Friday, October 30, 2009


For the past couple of days, the radio has been telling me that the recession is over.

Gentle readers, this is news to me. A (near) year of unemployment. My savings dwindling down. No real idea as to what will happen in the next few months. The countdown to my unemployment running out is on.

But the recession is over.

The government has launched a website called where you can see where all the stimulus money is going. You can even search the country by zip code - cool for New York, as you can really see how it's affecting your neighborhood - but. But. But.

The radio also keeps telling me that this will be a jobless recovery. How can we be expected to spend money to stimulate the economy if there are no jobs for us?

It's all well and good that they are trying to create jobs. Wonderful. But they are only in a few sectors, and, unfortunately, in New York City they are not necessarily in the sectors that are hurting.

During the Great Depression, FDR created the WPA, which stimulated the economy by creating real jobs. In fact, pretty much everyone who was unemployed was eligible for some kind of job under this bill - they restored old buildings, artists created giant murals, the pool at McCarren park was built during this time and it even eventually offered job training. The thing that the WPA did that our current stimulus program is not really doing was offer relief to white-collar workers. I think it's great to offer training to people who previously didn't have that kind of education and building infrastructure through construction jobs is important, too. I'm not really knocking the current stimulus. But, for an already educated person, living in NYC, it doesn't really do anything to help me in my job hunt.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of jobs lost in NYC were jobs in the fashion industry and the arts and on Wall Street - and not the high paid jobs, but the assistant designers and the secretaries and the office managers and event organizers - and those are the people that are currently being overlooked (those are the people whose jobs are being turned into internships). That's the kind of job I had. That's the kind of job that I know a lot of people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter and are a fan on Facebook were laid off from and are currently looking for. But it's not the kind of job that's being helped by the current stimulus. There is a lot of talk about the rich Wall Street people that lost jobs. And there is a lot of talk about people who were living below the poverty line who lost there jobs. And every now and then you see something about the middle class. But not much. And, in my opinion, those are the people who are going to be out of work the longest, because there is just not that much that is being done to help them.

But, ring the bells and throw a freakin' ticker tape parade, dear ones, cos the recession is over.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Resume Revamp

As my year of unemployment looms (keep your eyes out for an anniversary happy hour to come), gentle readers, your MatchGirl has been wondering what she's doing wrong in her job hunt.

Now, I know the economy is terrible right now. And I know several of you have also been unemployed for close to a year, or more than a year. And I know that several of you who are more recently unemployed are very nervous that you, too, could be facing a near-year of unemployment in a few months. We all know the recession is not ending any time in the near future - no matter how many stimulus programs the government starts.

But, dear ones, that does not mean we stop trying. No. And while, yes, perhaps there is nothing that I am doing "wrong" in my job hunt, there is always something more that can be done.

I have spent the last few days doing a total resume revamp. Out with the old, I tell you. In with the new, the modern resume, the tips that others got from hiring managers. I redid the whole thing - with loads of help from a formerly unemployed Brooklynite. (Thanks, D!!!). I changed the mission statement. I added action words. I pointed to achievements and accomplishments instead of simply a laundry list of daily activities and job descriptions. And today I sent a few out. No responses yet, but we'll see what tomorrow brings.

While I have rewritten several parts of my resume over the past year (and about five dozen cover letters), I hadn't really totally made it over - thrown out the whole thing and started, basically, from scratch. And it was one of the hardest things I have done in a long time. Writing a cover letter is tough, but you practice and you tweak it for every job you send it to, and, depending on your career, you can be a little wordy and a little interesting and definitely descriptive. With a resume, especially the old format, not so much. Wrapping my head around the more "modern" format was definitely tricky, but, thanks to good advice, a lot of time on my hands and a very patient proof-reader, I feel pretty good about what I'm putting out there now.

Now, about those jobs to apply for?

In response to some of the comments I've been getting, here is a link to a professional resume writing service - they have good examples of modern resumes and this site has a page with a list of great action verbs on it. If anyone else has any ideas or good resources, please post them in the comments section. I'm sure your fellow unemployeds would be interested to know!

