Friday, September 2, 2011

Turn Turn Turn: The Cycle of Long Term Unemployment

In a recent item on The Huffington Post, Alan Krueger's study results announced that the long term unemployed looked for jobs less and slept more.

Gentle readers. Your MatchGirl is no scientist. But she was among the long-term unemployed.
Krueger and Mueller offered three likely explanations for the decline in job-search durations. First, workers could have run through most of the decent jobs to apply for. Second, they could have gotten better at searching and needed less time to scan and respond to ads. And third, they could have gotten discouraged and quit looking.
And as someone who was unemployed for 18 months, your MatchGirl knows a thing about the cycle of unemployment. Someone who is among the "long term unemployed" is someone who has been without a job for six months or more. And, as many of you know, gentle readers, from your own unemployment (as that's how so many of you came across this little blog), in this economy that time is often longer.

I remember the days of unemployment existing in cycles. Some weeks would be all about the hustle, writing emails, sending resumes, working on cover letters and scouring the job boards. But other weeks would be slow and depressing. Because there would be no worthwhile, or, you know, paying, jobs to apply for and there would no one to send anything to. In those times, your MatchGirl worked on her own creative projects and her own blogs and took classes, but not everyone does that. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone can.

Job searching is a job in itself. And rarely a rewarding one. Some mornings there are loads of jobs to apply to and a ton of business cards in your pocket to reach out to. Other mornings... not so much - just the same six jobs that had been taunting you for the past three days. What are you supposed to do? Then you take a day or two (or more) off from truly looking because, though you've followed up with everyone you can, you can't even get a response to an email, let alone an offer of an interview. And who wants to be so bummed out? So you surf the web and play Words With Friends and you watch some daytime television and fall asleep early. Then you wake up one morning excited to look again and you send out some emails and ... And so the cycle goes.

Someone who has never been one of the club cannot truly and fully appreciate the nuances and difficulties of this cycle. But we can, gentle ones. We've been there. We know how the story ends.

So, forget this study. Sleep if you're tired (though not if you're depressed, that's just no good). Look for jobs. Apply for things that are worth your while. And make your own magic happen.

Good luck, dear readers. I believe in you!

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