Stupid List Friday: What I Learned While Unemployed

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(Republished from March 2013)

There was a time when having a stable income was not on my list of priorities. It’s nice to have money, but if I had to live on ramen noodles for the rest of my life, I’d be okay. The list of priorities pre-motherhood went something like:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Kick ass.
  3. Have fun.

However, since becoming a mother, things have changed and I’m kind of forced to take employment seriously. This meant staying at jobs where I wasn’t really happy, wishing I would move forward somehow but being afraid to do so, walking into the office every.damn.day thinking, “Please, don’t let today be the day I have to curb stomp someone.

Suddenly My Wish Came True … Kind Of

In a matter of hours, I found myself unemployed with no real income except for what was left of my freelance work. (If you remember my declaration on Facebook a while back, I dropped quite a bit of it.) I don’t regret dropping some of the freelance work, nor do I regret quitting the last job I had in less than four months (shitball company. I swear.) Sometimes, jobs suck. And the only way you can fix it is by standing on your desk, dropping your capris, and taking a big old, pent up, gorilla style dump.

Which I didn’t do, but sometimes sort of wish I had. My unemployment lasted for about three weeks, which is the longest I have been unemployed in as long as my feeble mind can remember (which may or may not be a long time. I can’t remember.)

I did not share my unemployment with everyone, mostly because I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me (I quit by my own choice). I also didn’t want anyone to worry about me and/or my daughter. I have a great deal of faith in myself, and although I panicked a few times, I always knew it would work out. So much faith, that I started writing this post before I even had a new job.

10 Things I Learned While Unemployed

  1. Being Organized Matters. Duh.

Everyone knows this already, but for some reason I ignored the need to be organized and thought I could continue to skate through things with a “meh, half assed has worked out pretty well” kind of attitude. I think it’s similar to reading the beginning of instructions that clearly say “PLEASE FIRST READ THE INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY” and then skipping the instructions, messing something up, and then going back to read the instructions.

I do this.

When you are unemployed, you need to keep track of details and you need to be organized. Otherwise, you end up applying for jobs, getting a phone call, and trying to go back and find the ad only to realize it has been removed and you have no clue what these people are calling you to interview for.

And yes, I have been asked in an interview, “Do you know what we do here?” and I have replied with a bunch of sentences that didn’t make sense because I REFUSED to say, “No, actually I don’t.”

  1.  Proofread Before Sending … Pleashewc and Thasjdks

I type lightning speed and that’s no hyperbole. I feel like I can whip out an email with my eyes closed. I know you’re jealous, but my lightning speed typing once resulted in an emailed reply to salary requirements that was riddled with typos. And not just regular, small typos. It actually looked like I had been drunk typing (I wasn’t this time).

I have never sent an email as badly written as that one, and this is including the one I sent that said, “I don’t have any idea what a traffic controller does, but I bet it has something to do with traffic.” (Didn’t get the job as a traffic controller, by the way.) Carefully write your emails and of course, proofread.

  1.  Environmental Something Usually Means Cleaning

There is nothing wrong with cleaning, but I’ve learned that a lot of cleaning positions are not called cleaning positions anymore. They are called environmental services or something fancy like that. Didn’t know before. Now I do. All this to say, know what the hell you are applying for and research the job.

  1. A Website is Awesome on Your Resume Unless Your Blog is Mine

I didn’t know how easy it would be to find my blog and realize what an idiot I am until an advisor mentioned that “the what not to include in your dating profile post was hilarious.”

Me in my head: HAHAHAHAH YOU READ MY BLOG.

Me in my head: Er. Wait. What?

Also, I was sitting in the hospital, waiting for my interview and reading through the Code of Conduct, which includes something about Catholics and Christianity. Upon reaching the part about no cussing or appropriate attire I began to ponder if I could pull it off.

Me in my head:  HAHAHAHAH THEY’RE TOTALLY GOING TO SEE MY BLOG.

Me in my head:  Er. Wait. What?

Needless to say, I removed my website link from my resume.

  1. Not Every Job is For You

If you are me and you are being interviewed by five old ladies in birdhouse sweater vests, you are probably not going to get the job. Nor should you want to if there is a huge difference in personalities. The workplace can be difficult enough, but it’s a lot easier if you share something with your co-workers or have something in common. Sometimes, you will not be a good fit no matter how much you want the job and it’s best to know before you start.

Pretty sure I’d suck at making yarn too.
  1. Pay Your Cell Phone Bill, Loser

I am almost certain that if your phone gets cut off and employers aren’t able to reach you, you probably won’t get the job. You also need to pay your internet bill or it’s going to be more difficult to find a job to submit your resume to. Don’t ask me how I know this.

  1. Being Unemployed Is Not Like Taking a Vacation

You would think with all of the craziness in my life, I would have been able to get something done and relax a little. Maybe get some sleep. Maybe take the Christmas tree down. Maybe clean the house.

Unfortunately, I spent the entire time worrying about finding a job and staring at my phone or computer for long periods of time. If that was a vacation, it was Hell vacation and I want my money back.

  1. Don’t Panic

This is coming from the person who, in week three of unemployment began to wonder if I would EVER work again. Yes, you’ll probably tell yourself stuff like this because we like to kick ourselves when we are down. I don’t care who you are and what the news tells you regarding the shortage of jobs. If you are employable and want to work, you will work again. You will find another job.

  1.  Don’t Apply for Jobs You Don’t Want

… because those are the first ones who will call. This goes along with applying for jobs that pay way below the cost of driving to and from work every day. I don’t agree with people who use this excuse to be terminally unemployed, but if you read the job description and you know before sending your resume or meeting anyone that the job would be more painful than a ferret eating your dirty face off, don’t apply for it.

  1. Find Your Dream Job Before You Quit Your Shitty Job

I can’t remember the last time I was completely jobless and if I’ve learned anything, it is that I don’t ever want to be again. Ever. If you hate your job, hate your coworkers, believe the company you work for is full of shitballs and liars — smile like a crazy person and stay there until you find something else.

Bonus: Lean on your friends and family for support. Having a team of people who are rooting for you, who have just as much faith in your abilities as you do, and who will feed you if, by chance, you are unemployed so long you can’t buy food, goes a long way. I chose not to alarm everyone with the news, but the people who did know quite possibly saved me from scratching my own eyes out.

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