With unemployment rates soaring and job seekers in abundance, is it just me or have we all started this year a little on edge? As a career services professional, I have come across more manic, depressed, and generally angry people over the last several months than I have ever experienced. And I have to say that I am starting to get very concerned.
Don’t get me wrong. I love working with job seekers. That is why I do what I do! Each year, I have the privilege of serving about 600 people. And it is very rewarding to know that I can play a part in assisting someone in finding their next job, be it through creating a resume, setting a job search strategy, or working on retainer as they go through their job search ups and downs.
Like any job that deals with the public directly, however, you always come across a few candidates who, let’s just say, have much deeper issues than needing a new job. It’s one of the challenges of my line of work. But starting back in October 2008, right about when the big bank bailout bash came to a head, I started noticing a disturbing trend. Clients were facing more strain and anxiety than ever before.
And with the freedom that e-mail seems to bring to people, they started coming out of the gate, swinging, not just at me but at anything they could get their hands on.
To give you an idea of the kinds of things I’ve seen, here are the top 5 e-mails I’ve received. (Keep in mind that in each of these cases, these conversations took place before any service was delivered. We were in the “getting to know you” phase.):
• Job Seeker #1: He had a unique request for his resume:
“I’ll give you bonus points if you use the word ‘beguile’ in my resume because that’s what I do, deceive prospective clients into buying whatever [expletive] I’m asked to sell.”
At first, I thought he was joking, but no, he insisted that beguile be used in the resume.
• Job Seeker #2: He sent me a breakdown of his employment history:
“2006-2007: RECOVERING FROM SELF-INFLICTED GUNSHOT WOUND. God IS CRUEL – why didn’t he take me?”
Sadly, he too was not kidding.
• Job Seeker #3: This client decided that the upfront approach was the best way to start out our relationship together:
“Let me be clear. I’m only doing this because my wife thinks it can’t hurt. I’ve been out of work for 4 months. I just gave you the grocery money, so my kids are now starving. I bet you think that is pretty funny, huh?”
Let’s just say that I promptly returned this gentleman’s money.
• Job Seeker #4: Apparently, this client was looking for converts:
“This may not help my efforts with you but: May you come to know the love of Satan. Best regards, Joe”
• Job Seeker #5: In response to a question that I posed regarding his goals:
“I love nuclear weapons. Maybe I will get to see one go off someday.”
And just for good measure, here is one more: Job Seeker #6, another one who wanted to let me know the terms upfront:
“I placed a curse on my last resume writer. I told him that when something terribly bad happens to him, he should think of me.” Of course, as with any form of e-mail correspondence, you never know how seriously to take these things, but unless I am just experiencing some kind of Twilight Zone moment in which I just happened to enter into the realm of craziness, I suspect that these correspondences (and other milder ones I’ve received) are just a reflection of the general frustration that has swept many people, job seekers in particular.
As a resume writer and job search coach, I’ve been through unemployment highs before. And they are always difficult, to say the least, but one thing I know for sure: bitterness, extreme anxiety, paranoia, rage…bad characteristics to bring into a job search, even if you are just speaking with your resume writer.
You know, maybe now more than ever is the time for job seekers to come together, to put into action some of that spirit of unity that was so highly talked about on during Inauguration Day. After all, group job hunting has consistently been touted as one of the most effective ways for job seekers to find out about job opportunities and to build their network. So why not channel that frustration into something productive?