I know it's overwhelming. Do the thing anyway.
May 31, 2017 7:33 AM   Subscribe

The title is a recording my friend made for me that I play when I'm at a low point, and I've been playing it a lot lately.

I'm the 42 year old single working parent of a special needs child, and today is the last day on my employment contract before the department moves to another state. I cannot tell you how much dread I feel right now, the feeling is too huge and crushing.

The job hunt tallies for May alone are thus:
. I have sent out 95 resume packets with a cover letter, resume, reference list, a pointer to my LinkedIn profile with two supervisor recommendations, and a third recommendation letter.
. I have filled out 41 applications.
. I've taken one second-tier employment test.

No call backs. Not one.

My resume has been written by professionals twice. I have recommendation letters from supervisors. I'm on Indeed, the state department of labor job site, and a few other places. I'm in the job banks at all the local hospitals.

I'm kinda scared at this point.

Outside of applying to unemployment tomorrow, what are the immediate things I should be doing? Please keep in mind that I have zero savings -ZERO- and anything I do has to work around my son's school schedule and I have no family to help and my support system is moving to Texas, and I need at least $2500 a month to cover our bare bones just survive not thrive budget.

It's just me and my kid in survival mode. Suggestions? Ideas? At the moment my only direction is keeping going forward even if I have to crawl.

By the way, my LinkedIn link is in my Metafilter profile. In case of a damn miracle.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit to Work & Money (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I would contact recruiters and temp agencies in your field, tell them your contract is ending and let them know you're very motivated to be working ASAP.
posted by princesspathos at 7:49 AM on May 31, 2017 [8 favorites]

Get in touch with everyone you know in the field and make sure they know you're looking.
posted by metasarah at 8:17 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I read your LinkedIn Profile. It seems like your jobs have been pretty different in terms of industry. I have not seen your actual resume, so I don't know how it's organized, but a skills-based resume might suit you better than a more traditional organizational structure. It allows you to highlight what you're good at. I'd keep one of each on file, personally.

Regarding your LI Profile - rewrite your summary to reflect the job you are looking for right now and also highlight your skills more in the write up. People are, apparently, reading those summaries before anything else sometimes, and it should be like the executive summary of your resume, and should tell people why they want to hire you for the jobs you're applying for.

Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:28 AM on May 31, 2017 [6 favorites]

You can fill out a form on benefits.gov which will tell you other assistance you may be eligible for.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:30 AM on May 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

Universities tend to be good places for somewhat flexible employment with good benefits. Have you checked their local sites?
posted by DarthDuckie at 8:35 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Start thinking about your eligibility for food assistance and insurance programs beyond unemployment. It looks like the benefits.gov is by state and there's a good list of state benefits there. These programs, the social safety net, despite the way they are often portrayed, are put in place precisely to help people when they're at the end of their rope; particularly families with young children. And probably way more people than you realize have taken advantage of them to hold the line until they can get back on their feet after a temporary set back. Also local churches, food banks etc. are not just a source for food etc but also can be helpful for networking etc. Even volunteering a bit, if you can manage, maybe in programs that your child is a part of, gets you out of the house and less focused on your job hunt and can sometimes lead to helpful contacts. I was climbing the walls during my stint of unemployment and volunteering helped me to feel useful and gave me regular contact with other people. That said, I realize that might be unrealistic when you're caring for a disabled child.
posted by DarthDuckie at 9:14 AM on May 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

I just thought of this: You could also look at things like Upwork which cater to freelancers and often have categories like "Virtual Assistants" which might have jobs listed that pair well with your areas of expertise and offer some flexibility also.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:34 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, I've hit the colleges and universities within commuting distance as well as the local municipalities.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:42 AM on May 31, 2017

I was in your position at the outset of the 2008 crash. I ended up working (irregular hours at a couple different offices) through a temp agency for about three months. It was a blessing: it gave me income but didn't take up all the time I needed to keep applying for other positions and to keep the kids' on a decent schedule. I hear you that you're scared. Let that fear keep you from assuming that temp work is a step in the wrong direction. Your first order of business is finding income, any income, and the rest can follow.

Another thing I wish I'd explored more fully at the time: non-profit orgs that are willing to hire people to remote/telework positions as an apology for the low pay. Are there non-profits you support, like, follow, etc.? Hit up their job openings pages. Look for/filter for remote positions if you can. I see you have Sharepoint experience, which is a horn you may want to toot--it's what a lot of non-profits (including my employer) use to manage themselves. Are you a good writer, science writer, technical writer, social media writer? Those things are also in demand across many non-profits right now and you may be able to find part-time or contract work writing/proofing/editing.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here is the benefits screener for the state listed in your profile. Depending on what your unemployment benefit will be, you may qualify for Medicaid (I'm not in your state but typically the income cutoff for a family of 2 is around $1800/mo) and you may qualify for food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program / SNAP) as well.

