'll want to register on the Job Bank before going in. They have job clubs, interview practice, resume help...all kinds of stuff that can get you refocused and feeling calmer about all this.

Two weeks really is nothing, I promise.

Temp agencies can take a while. No way to know why a client a passed on you, so don't fret on it. Think instead how you maybe dodged a bullet, maybe? Just continue to be gently persistent, offering to come in for any skill tests they may have (this creates the double benefit of establishing face time, which makes you more memorable when they're filling positions).

If you really want to apply to these specific companies you've identified, you can contact their main number and ask to speak to HR then inquire about how to make yourself known as available for any appropriate opportunities they may have. Or you can contact someone within the department you'd be interested in and ask for an informational interview, asking at an appropriate point what they would advise to someone in your position on how to become a contributor at that company.

Whatever you do, though, don't let the stress get to you! Give yourself time to work this agitation out of your system. It will make things so much easier if you make this the priority over anything else.
posted by batmonkey at 11:13 PM on February 3, 2012

For what it's worth, croutonsupafreak's timeline above matches my experience. I'd add a lot more time at the front end for HR stuff (when you need four people to sign off on a position description, someone is always out sick or on vacation that week), and a lot more time waiting for candidates to get back to you with extra materials or to make a decision. We generally haven't needed to work down past the top candidates, but even going through two or thee of them can take forever. And during that entire process I can't tell applicants anything other than "the process is moving ahead and we'll let you know when we can."
posted by Forktine at 6:28 AM on February 4, 2012

Everyone's covered that two weeks is no time at all. Most positions would not even have closed for applications yet, unless they were really close to done, and then it was probably close to filled already.

But the part I stuck on, straight off, was that you are applying for 15-20 jobs a day? Don't.
There's no way you can do 15-20 good applications per day. Quality over quantity. 3 a day, max. 3 jobs you are well suited for, where you make an application specifically to them and put some work into them. Research the company, the position, tailor your cv, tailor your letter.

Be kind to yourself. You are going to wreck yourself at that pace, and for no gains.
posted by Iteki at 8:21 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Speaking from experience, got laid off suddenly earlier this year (all the more frightening due to a new family member; got a great job soon after, it happens): take a mental health break, for a few days or a whole week. Go see movies, pay 25¢ suggested donations at the museum, visit friends you haven't seen in awhile, go to a nice bar in the early afternoon. Do not get stuck in the fired/hire me vortex.

A large part of getting hired is about showing people that you're the kind of person they want to work with. If you're anxiety is screaming desperation and shame, it's no good. Enjoy your unexpected break a little bit. Good luck.
posted by history is a weapon at 4:18 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have been a young unemployed person for a year an a half a little while ago and after that I worked in Human Resources, so I can give the perspective of those things. Don't think you are doing something wrong, you are probably not. The way you will end up getting a job in this environment will be a total crapshoot. Be as social as you can, because meeting someone who knows someone is far better than being an electronic resume in a large pile. I would go as far to say that being as social as you can would be a better use of your time than sending out random resumes. Plus it's more fun. Check alumni databases for contacts, do informational interviews about their job.

You might need to change your perception of time a bit. At any given time, there is no reason to freak out because the process is largely out of your hands, if you feel this, do something to clear your head. Keep your cellphone with you always in case someone calls. Check email regularly but not obsessively.

Keeping your mental health straight is priority number one. If you are sick of applying to things for a day, stop doing it or at least take a break. Applying for jobs is horrible because you don't often see a direct feedback of your actions, so it's essential that you stop to clear your mind. 15 jobs a day is too many anyways, quality over quantity. Don't question why you got passed up for something.

It's good that you acknowledge some of your irrationalities even though they feel real to you. Two weeks really is nothing, in a good job environment that would be nothing. From last months unemployment report, things are kind of looking up. Keep in mind you will not be unemployed forever.

It would be helpful if you told people what you did or at least the industry you work in.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 7:04 PM on February 4, 2012

I've been exactly where you are - applying to tons of jobs I'm ostensibly qualified for and getting no responses. I was depressed because I assumed any job I applied for, 1000 people were applying for and in that pool one was bound to be more qualified than I was.

The "shotgun" method of sending your resume to any job you're remotely qualified for is flat out wrong. You didn't apply for 15 colleges a day, and you didn't ask to date 15 people a day - so why apply for 15 jobs a day.

You should be applying to 1 or 2 jobs a day max, and these should be jobs you can really get passionate about, and you should put that passion into your cover letter.

Some points.

1. Your resume should be a list of accomplishments (quantified if possible) not a list of job responsibilities.

2. You should view as many job ads a day as possible.

3. You should only apply to jobs that you're really interested in (note: this may be doing something different from your previous job).

4. You should convey that interest in your cover letter - you're only applying to one or two instead of 15 so you have time to research the company and convey exactly why you're the perfect person for that job and why they're the perfect company for you. If you can't do that with sincerity, don't apply.

5. What you're doing is sending out an average resume, with an average cover letter. That gets you an average result. This puts you in the 68% of people who are in the average. If you want to get a job you need to do what other people are not doing - which is what I briefly outlined above and in more detail here.
posted by MesoFilter at 11:07 PM on February 4, 2012 [7 favorites]

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