The other day I filled out a job application through a computerized system, and one of the questions I had to answer to move forward was: “Are you currently employed?”
I answered yes, but I also clarified that I had part-time work and I was hoping to transition to full-time work. I also said I could start immediately.
I have heard that many employers “discriminate” against unemployed workers. I use quotation marks because there is a legal distinction that is important, I should probably say “prefer the employed” or “tend to disinclude the unemployed.”
There is a stigma that comes with being unemployed. I used to freak out and want to quit, and then slow my breath and think, “well, at least I have a job.” Now that I don’t have a job-job, I am forced to prove on a daily basis that I am a smart, capable employee with potential, not just a temp who doesn’t know how to use a copy machine (I just don’t know how to use your copy machine). I am seen as suspect, and my version of my “was told that my position could no longer be funded, so I took a new job then quit because it was horrible” is not taken at face value. If I was so good at working, wouldn’t I be working?
My dad always said that it was easier to get a job when you have a job–the networking, the skills-building, the routine of working everyday are all in your favor. I am considering adding a freelance consultant line item to my resume, in order to capture all the volunteer work I have done over the last 3 years as a producer, grant-writer and generally awesome advice-giver to young theater companies and artists. Will this make me seem less unemployed? I don’t know. I doubt it.