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  1. Jan,
    So many of us are in a similar situation. I am working part-time as a substitute teacher. I went back to college to get my teaching credential and then was not able to find a permanent position. I want my work to be meaningful too but would like at least permanent part-time. I think we go through stages of grief when we are in this situation. First shock, how did this happen? This is not what I planned or intended. Then maybe, anger, frustration, sadness. Then trying to find our way through this transition. A new relationship with work like part-time or temping or finding a new role. I am in the middle of this myself. I think finding others going through this transition is good advice.

  2. As I hit the one year mark today, I can’t help but think – you have unemployment income and savings, why are you complaining? My last paying gig (Data Analyst/ Consultant) did not involve things like benefits or unemployment insurance, or afford me the luxury of savings. Not going out to restaurants? I just threw up a little in my mouth – how about enough money for food or the electricity bill.

  3. Hi Jan!

    We indeed have all been there, and I pray those who don’t know the feeling of suffering a layoff never do. It’s a challenging time and I applaud you for sharpening your skills during this time off. When it happened to me, I decided to open up my world a little. Although it will be harder for you to do with a child to think about, I searched for jobs all over the country. This was back in 2007/8 when the economy was REALLY in trouble. I too lived in Southern California and trying to find an admin job in that economy was not going to happen.

    I drove around the US, got a job on cruise ships, traveled the world and eventually made it back to land. I worked as a nanny in Austin for a year and am now an admin for the largest staffing firm in the world, working in the NYC office.

    While I cannot tell you to move, it should be something you consider when work is tough to find. Use EVERY network you have…post to facebook, chat with friends, go to meetups, tell your church family, create a website, put your resume on monster/careerbuilder/etc. You just never know where the link will happen…I got my job through a friend I met through a friend I met through a friend I met on cruise ships. Literally 3 levels deep of friends and this person got me the job I’ve now been in for 2 1/2 years. So tell everyone you’re looking.

    If you’re not getting interviews, have an HR person look at your resume…something is wrong. If you’re getting interviews but not the job, have an HR person you know “mock interview” you and tell you what you’re doing wrong. Then just be positive. Always smile, feel optimistic and go into every interview with the belief that they need you, not the other way around.

    Good luck!!!

  4. Jan –

    Thanks for the fantastic article, yes there a lot of us right there with you. In 2009 i got laid off from a wonderful job as a project manager and outsource buyer for a large-format advertising display company. i was grateful to find a terrible paycheck job at a $30K annual cut. That company, after grinding my soul into hamburger, went thru a restructure too and i have now been unemployed the better part of a year and a half. Let me also mention that my marriage imploded as well. There are few things more awful than being unemployed and filing for divorce.

    It’s a big job to stay positive – i thought i was doing all the right things: i ratched up my community volunteer work – which has brought me more involvement in the world at large than i ever thought possible. i went back to school when the layoff happened in 2009 and got a fundraising certificate from UCLA Extension, following my desire to want to write grants.
    i have a rock solid background as a project manager and sharp proposal writing skills, i can transition into a development position, i thought. My resume has gotten me some interviews, but i keep getting turned down for not having any experience in the nonprofit business sector, wondering if that’s really the reason i’m getting turned down – even when i’m going for the most basic position.

    i’m continuing to volunteer, am temping as a receptionist, working part time for minimum wage at a shop in the mall, and doing my best to keep the stiff upper lip as the divorce slithers thru my life like a serpent. i’m trying to keep faith that there’s a place for me in the philanthropic world, providing altruistic service, somehow, somewhere down the road.

    Looking forward to checking out the blog Seeking Meaningfulness. Thanks again and good luck!

  5. I reached the 3 year mark without a steady part or full-time job in February. I have tried to get freelance design and photography work with some success, but it doesn’t pay for the groceries or rent. I have been volunteering for a non-profit for 2 years. There is nothing wrong with my resume or interview skills… The trend I see is that a large percentage of employers continue to hire those already employed and not the unemployed (who were laid off due to the recession). It has become a slippery slope because if you weren’t successful within the first 6 months of being laid off, getting noticed, a call, or interview is daunting to say the least. What employers fail to realize is that by overlooking these folks, it keeps prospective donors and consumers on the sidelines. Best wishes to all for achieving what feels like an elusive goal…somehow I still have hope 🙂

  6. Jan,

    Great article! If it’s any encouragement, my journey mirrors yours almost exactly…and I landed on my feet. I worked seven years in an administrative role at a professional services firm, got laid off I nearly 2009. Also decided to transition to nonprofit arena. Was unemployed for 1-1/2 years, during which I volunteered at nonprofits, took classes, did an internship. Eventually a job opened up at a local nonprofit…and I was able to get a recommendation from one of my volunteer gigs, and got hired. It is rewarding…but heads up, salaries are less than the for-profit arena…but benefits are better. Good luck. You’re doing all the right things!

  7. Thank you for all the great comments. I wish everyone good luck in their quest for a meaningful job. Thank you Idealist for being a great website to search for jobs, great articles and help for all those looking for work and seeking something more.

  8. Thank you all so much for sharing your situations…somehow it helps a bit knowing that I am not singled out in my situation. There is some sort of comfort knowing that I am not alone. I will follow the examples here to make myself busy productively. I am an RN , but in administrative support and had been in Medicare B review to review claims that were aberrant or abusive
    ( medicare as well as medicaid have very high fraud issues. I even briefly worked as a nurse consultant in the fraud dept, worked in VA to implement the Interqual criteria to improve the need of the inpt stay…………well , anyway , as you can see I have the education as an RN and the experience in my specialty/area……..but very few takers… there were some in between hiring and my employment did not last —-employers for some reason (nowadays) do not seem to believe in tenure w/ their new employees, so they train short and fragmented and others let you go because “not a fit” or not in their “culture”. Most if not all , my previous job positions, I was” trained in house” and time was not an issue because mentors in these places made the job learniing more efficient and successfull. I noted that some employers in these days do not want to train longer nor are they invested in the tenure of their new employees. Must be the economy or more people than jobs, and yes, the benefits are going away . I truly thank all of you to bare your frustrations to others ’cause it gives us some extended hopes. In all of this ongoing, try not to forget to have compassion for yourself.
    My heart goes to all that is still searching meaningful jobs , but most specially to the ones that is carrying the burden of unemployment and an ongoing life crisis such as a divorce. I have been there too. My advice is to keep on chugging , do what you can that is in your control, and keep your heads up. These too , will pass……….

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