Medicaid application.

SNAP application.

I encourage you to sign up for any public benefits that you appear eligible for. I know that sometimes it feels like taking charity, or taking from others who are "more in need". It isn't. This country does not have a great safety net, and if you qualify for assistance it means you need it. As a taxpayer, I'm happy to help support you and your child while you need help, knowing that down the road it may be you helping me.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:27 AM on May 31, 2017 [3 favorites]

Expanding your Linked In network may help. I sent an invite to connect, so at least you'll be able to reach out to many more possibilities.

What kind of job would you really like to have? That might be a good thing to add as the first line in your summary.
posted by dreamling at 10:28 AM on May 31, 2017

Oh, one other thing. If you haven't yet, look up the trade organizations for the fields in which you're most qualified. They don't always push advertisements out for smaller jobs, especially within smaller or more specific trade orgs.

During my long unemployment, I had to give up on county, city, state, federal job applications--they simply took too long to go from application to test to interview (in Santa Monica, the process from application to the first of several basic skills qualifying tests was six months... for jobs as straightforward as "filing clerk"). Private industry and non-gov't jobs were the only areas that could move quickly enough to help me get a job fast.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:32 AM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Many areas have meal programs for children.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to contact anyone you do or will owe money to and explain the situation.
posted by maurreen at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2017

Hey, seconding focusing your LinkedIn headline a little. From your employment summary I see versatility and customer focus, and success in a logistics role says "systems thinker" to me. I'd be happy to suggest some LinkedIn edits you could experiment with. I'm not an expert, but I did get my current job from LinkedIn, so maybe I can help.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:04 PM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hi, guys. When I get home tonight I'll come back and reply more. But yes to any help fixing up my LinkedIn. I will work on a skill resume tomorrow. Also thank you for all the links. I'm making notes.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 1:14 PM on May 31, 2017

Driving for Uber might be worthwhile. But it does have a number of conditions, such as: insurance, a new enough car, and a smartphone.
posted by maurreen at 6:32 PM on May 31, 2017

I've read that skills resumes look like you're trying to hide something, and additionally they can make it difficult for HR to find the X months of relevant experience they're looking for to not trash your resume. It's just not an intuitive way to talk about your past, period. I have a kinda weird background and wound up largely re-writing my resume every time using phrases from the job posting and focusing strictly on what that specific job was looking for. Sending out fewer, carefully-tailored applications is often a better strategy than going for volume. I started getting interviews when I cut down to applying really thoroughly to a job per day, maybe two, max.

Speaking of tailoring, everyone says they have a great work ethic, they're problem solvers, they're reliable - figure out how to demonstrate it. Spend some time thinking about accomplishments, things you can quantify (processed x widgets daily?), and stuff that sounds cool (that emergency grant?). Using databases is a great skill, get specific about what you did / why it's awesome. You want to have some hooks in your resume that stick out and make you memorable. Start your bullet points with action verbs - you can google lists of them for resumes.

Temping - you usually get paid weekly and can set your schedule requirements. You may need to try a few agencies to find a fit. I've gotten three permanent jobs via temping - were not originally temp to hire, but they liked me and kept me / hired me when they could.

Driving Uber won't cover your costs + pay a decent wage. It only makes sense if you need money *now* and will work for peanuts and take the hit of gas and maintenance later.

Also, it's a hassle, but apply for any relevant government benefits now. Processing times are slow, don't wait until you're desperate. School lunch programs happen over the summer at parks and will feed anyone under 18 without questions IIRC.
posted by momus_window at 7:15 PM on May 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

Have you taken the step of sending out a blanket "I'm looking" email to literally everyone in your contacts list? This can generate a surprising number of leads. Keep the tone positive and promise to reciprocate. Describe your skills and type of work you're most eager to do.
posted by Miko at 8:21 PM on May 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I know I disappeared, but things are even crazier at my end. A lot of different external pressures hit all at once making a lot of mental stuff really hard. But on a good note, I have an in-person interview with an agency tomorrow after a decent phone interview. I applied for and have unemployment benefits, and I'm attending an open cattle call type job thing at the end of the week.

I have no idea how I'm paying June's rent, but I just finished paying all of May's and things are looking up.

I will fix the mess that is my LinkedIn after tomorrow's interview.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 1:25 PM on June 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can do it! /cheer
posted by dreamling at 7:01 AM on June 8, 2017

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