Mine is a story we have all heard (and many have lived) especially over the few years in America. After high school, I was aimless about working and definitely did not want to further my education. I dreamed of being married, having children and living the “Leave it to Beaver” life. I worked odd jobs; retail, restaurant work and even worked as a bank teller. Then one day my dream life took a nosedive and I found myself divorced, unskilled and close to thirty years old.
I tried to find a job that would support me in any accustom, not just the one I had been accustomed to before. I found that I liked to eat at least once a day, have clothes to wear and have a roof over my head. I tried and tried, but everyone told me that I was not qualified for an office job, which paid better than retail. I had no experience and no education. I heard this over and over again.
One day out of the blue, I got a call from a local company that was hiring for the mail room. I had no idea what that meant, but I interviewed. I distinctly remember their HR person asking why it was taking me so long to find work and I explained that my lack of experience and education was the reason. I was hired for that job. Many years later, the person who interviewed me told me that when she heard that I could not get hired because I was under qualified, she was determined to give me the experience I needed.
I worked in that mail room and learned word processing. I moved up to the “secretarial pool.”
Then I was promoted to be a clerk in the Research and Development Department, then to Sales Support and my final position which was Area Secretary to R&D. I was the clerical support for two Vice-Presidents and eighteen engineers and technicians. I spent just about twenty years there. A lot of things changed over the years, but I gained a lot of experience.
During that time, I also went back to school. I earned my Associate’s Degree at a local community college at night and started work on my Bachelor’s Degree in Weekend College. I still only have four classes to take to achieve that goal. So when I was laid off late in 2008, I felt secure because now I had experience and education.
Unfortunately, the economy took such a huge tank it was hard for anyone to find work even with experience and education. I tried and tried to find work at small companies, large companies, retailers, restaurants, insurance companies…just about anywhere. Luckily, I found a part-time office job and worked there for over a year.
Around the time I was laid off, my husband had been also. His skill set was much more specific than mine and finding work in his field was nearly impossible. I was glad for my little office job. We learned other ways to make money, such as writing, selling things on eBay and doing odd jobs.
Then one day, I was feeling unusually optimistic and I put my notice in at my job with the hopes of finding something full time and with benefits. How bad could it be…it was the end of 2010 and things were looking up? The economy had to be better than it was back in 2008. I was WRONG! Things, in our area, were not getting better; I was just too clueless to know it.
Since October of 2010, I have sent over 200 resumes out to area companies. I have gotten a few interviews, which I thought went great, but then ended up not working out. I was always told that I had to sell myself. So I did, and then it became clear that I was over-qualified. It did not matter that I needed a job and needed it yesterday. I knew I was not going to be making the money I was making after almost twenty years at my old job. I knew that going into this process. No one seemed to care.
Now I hear that my experience is not specific enough or that it is way too much for the job they are offering. So all those years of working to gain experience and education I needed was a waste of time. I realize that things you learn cannot be taken away from you, but am back to wanting to eat every day, etc. The inevitable happened after the layoffs, we had to file bankruptcy and our credit scores went down the sewer. This is another problem to deal with. Some reports say that up to 70% of prospective employers look at your credit report. Why not, they have so many people applying for one job; they have the luxury of hiring whomever they want.
So here I am, starting a new job tomorrow in retail. Funny, that is where it all started for me. I am back to square one except this time I am not twenty but almost fifty. It stings a little bit, but I am determined to be happy for this job no matter the pay (just over minimum wage) or the hours (it is retail after all). They hired me when no one else would and I will honor that as best I can.
I know a lot of you are in similar positions. I honestly believe that things happen for a reason and that reason is good even if we cannot see it now. I am going to hold on and keep cutting back as much as I can. I have learned to do a lot of things I never thought I could do to save money and that is not an entirely bad thing. My sister and our friends help a lot…my ego hated that at first, but if you have people willing to help you, take the help. One day you may be able to return the favor. Just remember that egos do not taste good and they do not keep you warm in winter.
There is a plan and I, obviously, have no idea what it is or what the end result will be but I am hanging on and I hope you do too. Under-qualified or over-qualified, what does it matter? It is their loss and someone, somewhere wants you. Good luck to everyone out there who is struggling, it is hard and it does not seem fair, but it will work out somehow. I am praying for you. Good luck!