Good luck to all of us!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sick Days

There is a lot of talk right now about "Health Care Reform" (You can find loads of information online - here's a good resource for everything that's not happening in Congress right now) and your MatchGirl has to be honest with you, my dear ones. I'm pretty sick of it. There is not a single person out there trying to reform health care. They're all just dealing with insurance companies and no one is telling what's true.

What's true is that a lot of people in this country don't have health insurance. What's true is that, even when we are not in the midst of a recession/depression/whatever you want to call it, a lot of people are unable to afford health insurance. What's true is that America does not have the best health care in the world. In fact, it's ranked 37th, according to the World Health Organization - I'm not interested in people's debates about whether this was a political organization or whether it was a "fixed" study or anything the right or left has to say about it. And I'm not interested in hearing people list all the countries where people are worse off. Of course there are. That's a given. But the US is the only "first-world" country where there are so many people who go without care. The only country of such status where people can go bankrupt - lose homes or cars or life-savings - through no fault of their own, just because they got sick. And, I'm not interested in hearing people talk about how Americans have poor diets and don't exercise. That's a given, too. Those aren't the people I am talking about.

I'm talking about people like me. I'm young (for the time being anyway!). I eat healthfully. I don't smoke. I drink moderately. I'm active. I'm unemployed and uninsured.

This week, I had the flu. I didn't go to to doctor, so I'm not sure what form of flu I had. I can say that I was sick. The sickest I have felt in years. I had a fever of 102.5° one night, I had a swollen gland and a sore throat and aches. And I was sick. If I had insurance, I would have thought nothing of going to the doctor, but I don't. And I didn't. I holed up on my couch and in my bed. I drank tea and Emergen-C and took supplements and I slept. A lot. Five days later, I feel better. Not wholly myself, but better. My throat is still a little scratchy, but the aches are gone and my temperature is back to normal.

And I keep hearing all these people on the radio and on the television talking about how America doesn't need health care reform and it makes me sick. Mainly because the key point that people seem to bring up is waiting. And that's so confusing to me. When you go to the emergency room, you wait - insured or not. I've waited over three hours in an emergency room before, while insured. You go to the doctor's office for your annual gyno visit and you wait - you have an appointment for 8:15 am so you can get to work on time and you're lucky if you're only 20 minutes late to work - when you're supposed to be there at 10 am. The people serving you in America's fucked up health care system don't give a shit about your time. They care about their dime. And the sooner the majority of Americans learn that their beloved health care system, with it's bloated insurance providers, is simply profit driven (like the rest of our faltering economy), the sooner everyone can get off their asses and realize that the only way to make America stronger is for of us to take care of everyone. No one should have to worry whether they can afford treatment. No one should have to choose between prescriptions and food or rent. And if you don't agree, I don't understand the type of person you are.

Do unto others. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

It's very simple.

Take care of each other.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Fun With Craigslist

Ah, gentle readers, your MatchGirl feels as though she is oft redundant when she posts these. But, seriously. Please, if you are looking for an intern, put it in the headline and save people some time. People need jobs. Desperately! Also, no one likes to be yelled at!

This week's fun with Craiglist was mostly picked because the person is either one of those of the older generation who haven't figured out that when you type in all CAPS it means that you are shouting at the other person (who wants to work for a screamer!??! Having had that experience at my last position, your MatchGirl can certainly say, not she!)

Date: 2009-10-23, 12:27AM EDT
Reply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]


* Compensation: 10/12 $ /HR
* This is a part-time job.
* This is an internship job

Wow. This employer is looking for a genius. With lots of experience. To be in charge of the everyday routine of their studio. And for all that, they are willing to pay them a whopping $10 - $12 an hour. How wonderful.

And, apparently, will yell at them a lot.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dream Job?

Ah, my lovelies, your MatchGirl has been looking for a job for a long time now. Your MatchGirl is frustrated. Your MatchGirl has felt all over the place. Especially as the year of unemployment looms and I feel as though I should just take anything that comes my way.

