Susan Hildebrand, looking for work for two years, has landed on a different kind of idea:
It’s the last of her 401(K) money, but it’s money she is willing to spend. She’d be willing to spend it on a recruiter, she says; this just cuts out the middleman.
She’s also willing to work for free for two weeks, if an employer wanted to try her out.
Hildebrand is an skilled bookkeeper and office manager with human resources experience, as well.
Two years ago, the economic downturn wiped out the real-estate-related job she had for three years. Her unemployment benefits have run out, and while her husband is working, the stress is taking a toll on him, Hildebrand says.
Their two adult children have moved out, and live elsewhere in Connecticut. The Hildebrands own their home, with a mortgage.
“It’s always been important to me to earn a living,” she says, “and help my husband with the income.”
WHILE HILDEBRAND HAS BEEN UNEMPLOYED, she’s sent out hundreds of resumes. She has had some interviews, but mostly, potential employers haven’t even acknowledged receipt of her resume.
A skilled writer with a degree in English from Eastern Connecticut State University, she has had some work freelancing. She has made and sold jewelry, signed up with temporary bookkeeping agencies, and opened an Etsy store. Nothing has taken hold.
She and her husband have cut back on groceries, switched from brand-name items to store brands, cut back on clothes and all sorts of shopping, but now, she says, “I think our bills are going to start sliding.”
HILDEBRAND HAS A STRONG WORK HISTORY, and recommendations from employers. She has a certificate in human resouces, a college degree, and solid experience.
But she is clearly not in her 20s, and she thinks it is possible that her age – and her experience – could be working against her.
She was earning a salary in the mid-40,000s, with benefits, and she believes employers look at her and think she would be too expensive. She says she would accept a job that paid less – but within reason.
And she would be happy to commute, as well – again, within a reasonable distance.
“My standards haven’t come down yet,” she says. “I’m not that desperate yet.”
Still, she says, the two-year job hunt has been depressing.
The idea of offering money to an employer has cheered her up, as has the splash of attention the notion has received.
“People have been wishing me well,” she says.
She has been volunteering at Covenant Shelter in New London, she says, and that has cheered her, too. “Just being around people who need you helps,” she says.
THE STRETCH OF UNEMPLOYMENT has taught her a few things, Hildebrand says.
“I learned it’s harder to get a job than you think,” she says, adding that while this seems obvious, the reality of the statement runs deep.
She has learned that she likes the satisfaction of helping people. She’d love to work for an employment agency, helping other people get jobs. She’s been inside, she says, and she knows what they’re feeling.
She has learned that her best quality, in addition to her skills, is “being interested in a lot of things.”
She writes that “I think I've learned not to take anything for granted, and to be more patient. I have more of an appreciation for the positive things in my life. So, perhaps this has been a good lesson for me.”
And she has learned that “I am fearful of things, more than I used to be.”
“I’ve lost a little self-confidence,” she says.
“But being less sure of yourself can be a good thing. A little bit of humility can help.”