Depressed after Layoff

Dear Robin:

About two months ago, I was laid off from my job as a software engineer.  I was with the company for 8 years and had many good relationships that I now miss.  I haven’t had any luck landing another position yet, and I’m starting to get very discouraged.  

Adding to my worry is that I know I was recently beat out for a job because the other top candidate was a minority. Don’t ask me how I know that because I can’t tell you but it’s true.  I also heard that I was selected for the layoff in part because they were worried about the lack of diversity in my company so the white males got cut first.

My wife has a great career and we have plenty of money in savings so I’m not worried about money all that much. What I worry about is whether I will ever be able to find another job.  I sit at home most days surfing the internet looking for jobs a little bit but mostly just wasting time, I guess.  

I can’t seem to focus on networking or any of the things that I need to do to find another position.  As the days get shorter and the weather goes from nice to ugly my mood is worsening and sometimes I don’t leave the house for days. Also, I’m putting on weight. 

My wife says I should take anti-depressants but I’ve never needed them and I am not sure I want to start now.  Do you have any advice for me on what I can do to get out of this funk?

Unemployed in Oregon

Dear Unemployed in Oregon: 

I’ve written about this subject before and I was actually talking to a friend about it yesterday.  My dear man, you are suffering from LOPASAD: Loss of Position and Seasonal Affective Disorder.  

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Never fear, I have the solution you seek!

Before I wrap my strand of wisdom pearls around your neck, I want to address your concerns about how your race and penis play into your job hunt.  Different companies place different emphasis on minority and gender status when making employment decisions.  

You are a software engineer, which means there is a pretty good chance your past and future employers may be government contractors.  In that case, it is possible that your lack of melanin or a vagina may impact whether you get hired.

It’s possible.  Anything is possible.

On the other hand, stop whining. A diverse workplace is a good thing!

You are a white upper-middle-class male: the trifecta of Who Gives a Fuck?  Buck up and don’t worry about your race and gender.  You will find another job, and obsessing over the color of your competition and what’s between their legs isn’t going to do you any good and could actually hurt you.  

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I don’t think you are racist or sexist but if you convince yourself you aren’t getting jobs because minorities are taking them all, this could bleed into your subconscious and change your attitudes about race and gender.  This could then be reflected in how you act.  I can see you now in your next interview:

“This job sounds like a great opportunity and I really hope I move forward in the hiring process!  One thing, though: how many coloreds work here and are there any spics, homos or bitches competing against me for this job?”

Chill out and rest easy in the knowledge that your resume and experience will land you another position.  Being a white male has not historically been shown to be a major burden in this country.  Try being a Jewish lesbian bi-polar black woman in a wheelchair for five minutes.

You are depressed, but I’m not so sure you need medication.  Then again, I’m not giving you medical advice.  While that would be interesting and fun, I’m pretty sure it’s not a good idea and may pose challenges to my legal license, not to mention your health (as if I care – this is all about me, remember?).  What you need is a directive and a schedule.

I need to be brief today because I have lots to do, so I’ll do the AskDesCamp Advice By Numbers thing:

1. Your goal is to find another job, so get out there and start networking.  Sending your resume in response to a job posting is great, but you need to go the extra mile and start calling people you know, taking them to coffee, and seeing if they have any ideas on possible job leads.  

This is a good process because it gets you out of the house and into the world, which should help your depression unless you happen to live in Salem.  Trust me: nothing good can come of you sitting at home all day.

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Bottom line: you have a minimum of three networking appointments every week.  Set them up, talk to people and make shit happen.

2. Exercise, exercise, exercise.  Not because you are putting on weight, but because the endorphin boost you get from exercise will improve your mood.  In turn you will most likely have increased energy, which will have a positive impact on how you look for a job and what your attitude is when you land an interview.  

Also, since you have so much time on your hands, think about taking up a new sport or exercise routine to make things more interesting.  Pole dancing is very popular these days but somehow I don’t think that’s your thing.  Golf, maybe?