But here's the thing, gentle readers, I don't want to have to take just anything that comes my way. I want something that I am good at and that I am interested in and that I'll want to do for a while. At the end of the day, I want to work for Martha Stewart.

There. I said it. I want to work for Martha. She does all the things that I enjoy - baking, crafting, sewing. She gardens - I hardly ever kill the plants in my apartment. I think it could be amazing.

I started my classes at FIT because I'd like to go into Textile Design, and, while I am learning a lot, I'm not really sure the next step in this journey. I love what I have learned so far. I think I am pretty good at it and with a little practice I will be a lot better at it (but isn't that how everything works?). I suppose I should figure out how to get something entry level, but I am not sure where to begin.

When I think about working for Martha, I think about how diverse her creativity is - how many types of crafts and sewing and baking and cooking projects that she offers to her readers and her viewers. And I think about how great it would be, how fun, to spend your day not only perfecting projects, but coming up with new ones or tweaking old ones so they are modern. How great would it be to break a project down to it's barest parts and then teach it to someone - someone who thinks they're no good at stitching or baking or papier-mâché - and have them do it almost as good as Martha? (I mean, let's face it, no one is as good as Martha).

So. There it is. I want to work for Martha.
Who's going to hook me up with an interview?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Get A Job!


Gentle readers, your MatchGirl is disheartened. I'm not going to lie.
While I have been keeping busy, keeping my chin up and trying (very hard) to keep a positive attitude over this past near-year, the simple fact of the matter is that next month, dear ones, it will have been a year since I was laid off.

And I never thought that I would be unemployed for so long.

I've been unemployed before - sometimes by choice, sometimes not so much - but this is the absolute longest that i have ever been without work. And the prospects look dim, dear ones. Very dim. Having spent several hours job hunting this morning (and countless of hundreds of thousands of hours over the past several months), I am frustrated. Very.

Is no one looking for employees? Is every job out there simply an internship? Am I going to be able to pay rent over the next few months?

I keep thinking that I should have a great idea, something entrepreneurial. Something where I can do all the things that I love to do - sewing and crafting and baking and making art - and work with my creative, and, unfortunately un(der)employed friends and former co-workers. But ideas escape me. Today I am going to spend some time on my Etsy shop. Tomorrow I am going to spend the afternoon at the computer lab at FIT. And somehow, I am going to try and learn some things, think of some things ... do some things ...

But will any of it lead me to a job? If you'd asked me a few months ago, I would have had a different answer. This morning ... not so much.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Make New Friends

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver, the other is gold.

A circle is round, it has no end.
That's how long, I will be your friend.

A fire burns bright, it warms the heart.
We've been friends, from the very start.

You have one hand, I have the other.
Put them together, We have each other.

Silver is precious, Gold is too.
I am precious, and so are you.

You help me, and I'll help you
and together we will see it through.

Your MatchGirl has been spending a lot of time thinking, gentle readers. To those of you who know me, you will know that this is par for the course. I have always spent a lot of time in my own head, with my own thoughts. But my thinking lately has been more focused. I think on the job hunt. I think on the fact that it has been nearly a year since my lay off and I am not sure what is to come. I think, a lot, on the fact (especially as my birthday - a few weeks away - approaches) about how this is not the place I thought I would be in my mid-30s.

Tomorrow, your MatchGirl has some friends coming into town - old friends whom she has not seen in probably six years. They live across the country, in a city I love but rarely get to. But they are old friends. And, at a certain point in my life, they were dear friends. And I am very excited to see them and catch up.

Their visit, coupled with the impending end of a year being unemployed, has gotten me thinking, though, about friendship. About cycles. About the past year. About the song (above) I learned, at 6 years old, in Brownie Girl Scouts.

While over the past year I have lived frugally on my unemployment check, while I have had not luck finding employment, while I have been frustrated and hurt by men, I have also been a lucky girl. Because it's in one's bad times that one really has a chance to gain some perspective on their life, their friendships and on what is truly important. Not only have my old friends, my core Brooklyn peeps, been truly there for me when I needed a helping hand, a shoulder or a cocktail, but I have made some truly amazing new friends - people who I would not have met had I not been laid off, started this blog and then gotten a little press about it. And, for that, gentle readers, I am truly thankful.

