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True stories: People who found jobs after lengthy unemployment

Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

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Is there a light at the end of the job-seeking tunnel? You bet! Meet four people who persevered in their searches and can now put the word "formerly" before "unemployed."

From the graduation stage to the unemployment line

"It was difficult keeping my morale up because I felt like a failure," says Lauren Miller of San Diego, Calif., who was hired right out of college in 2009 -- only to be laid off months later due to budget cuts. "I'd spent five years getting two bachelor's degrees, and now I was supposed to work and take the world by storm. At least that is what everyone promised along the way, right?"

Faced with student loans, car payments, rent and bills, Miller worked many temp and part-time jobs, often putting in 50-hour weeks to "just get by." She turned to "a million sources" -- from friends and old contacts to online career sites and job boards all over San Diego -- before landing full-time work in December 2010 as an account coordinator at a public relations firm.

Recalling her time trying to make ends meet while searching for a steady position, Miller notes, "You have to always remember that there is no such thing as a job that is beneath you. No matter what, it's money, and if you have responsibilities, then you need to do whatever it takes to survive. And that's what I did."

Doing everything you can -- and letting others help

Jim Kuehm of Palatine, Ill., was unemployed for 18 months after recessionary conditions led his company to reorganize. "I applied for every position I felt could be at least a 50 percent match to my skill set and experience," he says, noting that some days he had up to 50 job-lead e-mails to sift through. In the end, though, he was contacted by a recruiter who had seen his résumé posted online. Kuehm returned to being a master planner, doing the same type of work he did before the layoff.

Kuehm credits the support he received from the Saint Hubert Jobs and Networking Ministry with helping him through the trials of unemployment. "Get into an accountability group right away," Kuehm advises. "People are there, able and willing, to help you get through this tough time in your life. If I was being nonproductive in meeting my weekly goals, people would inquire about circumstances in my personal life that may have contributed to the slowdown of my job-search work, and they would reinforce using tools that I needed to get moving again and stay on track."

Moving more than 200 miles for a job, then losing it

While hearing that you're losing your job is always difficult, Tiffany Matthews faced an exceptional whammy. "I moved from Buffalo, N.Y., to Philadelphia, Pa., for a job that ended up lasting 84 days." Her solution: Really turning up the heat and pounding the pavement, including applying for things she felt were below her educational background.

Despite her efforts, it was two years before she landed her current position as a social worker in a nursing home. During that time, Matthews says she tried different things and really learned a lot about herself, which helped keep her morale up. Her advice to others still hunting for a job is to stay on top of your unemployment claim. "You will call there three times and get three different answers to one question. Keep your claim right and it will give you the reassurance to do what you have to do when looking for a job."

Part time can lead to full time

Hoang Uyen X. Nguyen of Minnesota found herself with the opposite of the situation Matthews faced. She had a job, but her company went through a restructuring and planned to move her department out of state, meaning she had to move or lose her job. She chose the latter.

Using past experiences and connections, Nguyen found a part-time job in the television industry. Seven months later, she became full time. She urges other job seekers to likewise use all of their resources to get a foot in the door. "Also, stay positive and keep hope alive," Nguyen says. "Even when it may seem like forever, you will get the job, and when you do, it'll be awesome!"

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.


Last Updated: 08/02/2011 - 12:20 PM

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