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3. Instead of surfing the internet when you are home, why don’t you look around and see if there are any projects that need tending to?  Surprise your wife by finally fixing that fence or painting the spare bedroom, and be as helpful as you can to her.  She’s the sugar mama now, and you best be keeping that woman happy.  

I have a rule that when I am unemployed, as happens more often than I’d like, I am the House Bitch.  All meals are prepared by me and I do most of the housework and shopping.  Tom won’t let me fold his laundry because apparently I don’t do the shirts correctly, but I pretty much take care of everything else.  

It’s the least I can do until writing puts dollars in the bank.  So put on your House Bitch hat and go clean something.  

4. Analyze your resume and see if you have any gaps you could fill with self-education during your respite from the grind.  A prospective employer will be impressed that you spent your time working on your skills rather than doing nothing.

In short, make a plan and make a schedule.  Your day should be mapped out in advance with things you have to accomplish or you will do what I did a few years ago: give up, give in and get in bed.  Don’t do that.

-Robin

 

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. echinachea

    Such excellent advice you give! At the same time the writing, choice of cartoonery, and offhand remarks are continually hysterical! Clearly you were born with a silver-tongued spoon in your mouth. I am jealous of your genes as well as your jeans. No fair!

  2. echinachea

    Dear Unemployed in Oregon: GE Healthcare (Tanasbourne area) is always looking for brainy software engineers, so you might want to check it out. They are pretty predominantly all-white-male out there, which is fine unless you are testosterone challenged. Seriously an interesting place to work, given all that is happening in the electronic medical field these days.

  3. Frances

    I understand that being unemployed is hard on your ego etc, but the fact that you have plenty of money and dont need to work makes it hard to be sympathetic. Do something to give back – volunteer for God’s sake. It will be more rewarding. Much more.

    1. askdescamp

      Frances, I am horrified that I didn’t even think of volunteer work. Thank you for that suggestion.
      -Robin

  4. Ali Whiting

    Dude-I’m down to 2 days per week, no degree, no money and alimony arrears accruing monthly. If anyone is going to have a pity party and take drugs, it’s me. Except I don’t have health insurance anymore so there goes the drugs. My advice to you-
    1) Use Apps!!! indeed.com put the app on your phone. You can’t get away from it. LinkedIn-Good for making those networking appointments (so you have to shower and dress daily!! Bonus!) and ladders.com which is a really good site for those with educations.
    2) MOST IMPORTANT – don’t buy peanut M&Ms. They don’t require any assembly and are too easy to eat cruising the net and the next thing you know the bag is gone. Again.
    3) Animal shelters always need help. Animals are therapeutic, loving and don’t talk back. (And you have another reason to shower and dress daily!)

  5. Pingback: A Word to Our Readers: It’s Not About You (It’s About Me, Remember?) | Ask DesCamp

  6. anonymous woman

    This is wrong: “You are a software engineer, which means there is a pretty good chance your past and future employers may be government contractors. In that case, it is possible that your lack of melanin or a vagina may impact whether you get hired.”
    Government contracting is a tiny percentage of the jobs for software engineers, unless you happen to be in a city such as Washington, DC. Every IT department I’ve ever seen has ranged from 95% to 100% white males, so if they are getting discriminated against, the discrimination is _very_ ineffective.

    Your advice on getting busy is good. I’ve been in this place, and it absolutely sucks, but a schedule including exercise and chores will help put your mind where it needs to be.

    One way to network is to go to free industry events. In Portland, there’s AgilePDX which puts on 3 free events every month, with interesting speakers and a chance to mingle. http://calagator.org/ lists tons of meetups for every imaginable language or IT discipline. Look for hackathons or other events where you can do development for free for nonprofits while meeting other people in the industry.

    You mention education to fill gaps in a resume–with the rise of MOOCs like Coursera, you can take genuinely college-level classes for free.

    1. askdescamp

      Thank you for your comment! I happen to know that he was employed by a major government contractor, but your point is well-taken, and your other suggestions are great as well. Glad to have you as a reader and commenter!

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