Through new friends in our adulthood, we learn about ourselves. People who have known us forever, know us. They see us inside out. They see us, probably, the way we remember ourselves and maybe in ways that we don't want to look at ourselves. New friends, however, give us a little perspective. They open our eyes to things about ourselves that maybe those who have known us a long time don't notice or forget, or maybe even parts of ourselves that we didn't know were there.

So, while I may not find a job any time soon, and while the men in my life may continue to disappoint, I am grateful for, and inspired by, the people I have been lucky enough to meet during my time of unemployment.

And that, my dear readers, is definitely the silver lining to this very grey cloud of a year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Falling Off

Oh, my gentle readers, your dear MatchGirl is disappointed in herself this morning. She has fallen off the wagon, so to speak. A few months ago, your MatchGirl set a schedule for herself - a wake up-time, an exercise schedule, an agenda for each day - to keep her productive and on track. And, over the past few days, my lovelies, that agenda has fallen by the wayside.

Could it be the killer insomnia that kept me awake till the wee hours of this morning, that made me hit snooze not only on my alarm clock, but on my phone? Perhaps. But is that an excuse? I think not.

In these seemingly never-ending days of joblessness, it's important for one to act as though they do have a place to go in the morning. To keep one's spirits up and to be productive. Sure, you can stay up all night working on that project or resume or iming with you un(der)employed pals, but do you feel good about yourself the next day? Do you feel a sense of achievement? Probably not so much.

So, dear ones, by putting it out there - by admitting to you that I have fallen off the schedule wagon, I have take the first step. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning (and since today is a holiday, perhaps it shouldn't count anyway!) and a chance for me to get back on track - and keep me on it.

If you, like me, gentle readers, have let your self-imposed schedule fall to the side, perhaps it is time to get back on the wagon, as well?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

For What You're Worth

Last night, dear ones, I had the opportunity to have dinner with some of the ladies from The Greenpoint Girls Group, at Papacitos. It's not often that your MatchGirl has an opportunity to break bread with so many smart, interesting and creative women. It was not only a fun evening, but inspirational as well. I came home wanting to make more art, to be more focused and to spend more time with like-minded people.

A few nights ago, I had a conversation with a fellow that I've just met. In telling a story about the purchasing of my first lap top - a gorgeous tangerine iBook - I was telling this fellow that, at the time, that was a really big purchase for me. I told him how I was working retail and making, something like, $10 an hour in 1999/2000. Instead of taking this as it was, an endearing story about me needing to make sure that I got this fantastic new computer in the cute tangerine color instead of the boring blue, he looked me up and down, saying that he didn't mean to be judgmental, but what was I doing, at 24/25 years of age, working at a job that only paid $10 and hour (plus commission)? Not to be judgmental, but didn't I have any plans for my life/future/etc...?

I related this to the ladies last night and they were appalled. More so than I had been, even.

You see, it came up as a natural part of conversation about un and under employment. It came up as one of the gals in the group said she kept seeing jobs posted in her industry that would maybe pay $8 and hour. It came up as part of a conversation about how, if you work in a creative industry, while it's always tough, it's even harder right now. And how it is an employer's market. And how everyone is trying to get something for nothing. And I related to the girls - artists and writers and food makers - the anecdote from above. They all said they hoped I wasn't going to see that gentleman again.

Now, I think I will give Mr. Judgmental another chance, and consider that perhaps he just has no idea how to speak to someone who is unemployed in this economy (or doesn't roll with too many people who are purely creative types).

It's not that I don't want to make money, gentle readers. But it's never been my priority. I want to live comfortably - more so than I have been able to live recently - I don't, however, want those who have never worked in my industry telling me how to do so. I don't want people who have never struggled to tell me how much they think I should make - or, more to the point, how much I should have made. I can't go back to 1999 and re-do my life. There's no use discussing it. Would I even want to? Probably not.

