When I moved from Atlanta to Modesto in September 2010, I thought I was ready to look for work. What I didn't expect was just how long it would take.
I graduated from Georgia State University in December 2008. I was forced to postpone my job search because of my mother's Army deployment, followed by my family's pending move. I began my job search once we settled into our new home.
What a time to start looking for work.
There's little job security in this economy. Businesses and services have cut budgets by cutting workers. Many more businesses have either relocated or shut down completely. Consequently, unemployment has been constantly high. Stanislaus County's unemployment rate of 15 percent is one of the highest in the nation.
It's been hard for people like me to enter the work force. Despite these hard times, I have looked for any job that would suit me. I would have accepted a minimum-wage job if it meant I earned something. But for the most part, my applications never got a response.
In October 2010, I applied to work at the Borders Books on Sisk Road. I had plenty of experience shopping at the store. I thought that my experience would benefit other customers. A few months later, the store shut down and 25 people lost their jobs.
In March 2011, I applied to work at a nonprofit store in Modesto. I was rejected outright because I had no experience working with them. I never even got to complete the application.
In July 2012, I applied to work at a dog kennel for the second time. I had the benefit of more experience with animals. They had also just advertised for multiple positions in The Bee. I thought my chances of being considered were pretty good.
After a few weeks, I hadn't heard from them. I visited in person to follow up on my application. I was told that all positions were full. I left, never to return.
A long, unsuccessful job hunt is discouraging. For many qualified job-seekers, it's more than discouraging. It's futile. They have responded by giving up looking for work.
According to a May 4 article in the Huffington Post, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent primarily because 342,000 people left the labor force.
I considered quitting my job hunt a few times, but never did. Instead, I found ways to build up my résumé. My volunteer work at the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency shelter allowed me to gain experience in a work environment. I also took courses in pet care at Modesto Junior College and received a certification in dog CPR.
My efforts haven't gone unrewarded. A few employers have actually responded to my applications. Even though they have not hired me, even a response was encouraging.
Though I don't have a job, I am still working. I am working every day to build my skill set. Every accomplishment, even the minor ones, has given me self-satisfaction. As long as I never lose that self-satisfaction, I will never stop looking for a job.
When businesses start hiring regularly again, the dreams of many job-seekers will be made easier. Until then, job-seekers must do all they can to gain experience.
Jobs are rare, but they aren't nonexistent. If more job-seekers embrace that concept, we can see the unemployment rate shrink for real.
Boyer, a Modesto resident, writes columns for The Bee on a freelance basis. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Craig R. Boyer