Recession Mama

{April 26, 2009}   A lot of questions, but few answers

Hey mamas and papas it’s Heather B. We’ve all lost a job at one time or another so we know EXACTLY what it’s like to be in the weeds. My friend Liz is no different. She’s stuck in some serious bamboo and can’t find her way out. She’s a hardworking, fabulous gal! But so far employers haven’t noticed that yet (jerks) She’s lost out on another job. This is where we pick up her story (after the jump).


As I sit here and wait… to hear from my next prospective employer… I realize why patience is considered a virtue. You’ve heard a watched pot never boils. A waited by phone… never rings, either.
It all started 135 days ago … (Tomorrow) Monday, April 27th will begin week #20, I can’t believe how quickly 4 ½ months have flown by. Plus, in the mail this weekend came the latest “Were sorry” notice that again, I am not the “chosen one.” Good luck with your search! Thanks, that really makes it all better.

Then of course there are the second guessers of what they believe you did wrong during the interview, what you said wrong, why you didn’t get the job. I told you not to tell them that. Not to say that. Do they really think yelling at you, browbeating you, forcefully telling you… how you so obviously screwed up is going to make you feel any better? Maybe they are right about why you didn’t get the job. But how will you ever know? It’s not as if the potential employer who has already decided to hire someone else plans on giving you the laundry list of why they chose that person over you. So why go second guessing yourself in the first place? What good does that do you or anyone else? Will it change anything? Does it change how you plan on going into your next job interview? Maybe, I guess that’s up to me on whether or not I want to take their advice.

But telling you “Here’s what you need to do now!” doesn’t really help when what you need from them right now to kiss the boo-boo and make it all better.

There’s plenty of time for screaming when the pity party is done. Can I at least have 24 hours to mourn the loss of the job I wanted? When you are down and feeling this low does it really help to have someone pile on the blame and the criticism? Will they praise you with the same gusto when you finally do land a gig? Please, can we just have some kind of moratorium on dealing with the all this rejection?


Plus, they seem to have all the answers (or believe they do) about what you need to do next, who you need to call, which direction you need to head. How much should you weigh what these people think? How much should you go with their intuition over your own? How much weight do you give their opinion, when you know they are in your corner and have your back? How much can you trust their judgment over your own? Do they really have a better grasp of you than you have of yourself? Especially considering the longer you are in this situation the more your reality is skewed by your current situation. How much do you need an outsider’s perspective? It brings up the age old question: What’s your perception and what’s the reality? Do they know your strengths and weaknesses better than you? How much of their kudos and criticism are you expected to take without fighting back… mad and frustrated? Is either of you really right or wrong in this situation? What if they have done way more hiring than you ever hope to have interviews? Does that make a difference? Should it? Is it just because they are forcing you to see yourself in the mirror and look at yourself, in a way you don’t want to?

What are your issues, really?

I thought I did well in the interview. Is it about what I did wrong or what someone else had done so right? Was I what they were looking for in the first place? Did I exceed their expectations? I don’t know. Was I over qualified? Under qualified? Did I fit the requirements and not the culture of the office? Did I not have the right personality or did I have too much personality? Did I talk too much? Say something I shouldn’t have? Not answer their questions correctly or directly? Did they believe my answers to be truthful? Did I go on, and on, and on … too much? Were they worried that I would bail the minute I got another opportunity? Were they looking for a lifer who has no ambition? Was it all about you and what you did or didn’t bring to the table? Because before I left the interview and in the e-mailed follow-up thank you, I stated I wanted the job.

So, when you have 5 or 6 equally qualified candidates… what puts one over the top of the others? Did one of them, blow them away Michael Phelps style and in turn you out of the water and this job?

Were you really ever in the race to begin with? On your mark, ready, set, GO! Were they already out of the blocks and you hadn’t even gotten into the job pool yet? How will you ever know what’s been right and wrong all along until you get to the employment finish line.


How honest should you be in an interview? What do they really need to know about you? What do they want to know? When you call hiring a process, what should be included and what should be left out? Isn’t this about getting to know you and you getting the chance to know them? What should you keep a secret about yourself till you get the job? What should you be up front about from the beginning? Do you know the difference? How can you tell? Is this just about the job and their business and they really don’t want to know anything about you as a person, just what you can do for them in a work capacity? That seems hard for me to believe. What is keeping you from capitalizing on this and every other opportunity that you have had? What phrases (are you using) are keeping you from getting the job you so desperately desire and need? Did they know better than you that this just wasn’t going to work out in the long run? Was this just not the right job for you? The one you were meant to get? That the job you are meant to get, is just around the corner hiding out of your reach right now. Where and when will I find it? Am I looking in the right places? Am I putting myself out there enough? Or am I just over thinking it too much? Too many questions and not enough answers.