As I near a year of unemployment, my dears, I am thinking hard about those I spend my time with. I am thinking about how to make the best use of my time (even more so than before). I am thinking about the people I need to surround myself with. Amazing, creative folks, all looking to meet more creative and interesting folks? Definitely. People who are going to ask me if I am looking for a job (duh) or judge me based on decisions I've made in my distant past? Not so much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

United We Work

A couple of weeks ago, gentle readers, your MatchGirl received an e-mail promoting a new job search site, based on the tenets of the E-Harmony dating site.

From the e-mail:
In today’s cut-throat job-seeking climate, job seekers are often frustrated by the “black hole” of internet job searching: job seekers submit an application or resume for a position and chances are, they’ll never hear anything about it again.

One new job program has a solution. is seeking to connect job seekers with employers in a more personalized and humane way that’s free for everyone. The model has been compared to that of the popular dating site eHarmony; instead of listing available jobs and applying to each one, job seekers create one profile which includes their skills, experience, education and desires and the job-matching network connects them with recruiters who are filling appropriate positions. is powered by QuietAgent, a next generation job matching network, and is provided free of charge by AllianceQ, a growing collaboration of industry leading Fortune 500 companies whose members include Starbucks, Bank of America, Allstate, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and many more. There are currently 8,500+ employers on the site with more than 350,000 jobs that job seekers are actively being matched to every day. About 250,000 new jobs are added each month. Over 70,000 job seekers have signed up through the United We Work program since its launch in July 2009 – membership has grown by 150% month over month since the launch.

Your Matchgirl has finally had an opportunity to fully create a profile and spend some time in the site. While I'm not yet convinced it is great for more creative types, or those working in the world of fashion or beauty, it seems to offer a fresh approach to job hunting. And goodness knows, we could all use that!

It really does seem to be like a dating site - Here are some more fun features:
It’s perfect for career transitions: Similar to the idea of eHarmony’s matching technology, United We Work utilizes QuietAgent's smart matching technology, which isn’t just based on job titles or keywords. Intuitive yet complex, the site is perfect for anyone open to a career transition and/or relocation because the job seekers are matched with positions based on compatibility of skills and strengths – not just on past experience in that exact position.

Say goodbye to the “black hole”: United We Work is committed to sending members real-time status updates for each job seeker; allowing them to feel empowered by understanding what the process is; if the job has been filled, or if the employer needs more time to decide.

Privacy: While anonymity is still a critical concern for some job seekers, every user is entirely anonymous until they choose to reveal their identity. Additionally, each user’s profile can be set up to exclude any employers by domain names.

Anyway, check it out and let me know if you find it more (or less?) useful than any of the other job sites that you're on. And, hey, what other job sites are you using?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All Hail ...

It's an election year in NY, gentle readers. I hope you've been following it closely. I trust that you pulled yourself away from your lap top long enough to stroll down to your polling station and cast your vote in the primary and subsequent run-off (Goodness knows you have the time!).

Your MatchGirl is not endorsing anyone - though she was quite taken with Miss Heather's ringing endorsement of C. Montgomery Burns for Mayor over at New York Shitty on Sunday.

But I did want to speak to a couple of issues that you, as civil minded (and perhaps a wee bit disgruntled) residents, the un and underemployed of NYC, maybe concerned about.

First up:
Public Transportation and the MTA
Sunday morning, dear ones, I had to be in Central Park by 11am. No. Not so early, but consider this - neither of the trains I would normally take from my neighborhood were running. So, I had to leave myself a little before 10am and still, giving myself an hour for transport time, I was late! Just by a few minutes, but late nonetheless. And this started me thinking about when I had a job where I worked weekends - every weekend. And how I had to leave my house at least 20 minutes earlier than I would have on a weekday morning, just to get there in the nick of time.

And while this blog is about unemployment and my experiences surrounding my life as a single and unemployed gal in Greenpoint, my Sunday commute made me think about the working poor. The people who have a handful of really crap jobs on weekend and evenings, who have to take what they can just to scrape by and pay their rent and feed their kids.

