My Unemployed Life: Sharing the Knowledge

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unemployed My name is Syndi Blatt, and I am a 52-year-old woman who was recently laid off, after working for 25 years. Six months ago, my boss walked into my office and closed the door. He was accompanied by the president of the nonprofit organization we worked for, so I knew immediately that I was getting the axe.

Rumors had been flying rampantly about additional layoffs, since donations were down dramatically. The president of the organization talked for about 15 minutes, but my head was spinning and I heard nothing of what he said. I was to work for the next two months and then I would receive a severance package. Big deal!


A fruitless search

Now I had to find another job in this horrible economy. For the next two months I didn't do any work actually related to my job, despite still going in to the office. I spent all my time on the Internet checking out the job boards from Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, etc. This was completely new to me, since in the past, I was used to going through the newspaper's want ads and sending out my resume. Back then, it took me around four weeks to land a new job.

I was somewhat hopeful in the beginning. There weren't a lot of jobs in my field of accounting, but I sent my resume to the job openings that I did find. I got zero responses in all the months that I searched online. I was getting so depressed and frustrated.

At that same time, a good friend of mine was also laid off from her job. We started spending time together trying to come up with a better plan for finding a job. We decided it was a good idea to brush up on our skills, especially since we had so much time on our hands. We looked on the Internet and found loads of free courses at the local libraries and hospitals.

We started taking all kinds of computer classes, from PowerPoint to Microsoft Word. At the local hospitals, we signed up for all sorts of wellness classes, from "Better Posture" to "How to Worry Less." We found so many classes to register for that we felt like we were being productive again. It was actually enjoyable getting up in the morning!

A great idea

My friend and I wanted to do something more. We wanted to share this information with other unemployed women. By taking these classes, we felt we were gaining so much information -- especially about writing resumes and handling interview questions -- we wanted to pass our knowledge along. So we designed a website especially for unemployed women. We called it simply UnemployedWoman.com.

Doing that has brought us to a new level. By sharing our journey and connecting with other women in our situation, we feel like we are really accomplishing something special. So many women have written to us thanking us for sharing our information. Many women have written expressing their frustrations and fears.

We try to give them advice that we have found helpful, like to make an appointment, to meet with a recruiter at a temp agency. While the pay may be less than a management position's salary, it's a great way to restart your cash flow and further increase your network. Temping also makes you feel productive, which is extremely important while being unemployed.

We realized that when you are unemployed, it's very important to have some enjoyable time. It makes no sense to spend the whole day worrying or sitting in front of a computer screen searching endlessly for jobs. I found that I was a much more productive person when I set time aside for myself. Much to my surprise, there are so many activities available that are free.

So we further expanded our site to include free activities to do. Many states offer free tours that further acquaint you with the area's history. Philadelphia is a perfect example of having great free tours that offer a wealth of history. It's so much fun and very educational to tour through the historic homes and walk in the footsteps of our forefathers.

Arizona has many great hiking trails that are free or very inexpensive, like walking through Walnut Canyon to experience the ancient Native American dwellings that remain in the canyon. Sedona has some awesome rocks that you can climb and witness magnificent views. It's a great way to get exercise and clear your head at the same time. When you arrive at the top of the rock formation, the views are breathtaking! You really feel like you have accomplished something.


A whole new attitude

The last area that we focus on is saving money. There are so many coupon sites available on the Internet, you can save money every time you purchase something. Some sites actually let you download the coupon savings right to your grocery-store card. It's so easy and the savings really can add up. Some coupon sites give you a rebate on the percentage of your total purchase. With a little research, we have found that you can save substantial amounts of money just at the supermarket. We have researched ways to save money on insurance premiums and ways to save on credit cards and checking accounts.

My unemployed time has now become very exciting. I love going to all the classes and researching all the ways I can save money. I also love that I have a way of passing this information along to other women that are unemployed. We have even been featured on the Dallas and Denver television news. Everyone that we have met has been so friendly, and the experience has been priceless.

Now I don't spend my time feeling depressed and defeated. I am thrilled to see how the day unfolds and what activity or class I can sign up for next. Staying positive and productive is the key to living out your unemployed days. With that attitude, I am sure that a new adventure is just around the corner. And a new job, too.

Next: My Unemployed Life: I Felt Emasculated


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