> Current Issues > Business Ethics


May 8, 2009 | by

Reality hit, along with depression. No job. And worse, no chances of finding a new one either.

Unemployed. The word itself sounds ugly. As opposed to "employee" which has a nice ring to it. It took me awhile to get used to it. For the first week, I avoided it as much as possible. "The economy is down... clients are losing money... laid off."

Last hired, first fired. Or in accounting terms (my profession): last in, first out.

Eventually reality, along with depression, hit. Unemployed. No job. And worse, no chances of finding a new one either.

My company couldn't have chosen a better time to let me go. All other firms just wrapped up their annual interview process and were already handing out offers for start dates in a year -- standard practice in accounting firms for those with no experience. In fact, I had procured the position I just lost a year earlier, and was employed less than two months before being bid farewell. So I would likely have to wait until the next round of interviewing in a year from now, in order to start working again a year after that -- two years later!

Who would want to hire someone who hasn't landed (or held) a job in two years of looking?

The key was finding, among the hundreds of firms in the New York area, a firm that was resilient to the current economic situation -- and was hiring. And finding the right person to convince of my indispensability. That person is usually not the receptionist who answers when I call and say, "Hi, I'm looking for a job."

A challenging task, to say the least.

I've learned a lot about searching for a job -- like networking requires notifying the whole world that I am now officially Unemployed and Looking. Sounds a lot like my dating life. Ouch.

Every so often, people would surprise me, usually people I didn't really know.

And I learned a lot about people. Sadly, so many people just didn't get around to helping me out, or only did the barest minimum. And those who were closest to me most often let me down. Safely employed, they couldn't understand what a little extra effort on their part could do. In my mind, I blessed them that they should never be placed in the situation in which they would understand.

But every so often, people would surprise me, usually people I didn't really know. Like the man who, after determining that I wasn't the appropriate candidate for his opening, gave me free and excellent resume advice that really pushed my job search along. He even sent along his resume as a guide.

And the people who responded, "I don't have any openings for you, but I passed your resume on to three people who do." And the aunt who spent hours online job hunting because finding me work was easier than finding me a soul mate.

And my ex-professor, who took time out of his crazy hectic schedule to meet with me, even though he had no positions available in his firm, just to do his best to advise me and help me explore my options.

And most of all, my unemployed friends, who freely and generously sent me links and tips on companies that were looking to hire, and in the process, jeopardizing their own chances at getting the job. Now that's pure, unfettered selflessness. Perhaps only someone who is unemployed can understand the pure torture of not having a job and be willing to help another get out of that situation.

I now understand why boredom is used as a torture method for POWs.

I struggled with fighting an all-consuming hopelessness and obsession resulting from the fruitlessness of my job search. And, thankfully, I improved each day until I got through an entire day without crying once. That took a good two and a half weeks after losing my job.

I am learning to live up to my aspirations of leading a less materialistic life, thanks to my unexpanding bank account.

Now I use my time better, spending more time doing Jewish learning and volunteering regularly. I pray more strongly, and even arranged with an unemployed friend that we would pray for each other, as the sages say, "Anyone who prays for a for friend who has the same need, he will be answered first."

I understand the relationship between putting in my own effort and trusting in God a lot more. This time around, I want to find work in a Jewish environment, one devoid of foul language and fending off flirtations. If I have to wait two years to go back into my chosen profession, I'm dedicating more of that time to growing spiritually. And I am learning to live up to my aspirations of leading a less materialistic life, thanks to my unexpanding bank account.

I am still unemployed, but now, it's "I'm unemployed, but please God, I'll find something soon. It might take a year, but I know eventually I'll find it." Slowly but surely, I am seeing some changes in my job search. Maybe I'll get an interview soon. Maybe I'll even get a job offer. Who knows? Not me, but the Almighty does, so I'm not worried.

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