Sunday, September 20, 2009

Health care: stand up now!

For anyone who's been laid off or had their benefits slashed in the last year, one of the biggest concerns is where health insurance or health care will come from. When I was laid off, health insurance was my first worry of many. Where will I get it? But worse than that, how much will it cost?

For many who have pre-existing conditions that may result in coverage denials, COBRA becomes the only, usually more expensive, option. Even with government subsidies to decrease the cost of COBRA, I would have had to shell out 3-4 times more under COBRA, even with the reduction in cost. Not ideal. But, those with pre-existing conditions are forced to cling to COBRA at a higher cost to avoid the risk of coverage denial.

Right now, we have the opportunity to discuss health care coverage for those who are unemployed or who can't afford coverage. There are many options being discussed right now by your representatives. It doesn't matter where you stand on the issue; stand up and be heard! Take two minutes of your time and call your senators and Congressional representatives and let them know how having health care or not has impacted your life.

See below for contact information:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to work; for how long?

It's been awhile since I've written. I got a job! The summer has been a fairly steady blur of work, which has been great.

Heading back to work after such a long break left me with all sorts of questions: whether I would adjust to working again being primary among them. Well, I did. It was actually really great to remember that my work ethic, though it had been sidelined for several months, was actually not impacted by the break in the least. In fact, I found myself more focused, determined, and sharp after some time to regroup. I can breathe a sigh of relief on that one. In conversations with friends who are similarly situated, this seems to be a shared concern.

But, like many people now, my job is contingent upon various projects, so there are breaks in between work. The flexibility is really great, and as I am currently on a break, I'm finding time to take care of all of the projects, hobbies, and volunteer activities that I cultivated when initially unemployed.

It seems that the face of employment has already shifted dramatically, which leaves me wondering how our attitudes towards employment will continue to evolve. I know that my has shifted drastically, from being willing to offer up my sense of individuality and freedom in exchange for the illusion of certainty that I'd have a job to not being willing to trade so much of myself for just money. It's a balance, for sure, but as I see people around me choosing to spend more time doing what they love and spending time with their loved ones, it gives me hope that, collectively, we can shift the emphasis from money as a means of self-definition to money as a necessary tool to live. Then we can get on with what really matters!

Until next time...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Emergency Unemployment Compensation

For anyone who's run out of regular unemployment, the federal government offers up to 33 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation (thank goodness!).

How do you obtain this? Ideally, your state unemployment agency will send you an application for emergency unemployment compensation approximately two weeks before your regular unemployment runs out. However, I've been told that these forms can sometimes be sent out a few weeks after your regular unemployment runs out. Yikes! My advice: go to your local unemployment office and collect the form on the off-chance that you're one of the ones who falls through the cracks and has a few week gap in your unemployment benefits!

If your application is accepted, you can keep claiming unemployment benefits as you were before. The same number of employer contacts and job log recording is required. Reporting can usually be done online or via phone, depending upon your state.

It's great to have the additional $25 per week from the feds also; thankfully, many states, such as Washington, have increased the weekly benefit as well. How long will it take for this extra money to give our economy a small push in the right direction? Hopefully, this will allow more individuals and families to hold out just a bit longer until employment is found again.

Until next time, hang in there!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Persisting in the Face of Rejection

If you're unemployed (like I still am) and applying for jobs, you've likely come face to face with a fair number of rejections at this point. They come in all forms, whether they're written, electronic, or the classic money-saving complete and utter lack of response. Let's face it: it's never fun to be rejected, even if you were actually thinking that, after the interview, maybe that wasn't the job for you.

With so many people unemployed, the amazing qualifications of the applicant pool against which we're all competing make it somewhat easier not to take all of these rejections too personally. But, today, I felt more than upset and frustrated, I felt let down by our great capitalistic society. I've been working hard at being unemployed--networking, informational interviews, cover letters, resumes, reading career and life direction books, you name it, I've done it. And, I've been trained that hard work usually results in success. Well, I've hit the same wall that so many have encountered. Hard work in this economy may not mean immediate success, or even any success at all. And sure, I've used this time to redefine what success means to me and all of that. But, honestly, it's exhausting, it's a long road, and feeling like there's no end in sight leads to a feeling of desperation that I'd rather avoid.

So, how do we go on in light of all of the chaos around us? As someone who freaks out when I have to have answers about the future and don't, I simply have to focus on what's immediately in front of me, which is usually sending the next e-mail or working on the next cover letter or shutting down my computer to go for a run. What do you do? Please share your thoughts!

Good luck out there!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Scenic, quick, cheap getaway!

If you're still searching for that perfect job, or just any job for that matter, consider a quick trip to clear your head and bask in the brilliant spring of Portland, Oregon. Though the unemployment rate is high, so is the morale. For some reason, the many months of rain make optimists of nearly everyone when the sun comes out! Residents subsist on bargains and discovering diamonds in the rough is still possible in many of Portlands southeast neighborhoods. A quick jaunt may bring that much needed perspective without a hit to the wallet...

Check out this NY Times article for some great specifics:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thought for the Day: Unemployment #101

This may be the first day that you're unemployed or the three hundred and fifteenth. Either way, you may have more choice with how you spend your time than ever before. Today, do one thing that you deem totally frivolous and non-productive. Take a walk on the beach (or lake if you're inland). Get an ice cream cone and sit outside while eating it. Skips stones. Stop and talk to someone in a coffee shop for awhile (careful not to freak out strangers).

No matter when you get a job, you won't get this day back. You only pass this way once. Make it count.

The Job Search: Handling Rejection

Let's face it. No one likes rejection. It's not fun when trying to make friends on the playground in elementary school, and it's certainly not enjoyable when unemployed and searching for that next job. But, instead of crying to a teacher after recess, being an adult means (hopefully!) taking valuable lessons from the process and forging ahead with the quest for a job.

While some employers still send formal rejection letters ("after careful consideration, your qualifications do not match our needs, blah, blah, blah"), others resort to e-mail acknowledgment of applications with the notice that you'll only be notified if selected for interview. Apparently, it's a money-saving technique, but rejection e-mails would cost no more and be much more personal.

No matter the form of the rejection, what we take from it going forward may shape the future success of our job searches. If you have a contact within the HR department who seems particularly helpful, it wouldn't hurt to review with that individual the reasons that your application did not move forward. You can incorporate this information into your job search process moving forward. If you don't have a handy HR contact, I recommend taking some time to reflect on the jobs demands and your qualifications. Is there anything that you overlooked or could have changed? Debrief your application yourself, and check in with a trusted friend or family member for a reality check. Ultimately, it may be that your application was very strong, but they had someone who was over-qualified who took the position. Often, in recessions, the employment market is quite tight due to an overabundance of extremely qualified workers who spill over into positions for which they are over-qualified (read: it may have nothing to do with you).

Most importantly, no matter who rejects you and as tough as it may be, get up and dust yourself off. The perfect job may be waiting for you right around the corner!