Thinking optimistically and realistically in your job search

Sondra Morin

Kai Ryssdal: All righty everybody, place your bets on the great American unemployment roulette wheel. By this time tomorrow, we'll know how many jobs the American economy added or, in the interest of defining the odds for you a little bit better, perhaps lost last month.

We can tell you now that the number added will be at least one. It belongs to 29-year-old Sondra Morin, who after being out of work for a year started a new job this Monday at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. We know that because we've been keeping up with her since September -- when we asked her what it was like not having a job.

Sondra Morin: One of the things that I have noticed is that when I do apply to jobs, often I'm applying to jobs that I am overqualified for, which may be one of the reasons I am not getting them. Another reason, I believe, is the fact that I have been unemployed for so long, so my resume reads the last time I had a job was September 2010.

Ryssdal: Sondra, good to talk to you.

Morin: Likewise, thank you.

Ryssdal: So, what's it like to hear that tape again?

Morin: It's kind of bittersweet.

Ryssdal: What was that point in your life like? I mean, you'd been out of work when you talked to us for almost a year, right?

Morin: Yeah, I was on a pretty intense job hunt at that point. I was submitting resumes out almost everyday. And sometimes I would take a break and breathe. But even those breaks would be... you know, you worry.

Ryssdal: That's a great line: Take a break and breathe, you know?

Morin: It's important.

Ryssdal: You had unemployment insurance, I imagine, during that time?

Morin: I did, yes.

Ryssdal: And how much more did you have left?

Morin: Until December.

Ryssdal: December as in next month, right?

Morin: Yeah, December 2011.

Ryssdal: And then what? What would have happened?

Morin: I was working a part-time job. So, you know, I was also looking at coffee shop jobs.

Ryssdal: Did you ever, when you got out of school, imagine you'd be 29 and looking for coffee shop jobs?

Morin: No, I think I imagined I would -- honestly -- be on a Ph.D. track.

Ryssdal: In what?

Morin: Literature. Writing.

Ryssdal: Tell me about your new job.

Morin: I started this Monday. My supervisor is amazing; my department is amazing.

Ryssdal: Which is great, right? It's very cool that you found a job you like -- let alone found a job.

Morin: Yes, and that was the pull for me. This position opened up and, you know, I was qualified for it. It was in an area -- tourism and leisure -- within that lies arts and culture, and that's right up my alley.

Ryssdal: Have you sat through the obligatory, you know, HR orientation stuff?

Morin: Yes, indeed.

Ryssdal: And it was probably great, right?

Morin: Yeah, I was like, "Oh, health insurance!"

Ryssdal: "Oh no! I have to go to orientation. Great!"

Ryssdal: Tell me about your peers and your friends. I imagine you were not the only one in your group looking for work.

Morin: No. Funny, a good friend of mine -- the same day that I was laid off at my last job -- I had sent him an email that day and said, "Oh my goodness. I just got laid off." And he replied "Me too." And we ran into each other once at the unemployment office and that was kind of eye-rolling and bizarre.

Ryssdal: Oh no, I bet. Now tell me about him. Does he have a job yet?

Morin: He does.

Morin: All right, so maybe I'm reading too much into the two stories you're telling me -- yours and his. Is there a sense of optimism perhaps?

Morin: I do think so. And I think the optimism lies, though, in thinking realistically. And not getting depressed in your, sort of, unemployment phase. And putting 110 percent effort in your resume and in your cover letters.

Ryssdal: This is sort of a necessarily a negative question: How did you not just pull the covers over your head every single day and stay in bed and sit in the couch?

Morin: Some days I did, especially in Chicago, February. And it definitely got easier after the first few months. It was kind of hard-hitting. But then after that, you have to lift yourself up out of that place.

Ryssdal: How did you do it?

Morin: I started volunteering for a few organizations in Chicago. I started investing a lot of time and energy in volunteering and helping out.

Ryssdal: And it lets you not just stay energized but, I imagine, you keep your people skills and your organizational skills up, right?

Morin: And you feel valued.

Ryssdal: Sondra Morin, we'd talk more, but she's got to go back to work.

Morin: I know!

Ryssdal: Sondra thanks a lot.

Morin: Thank you so much.

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