Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One, Two, Three

This is the pattern. Wake up on Monday and open up the online version of the classifieds - the job websites on and Scour through the ads to find three that I can apply for. Print out the job listings, open up the folder that contains all of my resumes and various cover letters. Brew some coffee. Start sending out applications. And keep notes on everything in my handy-dandy job search log.

In order to receive my weekly unemployment check, there are a couple of things I need to do. I have to file a weekly claim, and I have to answer a few questions. No, I didn't work last week. Yes, I was available every day for work. No, I didn't work in self-employment. No, I didn't skip any job interviews, didn't serve on a jury, didn't earn any income from any other sources.

Yes, I applied for three jobs last week.

It doesn't sound that hard, does it? Find three jobs and apply for 'em. Big deal. I could do that in my sleep. It's mandated by the state, although of course I'd probably be sending in three applications or more anyway whether or not I had to. I hate being unemployed. I want to get back to work.

When I started looking for work in January, I found a slew of job postings. I could find four each week on Monday morning, and I had my pick of the fundraiser jobs. I could put aside jobs that I was underqualified or overqualified for, or were too far away. I printed out job descriptions and saved them for the following weeks. I was feeling confident, both that the jobs would never run out and that I'd find a position soon.

This lasted until the beginning of April, when I noticed that things were getting tight. Now, it's getting to be a real struggle to find those three jobs every week. Often, I find one job early in the week, apply for it, and then wait for the other two to surface later in the week. It's a waiting game. For example, today is Wednesday. I've applied for one job. I have another one I'm looking into. I don't know what that third job is going to be. It hasn't been posted yet.

I'm checking other websites more frequently, and more desperately, now -, the WorkSource website, the University of Washington jobs site. I might even start going to the spam-infested CareerBuilder website again if it keeps this bad.

If I get really desperate, there is another option. I can go down to the job training center and do an approved job search there. Meaning, I check in with one of the counselors, tell them what I'm looking for, and let them search to try and find jobs for me. That can count as one of my three "job activities." I haven't had to resort to that yet, but it might be happening soon.

This is what I think is happening. I'm looking for nonprofit work. Nonprofits (and regular businesses, I suppose) operate on one of two budget cycles - a simple calendar year budget, which rolls over in January, or a fiscal year budget, which runs from July-June. So when I started looking for work in January, it just happened to be the time of year when several organizations were starting new budget cycles and had fresh money freed up for hiring. I was in the right place at the right time.

Now, however, things are slowing down. It's the middle of the budget cycle for some orgs and the end of the budget year for others. And most nonprofits operate on a shoestring budget, so they don't just have reserve money floating around. They live budget to budget. Most orgs are going to wait until their budget rolls over before taking on the expense of a new employee. So I might have to wait until July until the job pools really start expanding again.

That's assuming the job search stretches that long, and I really hope it doesn't. I don't want to be unemployed on my birthday, a month from now. I really don't want to go through the summer without a job. I can't even imagine going for six months without work, even though I know it's happening to a lot of people right now. I have never gone that long without a job, and I hope it doesn't happen.

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