Is the devil really in the details? Should I treat this more like dating, and as a first date? One where they “just weren’t that into me” and it’s better to find out now rather than after you have gotten married and had two kids. Is really in the end just one relationship and job a good fit… Is fate holding onto “the one” somewhere out there… and it’s just waiting for you to find them? Should our standards be just as high a picky with a job as with a man? Should we have a list of characteristics and requirements for a job that we are not willing to budge about? Or should we settle for what we can find right now? Should we expect a job to keep us just as blissfully happy and without complications? Is there a perfect job “soul” mate?


katy says:

Hi Liz,

Thanks for joining us on Recession Mama! I do believe it’s important to treat a job interview like a date. The interview is exactly the time for you to assess the job, the employer, and the work environment. Now, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to sharpen up those interviewing skills! I’m not trying to second guess you or try to yell at you. Let me just try to give you an example to your question: “So, when you have 5 or 6 equally qualified candidates… what puts one over the top of the others?”

Recently, my boss put out an ad to hire for the show I’m working on. We literally got hundreds of responses. But one resume had what we were looking for, and that girl’s cover letter and resume (along with 4 or 5 other potential candidates) came to me for the first round of interviews.

The 1st candidate’s cover letter stood out because it was clear, concise, and there were no spelling nor grammatical errors. Any time I see spelling or grammatical errors, I automatically dismiss a candidate.

After speaking to her, I was even more impressed. She sounded thoughtful, interesting, and interested in the job. It wasn’t just a job to her. She actually liked the subject matter and seemed genuinely enthusiastic about it. She also seemed honest, and of course, seemed like she could do the job.

When we brought her in for the interview, she showed up early. (Great sign!) She was dressed in a suit…which is generally a bit more serious than what most TV production interviews would call for. But it’s still better to err on the side of caution and dress more seriously than to dress more casually.

Three of us grilled her for a long time about everything. Afterwards, I talked to and e-mailed most of her former bosses, and my boss talked to some of her references. After getting ALL positive reviews, my boss hired her.

It’s tough out there these days. People want to know 1) you’re qualified to do the job, and if you’re a bit over-qualified, that’s good too. 2) you’re willing to work immediately and work hard since most jobs these days require you to put in longer hours for less money 3) you’re enthusiastic about the job because if you’re just coming in to just “get a job,” chances are there are 100 people lined up behind you who want it really badly or at least convinced those hiring that they do. 4) do you care about the details? Spell check. Have someone else look over your cover letter and resume, and please have stellar references.

yang says:

If you guys don’t have a linkedin account yet, I highly recommended it. I got my current job because the HR person simply cold-emailed me via linkedin.

katy says:

Wow! I do have a LinkedIn account, but I definitely have never been called or e-mailed out of the blue for a job. I get a lot of questions and discussions through LinkedIn though. Heather, Liz, Carla, do you have LinkedIn accounts?

Heather B. says:

I don’t have one of those accounts. But what a great suggestion. It sounds like a good source for people to get their names out there. Liz you should check that out.

Phyllis Smith says:

I just discovered this Blog. Carla…you go girl!! DItto, Ditto, Ditto on the financial posting. I feel like you were talking about me!! So glad to hear you’re filling in for “the competition”. They should be honored to have you!

My family too has suffered deeply from the recession. I might still have my job, for which I’m forever grateful, but my husband’s works is sooooo slow. He’s a freelance Video Editor and Cameraman. He worked for the NBC Network bureau for the last 25 yrs then they decided to size down the bureau and quit hiring freelancers. Thanks to other contacts, he immediately started working for some production houses doing corporate videos until they too scaled down.

He bought a camera (on credit cards) thinking that would make him more valuable. However 6 mths later he had to sell the camera, so we could have the cash to live on…never paying off the credit card like we intended to do once he began working the camera. He’s had some other production work since then and NBC has started calling him in to edit on an average of 1x a week, but we’re so in the hole I don’t think we’ll ever get out. The irony is he’s just now starting to be asked to hire his camera, which hurts even more. He was sick about having to sell it.

I think about leaving my job and finding something where I can make more money, but we all know this isn’t the time for that. I struggle with being content with the knowledge that I have my health and a wonderful family until I look at how my house is falling apart and I can’t do a damn thing about it!

