Article 43


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Job Hunter’s Experience

Here’s a story all unemployed and underemployed middle-aged, middle-class techies can relate to.


For Cassandra Bridgeforth, persistence and optimism are key after finding herself back in the realm of resume-writing and interviewing

By Todd Beamon
Orlando Sentinel
February 24, 2003

Still looking for work after eight months, in a tight economy, Cassandra Bridgeforth easily UNDERSTANDS WHY someone can become discouraged.

It’s all a game, said Bridgeforth, 50, of Mount Washington, who was laid off from her $45,000-a-year computer job at Lucent Technologies Inc. in Hunt Valley in May. When you’re out there looking, they look at everybody as if they didn’t have anything.

If you finally get to an interview, they look at your experience and say you’re overqualified, Bridgeforth continued. Or, they may offer you something paying $8 an hour.

For $8 an hour, I could say that I am working, but I’m not paying my bills—and they act like that $8 job is a big thing.

Bridgeforth, who is retraining as a Web designer at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, started looking for work right after being laid off. She qualified within three weeks for unemployment compensation of $256 a week, she said, and has a week remaining on the recent benefits extension by the Bush administration.

I couldn’t have taxes taken out because I couldn’t afford to, she said. I’ll worry about the [Internal Revenue Service] after Metro and Giant.

Bridgeforth also has depleted her 401(k) and other savings to pay her living expenses, which includes an $800 mortgage. She also worked four temporary jobs, including two in the hospitality industry and one each in data entry and secretarial work.

Since being laid off, Bridgeforth estimates that she has applied for as many as 200 jobs—sending out 10 applications a week since September alone. Her search took her to Web sites, employment agencies, temporary agencies and state and local job banks.

I’d apply for whatever I could? she said. If it sounded like I could shoe-horn my way into it, I applied for it.

Her endeavors brought fewer than five interviews and one possible offer—with a collections agency, paying about $13 an hour. The offer is pending reference checks. Some money is better than no money, she said.

But getting this far after so many months has not come without much effort—and discouragement—which, Bridgeforth said, began settling in around September.

I wasn’t getting anything, she said. Things were getting slower and slower. Since December, it was a dead issue.

It was like the world stood still, Bridgeforth continued. No replies, no nothing. I got little cards saying Thanks for applying. I call those nastygrams.

The job interviews only added to her frustration. That’s when she easily became discouraged, she said.

Many of the [employers] out there are looking at industry experience, Bridgeforth said. If you don’t have that, you fall back on your general experience—but they say you’re going to leave, so they don’t want to hire you.

Or, she added, they’ll see what [salary] you’re making and they try to lowball you when you get in there. Don’t ask me over the phone what I want and then lowball me when I get there.

There’s frustration and discouragement that goes into it, but you have to keep going because if you don’t, then you won’t be able to, she said.

Bridgeforth got into the UMBC program with the help of Baltimore Works, a local job-training program, but the bureaucracy surrounding the grant she received for her $7,000 tuition, obtained from state employment retraining funds, have stretched what normally is a six-week program by several months. She hopes to obtain certification by April.

In the meantime, Bridgeforth REMAINS HOPEFUL that she will find employment. Sooner or later, if I put in enough effort and go to a lot places, I will definitely hook up with something.


Posted by Elvis on 05/01/07 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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