It’s Your Fault That You’re Still Unemployed

There, I said it. It’s what everyone else is thinking but are too afraid to actually say to you.  You’re my friend, and I love  you, but really, it’s your own fault that you’re still unemployed.

That’s what I’ve wanted to say to my friend that has been out of work for over  2 years.  She was laid off from her job at a top 5 investment bank after working there for 8 years.  Prior to being laid off she has been unhappy, – no, no, she was miserable – with her job and had actually been contemplating quitting to start a new career.  Recognizing the signs that they were probably about to start laying people off (I had been part of a layoff wave at the same company years before), I told her to stick it out until they were laying people off and if she was not part of the layoffs, asked to be packaged out.  That way she would receive a decent package (usually months worth of salary) and some other job finding assistance.  My advice was that until then she should brush off and update her resume, line up prospective people to be her references, figure out what she wanted to do, and generally get her ducks in a row.

Lo and behold, she was a part of the individuals that were laid off.  Somehow she was surprised.  I don’t know why, but I wasn’t and was she was sad.  Now, please understand my frustration because I was treated to her daily complaint for months before what I believed was a blessed occurrence.  The severance package was very generous.  She received 8 months’ salary and would be on the company’s paid health insurance plan for another 6 months.  After that she could purchase COBRA.  They also fully vested her in the 401K program which was worth tens of thousands of dollars.  They would also pay for her to complete any certificate program of her choosing and they lined her up with a job placement company whose services they had paid for.  All-in-all, I thought that it was great.

My advice to her was to hit the ground running.  This whole financial crash thing was starting so I told her to start looking for a job, and if she could take a few night classes to supplement her education (Associates degree which isn’t enough) then she should.  What did she do?  She decided that she needed “some time off”.  I didn’t think that it was the smartest thing to do, but by time off I assumed she meant a week.  I would have said two weeks at the maximum.  Two weeks turned into something like 6 months.  That’s right, it was six months of vacations, sitting on her ass, talking on the phone, shopping and doing nothing but being self-indulged.  At about the 6 monthIt's Your Fault That You're Still Unemployed mark she received the notification that she would have to pay for her own health insurance.  That is what made her realize that she had been sitting around for 6 months doing not a damned thing.

At that point, she decided that what she needed was to change her career. Perfect, I thought.  The company will pay for her to take course leading to a certificate, but the course had to end within 1.5 years.  Great!  She wanted to go into the health care industry and there were plenty of either certificate or degree programs that could be completed within that time if she went full time.  What I was treated to was a long tirade about how “impossible” it was to complete 2 years of school within 1.5 years.  I pointed out that I completed grad school in that much time AND I was working full-time at the same time.  I also pointed out that she didn’t need to take summers or winter breaks off and that would allow her to finish in the allotted time.  She thought that I was nuts.  Instead she enrolled in a slow and steady wins the race program part-time, night program with the luxury of summers off. Great, ’cause you know, that whole not having or looking for a job thing is really hard to do when you have school.

Fast forward to more than 2 full years after she has been laid off.  She is now on unemployment which is in the extension period signed by President Obama.  She is still working on a certificate and she in miserable.  I get phone calls from her daily that there are “no jobs” to be had and the jobs that are available are beneath her because of either 1)the low starting salary or 2) the hours or 3) what they want her to do.  I’ve reminded her that as a career changer she will start at the bottom.  I’ve told her that instead of changing careers (since that is making her so unhappy) perhaps she should go back to the banking industry where – believe it or not – there are now job opening since I get daily alerts about openings.  I’ve offered to sign her up to the mailing list and she has declined.  She’s gone on a few interviews, but I am sure that her attitude about the work being beneath her is clearly evident on the interviews.  In short, she now feels like -her words, not mine – a bum, and I can’t disagree.

You know why I don’t disagree? Because it’s your own damn fault that you’re unemployed you idiot. Now stop calling me.

Did this post make you think?  Read the follow-up post, What’s Keeping You From Finding A Job.

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43 thoughts on “It’s Your Fault That You’re Still Unemployed

  • I read the whole post, no.. DEVOURED it.

    You hit it right on the head for your friend. It really is her fault, but some people are just clueless, ignorant or just whiny in nature, because they’re too used to what they used to have.

    I agree that the signs were there, the changes were not the best for her personality.. and she wasn’t realistic!!!

    Changing industries means you start at the bottom and you have to pay the piper so to speak.

    • You’re in the city. I’m sure you might have heard a story or two like this and you kind of have to sit there and have a false face of sympathy on for them but you’re really thinking…come on!

  • This story was so interesting, I couldn’t wait to get to the end. I suspect this friend is a glass half empty person, and you know what that means….. Nothing is ever “good enough.” This one’s going in my round up!

    • Thanks Barbara! I’m sure there will be a part two to this story. I think that I was just ready to POP today. I couldn’t take it anymore. Of course she thinks that I’m mean but she knows that I’m brutally honest when no one else will be.

    • You would think so, right? Nope. She didn’t even put in enough to meet the full match for the year. They gave 50 cents on the dollar. Can you image guaranteed 50% returns?!!! Even if I were lazy and had the money in a bond fund I’d still be doing well.

