Van Nuys, Calif. — My search for full-time work has led me from the mountains to the prairies and back again. While I don’t like to ruminate on things too much, the fact that I have been unemployed in a fairly consistent fashion since 2007 is a frightening statistic. Moreover, the great lengths I’ve gone to, the allegiances I’ve formed, and the constant times I’ve refined and sharpened down my search has made me question whether the job search is worth it at all or not. Of course it is but this trip from the unemployment offices is nothing that I’d wager any good, hard-working, resourceful American would ever imagine they should ever have to do; let alone when they are as practiced a college educated, smooth-talking B.S. artist as I am. I never had a problem getting work before 2007; then the recession began its deadening zombie-dance.
When Did I Become Unemployed?
I became unemployed when for New Years in 2006/07 I quit my job. I’d had enough of the “rat race” I’d had a little savings and I was going back to college. I didn’t need any stinking job. I was living in New York City with my then fiancée and even though I’d left my 9-5 “desk job,” I had this new inroad doing “freelance writing,” for the World Wide Web. According to my own modest calculations; the sky was the limit!
My Industry of Choice
After sputtering around for a while in 2007 as a freelance writer I quickly learned that freelance writing is just like anything else; without the correct assignments, a little bit of skill, and a whole lot of luck; you’re just left to fend for yourself with the rest of the masses. I didn’t want to get back into a desk job so I took my good graces and went into the hospitality field where I quickly learned that the best place for a person like me was on the third shift. Thus solidified my already strong alliance with the overnight shift; I had worked in a gas station, diner, radio station, and storefront as an overnight attendant in my leaner years; this new role working in a hotel seemed to be the perfect fit for my low tolerance of interaction with customers as well as my more innate nocturnal tendencies. The overnight shift workers in hotels are either lifers or lightning bolts. I’ve found that I have the lifers’ outlook with the lightning bolts tendencies. I kept falling back on my freelance writing for a number of independent SEO companies but, running concurrent with this, was the rise of Google whose search tools were re-writing the rulebook of search and excluding a lot of bogus (easier) SEO stuff that I was working on. So as quickly as the freelance riches had sprung up, they dried back up.
Search for Work
I have been looking for steady hotel work since 2007 consistently. I would go onto the job search boards; Monster, HotJobs, and Craigslist were three of the big places I’d go to. But I’d also seek out jobs by going directly to the hotels websites where I was looking for work. There is a website called HotelJobs which I found not as heavily trafficked by the hotels where I was looking for work. Then of course there was the age old art of pounding pavement, dropping off resumes, and the ancient synergy of timing. Occasionally I would be lucky enough to happen on a hotel just as the need for a job became apparent. However just like the re-bound guy in dating, I often found that the feelings were too raw and the emotion too fresh to have any success with these particular properties.
Success is Relative
I have been looking for work in a variety of markets with a variety of conflicting stressors on each end. It seems that my search for work in Southern California was the bleakest of all. I searched in a passive way for the whole four year period and in an active way the whole 18 months or so I was living in SoCal with no luck whatsoever. I found one part-time opportunity which didn’t work out because of the distance I had to travel combined with the apathy of the management. In New York City my search was a little more successful but the economic stresses of living in Manhattan made recently keeping jobs there unattainable. I have found a job in the oddest of places; Charleston South Carolina. The economics of Charleston aren’t nearly as impressive as a bigger city like New York or Los Angeles but the stressors are far more relaxed too. So for now anyway, I have found a good balance in Charleston.
Broader Economic Outlook
It seems that people aren’t hiring in bigger cities (Los Angeles in particular) and that is worrisome. In my experience anyway, it seems across-the-board that hotels need the help. But the economics of hiring decent help in places isn’t something that’s really something that’s possible, given the current economic situation. The government in California is broke and the leadership keeps driving them further into debt. In New York it’s a little bit better but Mike Bloomberg can only be mayor for so long so the billionaire’s extended tenure in office may be only delaying the pain New Yorkers are soon to feel. I don’t really know enough about the economy of Charleston to comment but they are no more immune to the big government mistakes of the past few years than any other locality.
We live with family. My wife and I live with my brother and his girlfriend and grandfather in our grandfather’s house. It’s not nearly as strenuous a situation as people may first think but maybe that’s because sleeping in a bed with four walls of your own is much better than sleeping along the side of the highway in southern states. It’s also not perfect so we are open to the opportunity to change our situation.
Some people may have ridden this whole economic downturn with the same job they always had; these people may have ended up being the smartest people in the room. Still, there is an already stale malcontent with the economic picture in America. Without swift and decisive action from our politicians, cleaning up the corrupt financial system, and renewed interest in American products, services, innovation, and creation, we all will be idling the days away until our world will again be okay.