Monday, March 17, 2014

Why Were You Unemployed?

Believe it or not, I was asked that question on a job interview.  I have two things to discuss about this and I promise I will stop writing about this recent bout of joblessness. Even I'm getting bored with it!

First off, how does one explain to a hiring manager what the job market has been like for the past six years?  I temped at companies that had hiring freezes or huge rounds of lay-offs in the banking industry, consumer goods, and healthcare.  Was there an industry 2008 to present that did not have workforce reductions and still was hiring?  Did I lose the magical compass that pointed True Employment? My MBA degree got me interviews but did not open up employment options.  For three years I was a temp. How do I answer a question that implies there's something wrong with me and ignores what was going on in the job market?

Secondly, how can a fully functioning human being be so clueless?  Yes, I'm sure it must be nice in your cushy job that you've had for a decade.  Maybe you noticed there isn't a receptionist anymore at work or there are new faces in accounting every couple of months.  The office supplies closet is really dwindling and your health plan's deductible has doubled.  You don't listen to NPR and when you watch the news, the unemployed are Those People. The lazy, uneducated who would rather suckle at the government teat than earn a living.  Or, on the flip side, you are scared to death that you could lose your job so you stick your head in the sand.  If you meet one of Those People, you have to blame them for their joblessness because if it isn't their fault, whose is it?  That scares you.

I didn't get the job where that question was asked. I have to figure out an appropriate response to that question now because apparently that is still a question in MOTHER FUCKING TWO THOUSAND AND FOURTEEN.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should come to the realization that you are unemployable from a corporate perspective and need to seek a position with the Burger Kings of the world. Get to work like the rest of the world!!

Anonymous said...
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Pat said...

I hear you on this one. I always said reduction in workforce of reduced sales eliminated the supporting positions.

After being laid off for the 3rd time in 10 years and having interviewed with 40 sonethimg CEOs and executives who never said, but were thinking "she's too old for us", I decided to semi retire. In reality, semi retired was my way to deal with being "under employed". I currently work for less than half of my executive salary, but I make enough - to pay my bills, to live a normal life. The most interesting outcome is that I LOVE MY JOB. My days are busy, my tasks diverse and I have the ability to interact with all kinds of people every day. Although I miss the money, I don't miss the stress, the corporate crap and taking care of the bottom line instead of taking care of the customer. I wish you luck as you search for the next chapter of your adventure!

Anonymous said...

The truth is, the recruiter KNOWS why you were unemployed. Asking obnoxious questions like that is a tactic to see how the interviewee handles being asked difficult questions. It is a measure of how you do under pressure; I've asked questions to that end during interviews (though not that specific question). Just keep that in mind for next time.