  • I know someone like this. She has an excuse for not being able to do every job out there. It is everyone elses fault as to why she can’t work, move out of her relatives home, go back to school etc… She doesn’t have any savings or education to fall back on, and leads a very sad life as a result. Here’s hoping your former co-worker reads your post and changes her attitude.

  • This post took guts. I loved every word of it, and I agree with you 100%.

    I only have one question: does your friend read your blog? If she does, are you still friends? I hope she’s smart enough to realize that you have her best interests in mind and that you are just tired of hearing her complain about a situation she can fix if she tries hard enough.

  • She’s lucky she’s gotten the unemployment for so long, but now with a 2 year break, her resume is going to suffer. She’ll have to settle a certain amount, but giving up is definitely not the solution!

  • I have one 4-letter word for her: L-A-Z-Y! If I were you, I think I’d have to start forwarding her calls to McDonald’s. Maybe she’ll get the picture that you just can’t listen to her self pity anymore!

  • I got laid off from my $65k a year job and it was 14 months before I landed another professional gig. Halfway through that I swallowed my pride and went to work delivering pizzas. Gotta pay the bills, man.

  • There is NOTHING that irritates me more than people who bitch and moan about their situation and do ZERO to fix it.

    It Kills me! Especially when you handed her the answers pre-unemployment

  • I used to think the same as all the commenters, until I was laid off. Its been almost a year and I still don’t have a full time position. Anyone who has a job is on a high horse and calling people lazy is just rude. Yes, there are people happily collecting unemployment and living it up. But that’s not the majority.

    I have a Master’s degree in engineering and can’t get a job. I’ve applied to hundreds over 10 months and 90% of the time they don’t even acknowledge that they’ve processed your resume (let alone have a PERSON read it). Its not as easy as you think to get back on your feet. Maybe you can help by not spitting out criticism. Most of the people that are unemployed already feel awful enough already about themselves and where they are in life. They don’t random people making them feel worse.

    In a small way, you’re part of the problem or at least making it worse. Even recruiters are beginning to view unemployed as lazy, incompetent people. I’ve seen more and more job descriptions specifically stating as a requirement “Must currently be in a full time position.” How are you supposed to get a job, if the job openings aren’t for unemployed?

    • Hi Angie,

      I think what you are missing is that we are talking about THIS particular situation. In THIS situation my friend had advanced warning that the company would be laying people off and wanted to leave months ahead of her actual lay off. When she was laid off she did not even revise her resume or begin thinking about looking for a job until at least a full 6 months later. In THIS situation I think that my response was called for.

      Now, with that said, I will be the first to acknowledge that finding a job in this climate is extremely difficult. I live in the epicenter of financial chaos with the “official” unemployment in this city around 10% but in actuality it is much, much higher and tripled if you are a minority. In my own family I am currently the only one with a job, so believe me, I know.

      What I am saying is that sometimes we block our own progress and blame external forces, but everyone’s situation is different. Good luck with your job search.

  • Wow – with friends like you, who needs enemies?

    I hope that all those times you told your “friend” what to do, it’s because she asked you for advice. If not, then my above comment goes double. A steady stream of “ur doin it rong” and “I told you so” is not an act of friendship.

    • Please re-read. She either always called to cry on my shoulder or ask for advice. The two of us have a brutally honest relationship with each other and she counts on me to tell her things that no one else would tell her because they would feel constraints to be very polite, and I count on her to do the same for me. Everyone needs at least ONE friend that will tell that what they NEED to hear and not what they WANT to hear.

  • I knew I wasn’t the only one with a friend like this! Except my friend has a three year old daughter at home! Well, now it’s her mother’s home because she couldn’t afford to pay rent on her own place anymore now that her unemployment is about to run out. The only downer with that though is that her mother lives in a small town and jobs are hard to come by. But, if she wasn’t looking for a job before or wouldn’t take anything “beneath” her, then I guess it doesn’t matter that she isn’t going to find much there!

  • Yes, in THIS case it does sound like it’s your friend’s fault she doesn’t have a job. But it’s YOUR fault that she has driven you crazy by complaining to you about it for 2 years. At some point don’t you realize all your advice is falling on deaf ears, recognize your value system is very different and end the friendship, or at least end the conversation?

    • I’m a softy and I love her! She’s really a nice person and I did sit her down last week because I thought that she was depressed and really talked to her about the whole situation. I should do an update because she has jsut accepted a job offer.

  • I totally relate. My son has been like this for over a year. I was helping him by paying rent with the money I was supposed to use to get my debt down. He has an excuse for every job I tell him about, doesn’t want to go to school, and has such a sour attitude. I told him yesterday not to call me. It’s his problem and I’m not going to his pity party anymore. He’s sulking and mad, but I’ve had it. He’s becoming an emotional vampire. Good for you for standing up for yourself!

    • Gladysg,

      I’m sure that you’re a loving and caring parent, and part of that job is knowing when to be stern and stop being an enabler. Good for you as well! Please check out my follow-up to this post What’s Keeping You From Finding A Job at

  • As someone who is unemployed and has seen friends and family get laid off over the past few years I have to agree with you 100%.