Changes I’ve made…
I used to be a Whole Foods shopper, but now I mostly shop at Wal Mart. I had a lawn and a cleaning woman…but no more. The lawn has been transferred to my 14 yr old son and the cleaning is a family effort (although I do most of it of course). Like Carla, I grew up with a cleaning woman and a lawn guy and never had to worry about money. My Mom’s favorite past-time was taking me each Fall and Spring for a new wardrobe. They weren’t rich, but they knew how to handle money. My college was paid for as well as my wedding…all through savings my Mom had collected since I was a baby.

On the bright side…I do believe things happen to us for a reason. The best thing we can do is learn from our challenges. In this case, I learned that when we do things ourselves it empowers us to be stronger and more humble people. I still get tired of worrying about money, but man can I clean a house! And my 14 yr old son is now EARNING his allowance. My 16 yr old daughter…she gets to cut my hair and develop a skill she can always have as she gets older. She is a very talented artist, and I know she’ll be successful some day. But first she’ll have to “starve” for a while and having skills other than waiting tables will always come in handy.

My husband struggles with his own self-esteem. He’s in his early 60’s, so it’s tough if not impossible for him to find a full time job. God knows he has tried for jobs he’s more than qualified for, but he always seems to get over looked. This in spite of the fact that he’s the most talented, versatile and hard working person I know.

I am a certified Yoga Instructor as well, but not teaching a regular class at the moment. However I’m considering having a Yoga Workshop to help all those who have lost their job, and are working to stabilize themselves in this unstable time. I subbed for a Yoga teacher friend today, and I tried out a Yoga practice I developed to help build confidence and stability that seemed to go over well. If I were to do a workshop it would incorporate both Yoga and a Life Coach plus support group. If this interests any of you, please let me know, and I’ll book the room.

Kudos to Carla for doing this and allowing the rest of us to release some of those pent up feelings. Connecting to people and friends is part of what helps ground us.

katy says:

I loved that you shared your story with us! This is exactly why Carla, Heather and I started this blog! So we can all vent, share, and connect with others who are struggling. I would totally take your yoga/Life coach support group class. Where are you and your family located? And have your husband send me his resume. I know people who are always looking for good camera/editors. ~Katy

Carla says:


It can really be tough out there right now…it’s something I know first hand, believe me. I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but if you were here with me at the house right now and we were enjoying a cool Corona (with lime and salt, of course) out by the pool, here’s what I’d tell you: Sometimes things happen for a reason and conversely, sometimes things DON’T happen for a reason. It’s the age old adage: you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. If your searching along the same career lines and nothing is coming up right now, maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying “hey, it’s your time to follow your dreams, or at least figure out what they are..and go for it”.

I firmly do believe there is a job soul mate for everyone. Now that isn’t to say that everyone is working their dream job…but it’s possible…as long as we each give it our best shot to find it. I know you have to pay the bills in the meantime, we all do, so maybe you step out of your comfort zone just a bit and take that odd job that freaked you out a little bit. At least you’ve got some money coming in and that, in turn, takes the edge off of your emotions…which, in turn, frees your mind up to continue to think what it is you really want to do..what your heart really wants you to do.

It all really is easier said than done, no doubt about it.

Keep plugging along and keep your heart open to what may be out there.

And let’s have that beer…


Carla says:

“you’re searching”. Ugh, where is my damn editor, already?

Heather B. says:

Phyllis! Thanks for sharing your story. It seems so unfair that good, hardworking, honest people are struggling right now. Your husband is in such a difficult position. Too many companies leave out the experienced worker because they think they cost too much. It’s just wrong. Hang in there!!
I’m always down for yoga. I get cranky without it. It really helps me put everything into focus. I’d lOVE to take a class from you.

psmith says:

Thanks for all your lovely comments! Ok’s a done deal. I just need to pull all the elements together for the workshop, do some advertising and it’ll happen. can find details on my husband at He’s got demo reel, contact info, etc…Thanks for passing the word!

I’ll let you all know when/where the workshop will be.

Here’s to sharing…

psmith says:

Hey..check out this article from the Star-Telegram on how companies are using Linked-in to recruit employees. Gives tips as well.


psmith says:

ACtually that was a CBS 11-TV story..

psmith says:

NOpe…take that back…it was Star-Telegram. I was looking at another article when I corrected myself. DOH!!

recessionmama says:

Thanks for the info!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: