When we planned to move down to the Seattle area, HusbandX and I thought about our future job situation a lot. Would I work or would I stay home with the Munchkin? What kinds of jobs would HusbandX be applying for?
But the one thing we really didn't expect was just how long it was going to take to find even one job. Perhaps we were being naive or idealistic, but we sort of assumed that at least one of us would be employed within about three months. After all, the tech sector is booming! They need more programmers! (The first sentence in the article is actually, "As any tech company can tell you, there's a major shortage of engineers in the U.S., particularly computer programmers.") And we were told over and over, "Yep, this is the place to be if you've got a degree in computer science." (That would be HusbandX, not me.) Well, we're not seeing any evidence of these promising statements yet.
Over the summer, HusbandX applied for so. many. jobs. Well over 100, and heard back from maybe 1% of those jobs. Mostly rejections. He had precisely one interview, with a government agency, and he came back from the interview saying, "Even if they offer me a job, I don't want it." He had some good reasons for saying so, so I agreed with him. Don't worry, though, they didn't offer it to him! Apparently they felt the same way he did. ("Even if he wants the job, I don't think he'd fit in here.")
Now, however, we're entering our fifth month without employment. Our expenses are small, thanks to the fact that we're staying with family, and our savings were fairly high due to our own natural prudence and then in anticipation of our move, but we do still have expenses. And the stress levels of living here are going up. It's hard not to have your own space, especially for people as independent as we are.
We've kept ourselves plenty busy over the summer, so much so that we've occasionally joked that we don't know how we'd fit jobs into our busy lifestyle. But really, we're trying to mask the pall that unemployment has cast over us. You see, the worst part of unemployment is simply the fact that it affects everything else. We can't make long-term plans because we don't know what our situation will be like in the next month, let alone two or three months or next year.
We have so many goals that we want to accomplish, but every single one of them is on hold until we have jobs. We can't look for a home of our own because, even if we had enough savings for one (we don't, yet) who would give a mortgage to two unemployed people? We want to pay off HusbandX's student loans from his first degree, and we are paying more than the minimum payment every month even through this period of unemployment, but it would still take us roughly five years at this rate to pay it all off. I want to knock it out in a year or less if possible, so that we don't have it hanging over our heads any more. Plus, paying it off earlier would mean paying less overall since we wouldn't have to pay as much interest. I'm all for that. (And every time I think about the fact that we don't have credit card debt in addition to those student loans, I thank our parents for showing us money management when we were younger. Those student loans are the only debt we've ever had, so we pay our credit cards every month and we paid cash for our car.)
We have other goals, of course, but those are the two biggest for now.
I am a planner. It's driving me crazy that I can't plan for our current situation. Will we be unemployed for another five months, or will we (as I've been told can happen) suddenly both be employed within a couple of weeks of each other, and soon? We have vague plans, such as what to do with the money once we have some coming in (if I get a job, after our living expenses, half of my net pay will go to paying off those student loans and the other half will bulk our savings for a house) but the when is still driving me crazy. If it seems like I'm an uber-fit exercise maniac, it's really just because it helps me deal with stress and get out of the house. Even so, HusbandX and I have started to get small physical manifestations of our stress. (If you see a zit on my chin, I've been freaking out about something.)
Things are starting to look up. I don't want to jinx it, but I did have one interview yesterday that I'm incredibly excited about. HusbandX is starting to hear back from people a bit more, including some programming proficiency tests that he's taken, but just getting to this point has been nerve-wracking and tiresome because of the long wait. It's irritating to know that your whole life is on hold waiting for one opportunity, and the people who provide that opportunity really don't care about your life at all. You're just one more person who might or might not be what they need, and if you're not then it's not even worth their time to write back and say, "No thanks."
All we can do now is continue working toward employment, and we have wonderful friends who've been giving us tips and sending us job openings they hear about. It's been immeasurably helpful, as has the support from friends and former coworkers back in Fairbanks. I know how lucky we are to have so many people looking out for us, and I know that realistically, four months is not a terribly long time to be unemployed. From friends' former job searches I know that six months or more is not even that long. But it's hard to wait.
On top of the job search, we're trying to set things in place so that when we do have jobs, we're not scrambling to fit them in. From a plan about childcare to possible commuting ideas to things as simple as making sure we have plans for easy lunches every day that we can grab on the way out the door, we're trying to ensure that when we do have jobs we can get to work on our family's goals immediately.
For now however, we just have to keep waiting. And waiting.