    One person I know has struggled to find work for over a year, and she is still plugging along, trying to find a good (enough) opportunity. Multiple times she’s been close to getting a job which would pay her less than her previous ones, and if she had landed them she would’ve taken it. Right attitude, just can’t land a position.

    Me? I started two side businesses within two months of being let go, and it may not be long before I start making nearly what I used to just doing my side gigs for other companies. If I land a good job, fantastic, and if I don’t I may never need one.

    Your friend blew a huge chance and now she’s paying for it. And you know what? People need honest feedback from a trusted source. Good for you.

    • You’re creating your own destiny. This might be a blessing in disguise for you since you don’t have to depend on someone else for your income. My brother did that after 9/11 when his building was destroyed and never looked back.

  • I’m a bit torn on this one. In any event, VERY HELPFUL article. Like the subject of the article, I’ve been unemployed two years. TWO YEARS! It’s embarrassing. Alot of informational interviews, which tend to lead to more of the same. There definitely are jobs out there, but I’ve found the skills required are very specific (I’ve got 8 years in Management Consulting, plus an MBA). Makes sense, if you’ve got an abundant labor market, you can be picky.

    I would just caution many of the posters that for every lazy unemployed person, there are roughly 9 others who just can’t seem to land something. Could that be their interviewing technique? Sure. But I’d hazard a guess that much of the problem has to do with employers looking with suspicion on the long term unemployed.

    What to do?

    My solution is to keep on interviewing and try to be hopeful. I would ask that all that read this try to find some sympathy for those in these circumstances. I was a good performer who got caught up in some bad timing, as were so many others. I do find it helpful to see how those in a position to help view those in my position. While that is saddening, it’s important if I’m going to overcome this kind of perception. Is it right? No. But it’s reality.

    Thank you for posting your views on this.


  • When I first read the title, I got irritated because I thought you were talking about everyone in general, and took it to heart. Then I read the post. Yes, it’s your friend’s fault. I got laid off right when I was eligible to receive health benefits, so of course I didn’t get any, and also didn’t get to start a 401(k). I got 1 month’s severance, which had to be designated for moving expenses. I wish my former job would’ve paid for a certificate; I definitely would’ve went for it! It’s been 6 months and I’ve applied for literally hundreds of jobs. For your friend to have the audacity to sit around for 6 months and not do anything is ridiculous and an insult to people who ARE trying. I wish I had half of her resources. Hopefully she got her act together. Otherwise, you may need to block her number.

    • Ha! Many people did take this to heart thinking that I was referring to THEM, but no, believe me, I know that it’s hard. This is a report of an article from the end of last year. I plan on reporting two older articles every month. Anyway she did finally find a job in the healthcare industry because she changed industries. She’s not happy because she’s paid so much less, but she IS a career changer so she should have expected it.

      Good luck on your search! I know that it’s hard out there.

  • I find that people who didn’t really have to work too hard to find a job tend to completely shut down when they find that it is “difficult” to find work and do not like their options.

  • Well that’s good she at least finally managed to get a job and is trying a new path in healthcare. I can already tell you have more patience than me – if she was my friend I would have blocked her number way sooner than 2 years with the way she was acting! 🙂

    Not liking one’s job and wanting to switch careers is ok and quite common, but the fact that she thew away the benefits and opportunities that her company gave her so she could get her life in order AND complained about everything is so not okay. I don’t stay friends with people who are constant complainers for very long. Life’s too short to have to endure their misery! -Sydney

  • Yeah, unfortunately this is true in a lot of cases….I know several people in the same boat that are only missing one thing….ambition. If only we could give that out to people instead of advice :).

  • Glad to hear your friend accepted a position! It’s rough to be unemployed — I bet it was especially rough after pouring herself into her previous work (a job she hated, no less) for years. In any case, congrats to her on her new employment!

  • I’ve had two close friends that got laid off two years ago. They both were sad and upset but realized they had to keep looking. Looking/creating the next job became their job. One would get really discouraged which I figured was not great for when he went into a job interview. I’d meet with him before interviews and boost his ego! Both just found jobs (within the same week) but it took years.
    Some of it is opportunity but I also believe it’s coupled with attitude. I’m in the construction industry and ever few years I come really close to getting laid off. I’ve learned to be on constant look out for the next opportunity. In the last 7 years I’ve avoided getting laid off but moved companies 3 times!

  • This was a great read! What an amazing severance package – I would have gobbled up all of those opportunities immediately, and invested as much as possible. I understand that being laid off can be a pretty big blow to anyone’s self esteem, but not so much that it takes years to recover. Not to mention, she was in good company. I think a lot of people with the “I’m too good for this job” attitude ruin their chances. While she may have started at the bottom two years ago, she could have started climbing the ladder and be much further off the ground by this point. I hope, for your friend’s sake, that she has her finances in order.

  • I donno…. although she could have taken more steps to improve herself, if you are unemployed in this economy, I heard it is BRUTAL to get something similar or close to similar….

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