Unemployed? I prefer “Job Free”

Before my mother died, I had a 100% hire rate for every job I interviewed for. Since April 2009, I’ve landed one job from someone who didn’t know me prior. I was fired from it four months later.

I tried not to take it personally. We parted on good terms. It was a personal assistant gig, and I wasn’t the be-on-call-24-7-for-someone’s-life-details kind of person. I like a clear line between work and home, and the job made me feel like I was permanently on-call.

But the failure still burned. I was an A-student. I wasn’t the type of person to lose their job because my employer wasn’t satisfied. I tried to shake it off. I interviewed for a political web site where I would have been writing the pros and cons of issues — a dream job — and didn’t get it. A temp agency sent me out on an interview for a one-month admin position at a furniture store. I wasn’t right. I went out for a media job with a two-page resume detailing my journalism and television experience. I wasn’t chosen.

Was I a victim of the economy or was my energy different? Was I exuding some sort of Death Star grief aura that was repelling potential employers? Or was this what it was like being unemployed at age 34 as opposed to 22? I was too experienced to get paid nothing yet not young enough to seem thoroughly compliant. Interviewers asked me again and again, “What about the television writing? Is that something you still want to do?” I could see the fear flicker behind their eyes.

Yes, it was. Something I had waited patiently for despite a string of part-time writers’ assistant roles that failed to pay my bills. Something I had worked hard for, pitching ideas, stories, scripts to employers and agents. Something that if realized would pay my bills and not leave me scraping by. And the door was still open on those creative opportunities, but at 34, when do you close it? When do you scrap what you want to do to do something you didn’t choose in the interest of being realistic?

Before my mom died, I’d worked steadily for four years. I had my foot in the door. I could have gotten on another show immediately after “Eleventh Hour” wrapped. But I chose not to. I moved home. I took care of my mother. I did the right thing. And I refuse to accept that the cost of doing the right thing is no longer being relevant to the workforce, to no longer have the capability to financially take care of myself.

I believe I am talented enough to do anything — to satisfy an employer at a media-related 9-5 (or 9-6 as it now’s become), to deliver creative ideas and well-written scripts to a television showrunner, to design websites for businesses or friends.

I refuse to believe my talents no longer have a home. Could be, it’s time for me to invent one.

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6 Responses to Unemployed? I prefer “Job Free”

  1. monica923 says:

    I like your attitude! And since this written in April I am sure by now you have found a pretty perfect job or are in the process of creating one!

  2. I wish your mother were alive to read this and celebrate you. You write so well. And 34 is really, really young to put up with such bullshit — I’m 20 years your senior, lost my fancy job at the Daily News and haven’t even tried for a staff job since. You may, even for a while, be a lot happier away from that world. Which is not to deny you miss it and are frustrated by a lousy job search. This economy is brutal and job-seekers treated poorly, many people are telling me.

  3. Unfortunately, writing, marketing and many of the more creative-type jobs are undervalued talents in today’s job market. They’re like golf: most anyone can play golf, but few play it well. But because things such as writing and marketing are subjective, many bosses think they can do it as well as the next person, so they wonder what’s the point of paying someone.

    Your idea of seeking out your path is a good one. You’ve likely got experience, talents and ideas unique to yourself. If you can find a way to market them so prospective clients see the value in what you have to offer, you can do quite well. And with the economy still in the tank, many companies are looking for individuals who can do work for them on a part-time basis, rather than, as you’ve found out, hiring someone full-time.

  4. maryangelis says:

    Dear Nicole,
    You really did do the right thing, and that right thing piled on skills and talents and intuition that are good as gold in the right workplace with the right people.
    At any age in any field there are possibility thinkers who can recognize that.
    Years ago a friend of mine in computer sales took 2 years off to nurse his partner with AIDS, then interviewed to get back into computer sales, explaining the gap as “Caring for a sick relative.” After months of rejection, he landed a superb job when one entrepreneur said “That’s the kind of loyalty and commitment I’ve been dreaming of,” and they shook hands on the spot.
    Your new job sounds good by the way.
    Off to comment on the other post now…
    Thank you for writing,

  5. Ritu KT says:

    I like the term job-free. I have been there for longer than I’d anticipated. I was an A-student too and took great pride in it. But things do not work out in life based in grades. It is a weird sum of timing+luck+Something else+a little bit of talent. I’ve been told that I have the last one, waiting for the other three.

  6. omg ….i know there is nothing new under the sun…but the parallels of my life and yours are mind-blowing….and this one here ….damn. I haven’t got much transferred onto my site yet…but thanks for already being here and sharing and going through and worrying and wondering about all the things I have/am/will share, go through, worry and wonder about …first chance I get.

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