I had the experience of something I hadn't been a part of in nearly twenty years... unemployment. I learned something rather quickly about being unemployed is that this is more of a journey than a simple trip. Trying to make the move from the world of education to the vast universe of basically...everybody else can be rather frustrating and confusing. One of the first things I had to learn was the new jargon, for example: Lead - the person just above the regular worker but, just under the supervisor. In teaching, there is no such thing; I guess the best version I can come up with is either a coordinator or a vice-principal. Production performance - the means of how well of an output one creates within a certain time and/or quality ("quota" is another term used). In education, test scores sadly are used as a barometer for how well a teacher is performing but, there are checks and balances on how well the information is being delivered and received by the students. I really wasn't sure how I was going to fit in with the whole industrial process. I have heard that teachers have been successful in making the transition, but I'm not sure where I might fit in.
I have learned that hearing back from possible jobs can take a long time...a really long time. In education, teachers would normally apply in February and run all the way to August, but many personnel decisions are made rather quickly before the new school year starts. There have been cases where I've applied over the summer and received a new teaching job within a month or less. Right now, education is short on money all over the states and they are forced to cut as many corners a possible. When I first started, the one big thing I heard the most was they were looking for teachers with experience. Of course that was really frustrating considering how do you get experience if you can't begin somewhere? The irony is when I was trying to get a new teaching position now, however, I was too expensive...nearly 20 years, certified in Theater/Speech 7-12 and Social Studies 5-12 and now had too much experience. This whole teaching job just didn't seem fair. Here are the states I actually applied for teaching position with (Not Exaggerating...) Minnesota, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri (of course), Arkansas and I believe Texas: this wasn't one school per state, no, no, no - these were several schools across the states. I believe I had about 150 applications on file for the 2015-16 school year. NOT ONE JOB OFFER. PERIOD. In many ways it felt like a huge slap in my professional face! The reality was that I would have to look in a new direction for future employment, the world of teaching was over for me.
I thought since I was going to make the move into the cooperate circles I had to figure out where I might best fit in. I wanted to use my teaching experience and apply it to any perspective business so I decided to try the corporate training positions. When I first started the search, I thought this would be a shoe-in because what business wouldn't want a former teacher as a new trainer...made sense, or so I thought. I kept getting turned down time and time again; and I had no idea what I was doing wrong. I did figure out that businesses wanted people who already knew the system and could train people on how to be effective on the job. Since you know that I have Asperger's Syndrome I decided a really good idea was to contact my local Voc-Rehab center. If you're not sure what Vocational-Rehabilitation is, it's a federal/state funded place where they help people like myself...with a disability (could be mental or physical)...to either help gain a job and keep it, or go back to school to be educated for a new career. I also got in touch with several job staffing centers. Most people tend to label them as 'temp' agencies but, they do much more than simply trying to slot you into a temp job. Many agencies want to see you have a type of job you really have in mind - like being part time or full time. Most centers will give you general testing to see what skills you might have and what jobs might be best for you. In the long run, they really did try to help me, but I was not the typical kind of person they 'usually' see. I realized I needed to expand my search for any position I could do with the skills I already had - anything like management, sales, human relations, or other things an experienced teacher could do, I really had to think outside of the box. I honestly had a difficult time with the corporate arena as well because there were lots of people vying for the same jobs so the talent pool was rather broad. I believe I roughly had 100 'no thank you' letters, not including ones I still haven't heard from yet.
The two biggest enemies were depression and desperation. One of the best pieces of advice I gained through the whole job finding process was not to sound desperate. Being worried about trying to get a job can really turn off the hiring managers because a manager needs a person who is willing to work for them not because they have to but, because to want to. Pulling on the pant leg of a person will turn off anyone...just ask your significant other! You want to work for places that might seem really interesting and where you might gain some new skills and experiences. I've addressed depression in some form or another in this blog series. Nothing will drag you down more than the feeling of hopelessness. I wish I could give you a magic formula that would solve the depression problem but, lying to you would do any good. I'm a devout Christian and I've always looked to the Lord for help and comfort but, there are still times when that didn't always help. It's not that God didn't care, it's just that there are times when the Lord is working to help you but, it's not always going to be in YOUR time. I've learned (and still learning) that lesson the hard way! No matter what, you never give up. I always told myself that if I finished a job application that means there is another chance for me to get a job, but you must never stop! As I stated earlier, there are people out there whose job it is to help get you a job; you are never alone. You will need to suck it up and step out to meet with these people. Another great place to go is a job fair; it is worth the effort to go and meet the people face to face. Just make sure you pre-plan who you might want to meet at the fair and then dress really nice (professional) and have plenty of resumes in hand.
Unemployment sucks! The best part is there is something you can do about it, and like I said before just don't do it alone, get help! There are lots of people out there who want to see you succeed!
Song of Inspiration [Check it out on iTunes or Android!]:
Song: "Eye of the Storm"
Artist: Ryan Stevenson
Album: Fresh Start
Here is the official lyric video of the selected song. I have to give credit to my beautiful wife on this song!