Job guidance and how to keep spirits up after 5 months of unemployment.
April 19, 2015 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I was let go from my job last November and having trouble securing work. After brief winter period, I've had phone screenings and in person interviews but still have not received any offers. I've reached out recruiters, employers, friends and family. The results aren't fruitless, but kind of grape-sized. It feels like I am trying to get myself out of a hole by digging. My friend is getting married on my birthday in August and I'd like not be unemployed at the time or unable to afford to go. (Further details and actual questions inside)

Current situation:
I'm a 27 year old white gay male with roughly 3-4 years administrative experience, some communications experience (some social media, PR, event planning, media monitoring) and editorial/writing experience. I have a B.A. in English and M.F.A. in Creative Writing. (Have only grad school loans on a short forbearance-- looking into qualifying deferment). I live in that area in between Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn in New York which is all old factories turned into lofts. I am on unemployment insurance and HealthFirst Medicaid.

I feel like my career path has been spotty and directionless ever since I had the unfortunate luck to graduate right into the recession after college, despite the fact I spent roughly 1-2 years at both my previous two jobs. This is the first time between office jobs that I haven't been working retail and not living with parents. My last job was the first full-time salaried and corporate-ish job I had.

I have become slightly depressed and more anxious than usual with occasional happy moments. (Was a day where I realized that I seek out opportunities at work, that felt awesome.) Trying to keep my expenses within unemployment, I have/had been eating less. This combined with my anxiety led to an Easter weekend of stomach pain ending with me in urgent care Sunday evening. Found out that my family has a history of acid reflux. This side tracked some of my job hunt plans very briefly since I was worried about travelling and spending hours in an temp agency office while recovering the first week.

I have also some issues connecting with friends and other people in person, tending to hang around my apartment more than I should. Travel doesn't always seem worth it with the MTA fare raise and the L train not running on weekends and books feel like a waste of money in relation to other things to participate in my old book clubs.

If you asked me what I really want to do: it would be working in PR at a publishing house/press or even in an editorial or administrative role. Part of me feels like the chance to get on that train was in college and I missed it. I have been looking for communications and administrative work at non-profits, literary places, college and university and start-ups. Haven't really been looking into part-time work or retail again because I need to ensure I have basic expenses covered (rent, insurance, groceries).


Good things / plans / safety nets:'

Expenses / Money
- Have possibility to move home with mother on Long Island.
- Parents are willing to contribute money weekly for groceries and transportation
- Have savings and stock money to pay loans as near-last resort

Mental and Physical Health
- Keeping in touch/hanging out with supportive friend who had been in similar situation, lives close by in Bushwick
- Supportive roommates (husbands, one of which is good friend and former workmate)
- Keep in touch with close friends online
- Just finished book review for (understanding) editor ($25!), feel like I call myself a freelance writer
- Been forcing myself to eat better and to take walks around neighborhood
- Seeing local Primary Care Physician on Tuesday
- Looking for mental health care

Job Hunt
- Volunteering for friends start-up that I put on resume
- Said friend's cousin potentially offering off-the-books side gig
- Have job interview on Wednesday
- Working with recruiters and temp agency, plans to meet with more
- Going to career center at grad school alma mater, great advice and understanding counselor
- Had interview last Thursday with company I really like and feel like I connected with one of the interviewers, waiting to hear back about second round interview
- Attempting Code Academy and Duolingo classes, though I haven't been really keeping up


Actual questions:
- How do I keep my spirits up when it feels like I won't ever get a job despite having a decent resume?
- Have friends start-up on top of resume, how do I explain that it's project of love with out feeling like I'm lying about working? How do I explain the "real work" gap?
- Who do NYCers recommend in term of temp agencies? (i.e. Temporary Alternatives, Core Staffing, Temporary Staffing by Suzanne). Admittedly some Yelp reviews have scared me off.
- Who takes HealthFirst Medicaid in the mental health field in NYC that I can see?
- What self-care techniques can I do outside of seeing professionals?
posted by queeroid to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Really sorry to hear this. You sound employable! The hard part of telling someone you're doing something else concurrently with an application is their fear you are not going to fully commit. Not in NYC but I soundly suggest you look at getting into a role where you could comfortably mix sales with forms of writing where you could build up skill. I have a degree in journalism I use to write for trade magazines and occasional research articles, but the bulk of my job has been to refine and write bids. I am also learning to code and strongly suggest finding allies for this through meetup or CL, because commentary and community are so important.

Glad you are looking at temp. If you're really tired of being unemployed, I suggest you get a job as a recruitment consultant. It will give you an excuse to go job-hunting!
posted by parmanparman at 12:30 PM on April 19, 2015

Maybe broaden the kinds of jobs that you might find fulfilling?

Is there anything specific to "publishing house/press?" Lots of companies with 10-50 employees need someone in the "PR" role whether they know it or not.

If you're willing to put in some work on spec(ulation), I'd imagine you could get commissions to give local companies a makeover. More professional form letters/flyers/advertising. Maybe some photoshop and design touchups to their logo/website. Get a social media site set up. Set up a company booth at conventions or community events. Those kinds of things. That's PR, right?

After you get a few clients, you can put together before/after packages and not have to rely on the spec work.
posted by porpoise at 1:32 PM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: I'm going to do my best not to thread sit, but porpoise's response has me thinking that I haven't written this post as clearly as I wanted to.

The list of jobs above aren't the only places I've been applying to. For example, the one job that I'm crossing my fingers on is health related and hybrid admin and communications role. (It makes sense since I was hired at a non-profit health insurance start-up as office coordinator and moved into communications.) Pretty much any entry level admin and/or communications work that I can write a convincing cover letter for, I'm up for. Just wanted to clear up how broad my job hunt is. (Hope I'm not coming across as super defensive.)

Thank you for suggesting spec work! It reminded me of two high school friends that started an eco-friendly clothing wear line and I'm going to see if they are interested with any help with press and social media managment. Gonna brainstorm some other local places in my current neighborhood that may need help too.

Now, I'm going to step away from the thread for a while to relax myself a bit and to give space to MeFites to give advice. I've been lurking on MeFi for a long time and read similar Ask threads. You folks are the best.
posted by queeroid at 1:58 PM on April 19, 2015

Sorry, I didn't actually answer your Actual Questions. Poor reading comprehension on my part.

1) Keep Spirits up.
It's rough, I've recently been there (and gotten out by going way lateral, using a work connection) and I have a friend that has been in the same situation for about 9 months now. How to keep going? Small things like setting something to accomplish each day, and accomplish them by the end of the day.

Example; identify at least 2 positions to apply for. Apply for all identified positions. Or identify three businesses that could use a bit of PR, put together quick website mockup (or whatever) and contact them with it.

2) Work experience with a friend's startup.
Define exactly what your job responsibilities were, and what accomplishments you were able to achieve. What did you do for the company? Whether you got the job through networking/connections has little bearing on your accomplishments while in that position.

In writing communication, especially on a complicated subject with a lot of backstory/specifics - for example here - start with the concrete questions first, then elaborate, then finish off with a summary (or repeat the concrete questions).

Also, for, Sunday morning isn't usually a great time to post employment related questions. Prime hours for getting lots of askme responses are if the question ends up near the top of on, say, a Monday mid-morning when people at work have caffeinated and started looking productive and now need a break, so then go surf
posted by porpoise at 5:12 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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