And, though the NYC subway system is really super compared to a lot of others and compared to cities that don't have public transportation, I wonder who is going to do something to make it a bit more user friendly. Anyone know?

What are some other issues of interest to my fellow unemployeds? I'll have a few more rants coming up over the course of the next few weeks ...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Extended Benefits

Ah, gentle readers. Why must the people at the NYS Unemployment Office make things so very difficult for us poor unemployeds? I mean, the system works OK. You go to the website. You log on. You type in the pertinent information and you go off on your merry job hunting way. But there is this extension. And when you go to check your balance, it doesn't always jive with what you have recorded - what you have been carefully keeping track of.

For instance, dear ones, last week, when your MatchGirl logged onto the system to file her claim, she saw that her remaining balance was one week's worth of pay! Now, that couldn't be true. No matter how the math could be added, she simply hadn't exhausted the emergency benefits. She'd barely entered them. And, today when she logged on, it told her that the amount left worked out to about six weeks - and, no matter the math - calculators and calendars out, could she figure out where this monetary amount came from.

So, I looked, for about the millionth time, at the New York State Department of Labor Website and read, for about the millionth time, the details about extended and emergency benefits. And I took out my calculator and my calendar again. And it still doesn't make sense. Not according to any math that I know how to do. Not according to the amount of time for which I have been collecting unemployment and not according to any of my own math.

For those of you who would like to read it for the zillionth time (cos you know you all check in on it to see if it makes more or less sense on a regular basis) here's what the NYSDoL has to say:
Important Notice About
Unemployment Benefit Extensions

On September 22, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits for an additional 13 weeks for states, like New York, with consistently high unemployment rates. However, legislation to extend benefits must still pass the Senate and be signed into law. Therefore, this proposed extension is NOT in effect at this time. Please continue to claim weekly benefits in the usual manner. It is not necessary to file a new claim unless you are advised to do so. Please continue to check this web site for updates.

Currently, New York State provides 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits.

An additional 53 weeks of unemployment benefits have been approved for claimants who meet certain criteria.

The first 33 weeks fall under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) Program, and are known as Emergency Benefits; the last 20 weeks fall under a different program titled the Extended Benefits (EB) Program, and are known as Extended Benefits. Per current Federal legislation, specific deadlines apply to the different extensions, and as a result, not all claimants are eligible for the full 53 additional weeks of benefits.

The extensions are broken down as follows:

Emergency Benefits include two tiers:

* Tier 1 (20 weeks) – to be eligible for any additional benefits under Tier 1, the individual must exhaust regular benefits on or before the week ending December 20, 2009, and start claiming Emergency Benefits on or before week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, June 15, 2009.
* Tier 2 (13 weeks) – to be eligible for any additional benefits under Tier 2, the individual must exhaust all 20 weeks of Tier 1 on or before the week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means that the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, February 2, 2009.

The last payable week of both Tier 1 and Tier 2 is the week ending June 6, 2010.

Extended Benefits (20 weeks: (13 initial plus the seven (7) added eff. July, 17 2009)) are available to individuals who exhaust all 33 weeks of Emergency Benefits. However, the last payable week of Extended Benefits is the week ending December 27, 2009. Note: This means the individual must have filed their initial claim for regular unemployment benefits effective on or before Monday, October 27, 2008.
Individuals who have a claim with New York State, but live in another state that is not in an extended benefit period, will be eligible for only 2 weeks of extended benefits (for extended benefits status of other states, see Frequently Asked Questions below).

Work search requirements are more stringent for individuals claiming Extended Benefits (see Frequently Asked Questions below). However, individuals in training approved by the New York State Department of Labor, are not required to look for work while claiming benefits.

And, dear readers, please don't write in and tell me I should just call. You know it's impossible to get anyone on the phone. While unemployeds do have some extra time on our hands, this is one girl who has been quite busy in her unemployment.

Anyway, the DoL site was down most of the week, but it's up and running now. Don't forget to log on and claim your weekly benefits!