Always Darkest before the Dawn

Adventures in Unemployment

Always darkest before the dawn; making lemonade out of lemons; the French have the expression “un mal pour un bien” (a bad for a good).  Lately I have been making an effort to try to be positive, to see all sides of an issue, to not let negatively rule me. This blog, in part, chronicles my experiences focusing my thoughts to expect good outcomes to sometimes poor situations.  Along with my blog entries, I will be including my own photos that remind me of enjoyable or inspiring moments.

So here is one of my “mal pour en bien” stories:

I was released from my job in mid- July.  My position was eliminated due to a restructuring of the organization.

I would be given 2 week’s severance and paid for vacation time earned but not yet taken.

I had to sign a separation agreement.  Yadda Yadda Yadda.

Truth was, I was very anxious to sever my ties with the organization and the people in it, as I had decided that this reorganizationwas a sign that I should really move on and find a position and a company that valued 14 years of experience and what I had to offer.

I received the severance almost immediately.  The problem was that since there was money problems at the job, my vacation payment would be stretched out till October—I couldn’t get it all in one lump sum. So much for making a clean break of it.

So…on to navigating how to apply for Unemployment Insurance payments.

It actually was a pretty painless procedure.  I got on the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Website, downloaded the User Guide, created my log-in and password, and answered a few questions on line.

By August 1 I had received my first payment via direct deposit.  Each week, I log on to the site, answer the questions and within 2-3 days the payment is in my bank account.  So at least my worries about money coming in was somewhat alleviated, while I searched for the next perfect job.

But then, The Letter came.

I was 4 weeks into receiving my checks, when a letter fromUnemployment was delivered to my home, along with about a pound of forms I had to fill out, sign etc.  In short, I was required to attend a mandatory meeting at my local unemployment office, for a“Re-employment Services and Eligibility Assessment” –RESEA.  This meeting was scheduled within 2 weeks,and if I did not attend the meeting, my checks would be discontinued.  I spoke with friends of mine who had been or currently were receiving unemployment, and none of them ever had to go to this kind of a thing.  Turns out I was one of the lucky ones whose names were chosen at random for this.  I had to bring all kinds of ID, documentation of my previous salary, proof of household income, lists of every job I had applied for so far, first born child (OK, I just threw that in to see if you were still paying attention).

I was a little perturbed at being audited.  “It’s unfair,” I griped.  “Nobody else I know has to do this.  Woe is me!”  But, seeing that I wanted to continue to receive my checks, I decided that it was no use complaining about it, that I should just go and see what happens.

It was raining cats and dogs when I was putting coins in the meter on the street in front of the Unemployment Office the day of the meeting.  Figures.  But I pushed my negative thoughts aside and trudged into the building, into a tiny classroom, and met my fellow lucky-people-picked-at-random.  There were about 20 of us, all soaking wet and forlorn looking.

The RESEA representative entered the room, and began describing what we were expected to do. Submit lists of jobs to which we applied.  Make another appointment to meet with a counselor one on one to discuss our job hunting techniques.  Make a follow up appointment.  Attend at least one seminar offered at the Unemployment Office:  How to Create a Resume; How to Interview; How to Bake a Cake (no, not really, again–just threw that in).

We were there all morning, listening to these instructions,and from the sound of things, it was going to  take weeks to complete all the meetings and seminars.  And I was still expected to continue a robust job search.   Oh well, just another thing!

I made my one on one appointment with the counselor for a few days later.  During that meeting, I found out that I would be eligible to apply for up to $4,000 in tuition to take classes to update my skills. I didn’t know that!  And probably never would, had I not been chosen to undergo this Unemployment “audit”. Of course I signed up for this.  I had to take a 4 hour “employment readiness” test, and visit several approved schools to find the right courses. 

 I am now currently enrolled in a Project Management course and an on-line course in Social Media Marketing.  Both will be extremely useful in my job searches, and the best thing is—there is no out of pocket expense on my part! 

Un male pour un bien.  Things are working out for me. 

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