Saturday, July 03, 2010

Not Technically Unemployed

I'm not technically unemployed... I just have no work. There's a difference...

This is a blog post I've thought about writing for a couple of weeks, as so many of my friends are going through extended periods of unemployment, under-employment, or "being made redundant." Isn't that a great term? Being told that you're now "redundant." Great way to add insult to injury, don't you think?

On the one hand, I like to [try to] keep a positive public face about my current situation, be optimistic about future opportunities, and not look like I'm seeking sympathy, but in the end, I've decided it's more important to let my "redundant" friends know that they're not alone.

So, no, technically I'm not unemployed, as I'm a self-employed consultant ... I just haven't had anyone to consult to since April 1, and my only income for the last three months has been $22.82 in book royalties. Being self-employed means that when the work dries up, there's no unemployment benefits or severance packages, just the search for the next gig.

Part of being independent is that there's ups and downs. The last several long-term gigs have come one on top of the other, even over-lapping major assignments. A "high quality problem," as Tom G. would say. But since April 1, there's been a disconcerting silence from my usual sources of leads, and very little I've been able to dig out on my own.

I've been searching for irons and fires and trying to put them together, but I can see I may have a significant bit of down-time before the next long-term assignment. In six and-a-half years of being in business for myself, this is the most difficult time I've had. Of course, considering the economy, I suppose three months of downtime after a 6-1/2 year stretch isn't all that bad.

That said, overall, I again count my blessings and say "high quality problem," but that doesn't make it any easier. Especially when it's summer, and my wife (a teacher) is also without paycheck for a couple of months, and we've got contractors bidding on re-doing our bathroom and other repair work.

So, I keep in touch with colleagues and let them know I'm available, I read the job listings to see if there's anything to tempt away from my independent practice back into "a real job," and I've started another book project of some nonprofit case studies from my last several long-term consulting gigs.

All-in-all, I've been keeping myself busy, and I plan on enjoying the summer, even if I have to do it on a lower budget than I might prefer.

So, for those of you who are redundant, I share your pain. Even though we all know "it's the economy, stupid," it's hard not to take some of it as a personal failing in moments of weakness. But we just have to push past that, keep ourselves occupied, and look for that next great opportunity. It's out there somewhere. It has to be.

8 comments:

  1. The economy´s situation isn´t your fault. Okay I know, that sentence doesn´t help at all.

    Btw, I just ordered your book! Oh no, another useless sentence, because now you think I ordered it because of compassion. Actually I ordered it because I´m very interested in it.

    To make the trilogy of useless sentences complete: Make money by making obscene roadtrip footage public!

    Good lord...so much nonsense in one comment. Forgive me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The economy´s situation isn´t your fault. Okay I know, that sentence doesn´t help at all.

    Btw, I just ordered your book! Oh no, another useless sentence, because now you think I ordered it because of compassion. Actually I ordered it because I´m very interested in it.

    To make the trilogy of useless sentences complete: Make money by making obscene roadtrip footage public!

    Good lord...so much nonsense in one comment. Forgive me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That term "redundant" is one i've thought about quite a lot recently myself. It's such an unfair word, in this context anyway. I'd like to think that none of us are ever redundant.
    I guess one of the "dangers" of being self employed are those periods when there is a lack of work. That must bring it's own amount of stress.
    Thanks for showing us another side to this issue. Here's hoping it picks up for all of us shortly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, sir, I can now see we are compatriots. Part of my situation was voluntary - I very recently left a start up company with which I was working for several years on a part time basis. Paychecks became indefinitely delayed, and those issues of leadership you just shared with me recently came clearly into play. In my case, I've used my newly free time to plunge myself into some exciting new areas that now seem like a natural progression from where I've been. The finances aren't there yet, but I'm feeling more optimistic then I've been in a long time...

    ReplyDelete
  5. hi ken,

    have you looked into parttime teaching? it's what has allowed me to remain 'freelance' all these years--never pays well, no benefits, and you don't know from term to term what's happening, since even if you have classes scheduled, they may or may not fill. miraculously, i've been getting classes all thru this economic mess, and susan love continues to revise the Breast Book every 5 years, so i've been doing better than a lot of people. not exactly prospering, but paying the bills... i don't know how it would be to start teaching now, but you might want to look into it.

    anyway, good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I trust you will do a lot of drinking during the hiatus. It is always a great comfort to me in tough times.

    I raise a glass, actually a plastic cup with iced green tea, to your future. May you live long and prosper.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You can't be technically unemployed, I've learned, if you can't collect unemployment (as in both our cases). I feel better after reading your blog, knowing that even if I had that blasted Master's degree I might still be in the same blog writing, lead scraping boat.

    Love you man.

    ReplyDelete

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