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Friday, 2 September 2011
Why I'm Unemployable
Recently, I realized I’m unemployable.
Not employable in the conventional sense, anyway.
The good news is that being unemployable doesn’t mean you have to be unemployed.
1. I don’t fit in a box
I have never fit in, really. I have been a freelancer for 15 years. I have covered some unusual subjects in my career. I am six-foot-one. I grew up in Berkeley, California. In other parts of the country, the goal is to fit in. In Berkeley, the goal is to not fit in.
It’s seven months later, and that never happened.
When I got downsized, I panicked. That panic led to wishful thinking. I started to believe that if I just got my resume right, if I just sent my resume to the right person, if I just said the right thing in an interview, I would get a real job, just like everyone else.
2. If you are different, others may fail to recognize you
This is not to say I am unemployed. I am full-time self-employed. Given the economy, the unemployment rate, and the Great Recession, this is something of a miracle.
Currently, “the average worker who is unemployed has been searching for a job for 40.4 weeks.” If you have never been unemployed in a tough economy, you might think people who spend 40 weeks looking for a job are lazy. They are not. It’s hard out there for an unemployed person.
I was fully self-employed within four months. People who dole out career advice for a living will claim they can tell you why this is the case, but nobody knows, not really. I did not seek to be self-employed. In fact, as I recall, not long after I was downsized, I hollered at someone it would be “impossible” for me to be self-employed. It wouldn’t happen with my skill set in this economy.
I became self-employed, and then it took me a while to realize what I had done. I thought I was piecing together a few jobs so I wouldn’t end up homeless. In reality, I had created an alternative to unemployment. Maybe unconsciously I knew that no one would ever hire me for a full-time “regular” job. They never had. Why would they now?
3. Break out of the system before it breaks you
Not long ago, I made a dedicated attempt to get a certain full-time “real” job. Eventually, though, I got a call, and the answer was no. But before that call came, I had been feeling not right about it. After all, while the amount of work I do now is overwhelming at times, I am supporting myself, as best I can. To do that job would have meant giving up what I have.
For what? The middleman is being cut out of the marketplace, consumers and creators are learning how to develop relationships that serve both sides better, and the big companies are failing to understand how to work right in the new economy. To be a part of that was not what I wanted.
Since I had that revelation, I have been working on projects I’m passionate about. I am remembering who I was before some things got me off track and I started to forget who I was. I am working on giving up on getting a job I will never get.
Of course, none of this is easy. But it is better than trying to fit into a box.