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How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Old Aug 17th 2012, 1:31 am
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Default How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

We have now been here for 9 months. I have actively been looking for a suitable job for about 6 months. We need me to work as while my OH's salary pays the bills it really doesn't go much beyond that. In the 6 months I've been looking the only roles I am hearing back from are retail sales asst ones. I gladly took one of these and worked for 4 months full time but got laid off last week along with some of the other members of staff.

So, now I am back to square one. I just feel so powerless. At home I had a really good salaried job with good prospects etc for the future. I gave that up so we could focus on my husband's career as he would not have been able to get something suitable in his profession where we lived. I'm on linkedin, and spend hours each day applying for roles. I'm getting to the stage where I am panicking. I don't want us to have to be back in a situation where we have to count every single penny again. I've never before had a problem getting a job. Please tell me it's not just me!
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 1:38 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Sorry to hear about the position you are in and no...it's not you. We hear time and time again from UK spouses who find it very difficult to find a job in the US. In the US it seems it's not what you know but who you know...networking and ass kissing is the secret. The current economy makes it even worse...hopefully it will pick up soon.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 1:45 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

It is the way things are. Too many people chasing too few jobs.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 2:26 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Gillymonkey View Post
...I've never before had a problem getting a job. Please tell me it's not just me!
It's not just you and I know the feeling....keep plugging away and good luck!
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 3:03 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Sorry to hear you got laid off. I'm also in sunny San Diego. Only been here for 4 weeks (head's still spinning) but started looking for work (any work, nothing too specific) straight away and so far...after filling out countless online applications, I've had no luck. Thankfully I've got savings to keep me going for a while but I'd much rather be earning and enjoying fresh money.

I'm trying to remain positive. I wish you luck finding work soon.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 3:38 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by lansbury View Post
It is the way things are. Too many people chasing too few jobs.
Unemployment rate in California is 10.8%. Down from its peak but still way higher than it has been since the early '80's. And that doesn't even count those that are discouraged from looking, those that are working part-time or those that are taking "any" job rather than something they actually want to do.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 4:16 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Gillymonkey View Post
We have now been here for 9 months. I have actively been looking for a suitable job for about 6 months. We need me to work as while my OH's salary pays the bills it really doesn't go much beyond that. In the 6 months I've been looking the only roles I am hearing back from are retail sales asst ones. I gladly took one of these and worked for 4 months full time but got laid off last week along with some of the other members of staff.

So, now I am back to square one. I just feel so powerless. At home I had a really good salaried job with good prospects etc for the future. I gave that up so we could focus on my husband's career as he would not have been able to get something suitable in his profession where we lived. I'm on linkedin, and spend hours each day applying for roles. I'm getting to the stage where I am panicking. I don't want us to have to be back in a situation where we have to count every single penny again. I've never before had a problem getting a job. Please tell me it's not just me!
Hi Gillymonkey, I'm a trailing spouse here. I'm sorry to hear about your situation; I think I know how you feel.

When I first started job-hunting here in LA I was just looking for part-time office work. Nothing spectacular, and I have lots of office experience, but I barely got one interview. Like you, I'd never had any trouble getting a job before, at least in this pay bracket. I didn't know if it was me, or the [email protected] CA economy. I think the low point was when I was rejected for a Macy's Christmas job.

I don't have any spectacular advice, unfortunately. Networking and getting the word out through friends obviously helps. I got really sick of filling out anonymous online forms where I couldn't even input non-American education or experience. It felt so pointless.

For me, after a month or two getting rejected from jobs I didn't really want (I know; wonderful attitude), I went back to teaching ESL, which I'd done before. That wasn't the plan, but ESL was the one industry where my experience in Asia and Europe actually seemed like a plus, rather than something unquantifiable and unAmerican.

So, in that sense, I was lucky, and I don't want to sound ungrateful. ESL was my safety net; I was surprised that I had to use it -- I think I was extremely naive about the job situation in LA -- but ESL was there, and the money was getting very tight.

(Back when I didn't even have my EAD, so couldn't even apply for anything, I thought I'd been flashed by a traffic light camera. Sitting at home, wondering if I'd get a letter, I found out that the fine was typically $500. That would've been completely ruinous, and I cried all bloody afternoon. Happy ending: LA can't afford to administrate its cameras, and now they don't even send fines out any more. So that's one plus to living in a semi-bankrupt state.)

As I said, I was definitely happy to get any job -- but there can be something very grating about being the trailing spouse, the supporting act. Even though I enjoy teaching, I don't consider it my future. And I couldn't see my husband ever applying for a Macy's Christmas job. But he's not blind to my concerns, so I hope within a few years we'll end up it a situation that suits us both. The utopia of trailing spouses!

In the meantime, I really hope things look up for your situation. Since you have American experience, I'm sure your applications are being taken more seriously than mine ever were, so it's surely just a matter of time before something clicks. Having no real practical advice, all I can say is: you're absolutely not the only one.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 6:34 am
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Thanks for all the replies. It is good to know I am not the only one going through this. I feel like I really struggle with feeling like I am better than this. I hated my last job here where I was so patronised it was unbelievable but it was a job and that meant a wage.

I am looking at all options. At the moment I would be happy with some office admin work. Just something where I can use my brain! I never dreamt that after spending years getting experience and buidling a career for myself I would be stuck scrabbling to get work as a retail sales asst. I just don't like what it does to my sense of pride and purpose to take such a massive step down. The strange thing is I never thought of myself as a career person. At home it was just a job but now that that has gone I can see what it actually meant to be able to say confidently to other people what I did every day (even though to this day my Mum still gets it wrong!) My OH is lovely about it, he is happy if I am happy. I guess I am the worrier in the relationship!
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 12:09 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Been there, got the t-shirt, felt those feelings in spades, in several countries. Being the trailing spouse is difficult enough on its own, but it can be true hell in an economically depressed country. Most employers will not understand or care about your foreign education or experience, & if you DO get a job, you have to put up with the locals' condescension & incomprehension daily. Don't let it get you down--it's not you. It's anyone new, starting from outside the system. (And it happens in many/most countries.) Find a way to keep up your sense of self-worth, whether it's volunteering, online groups, writing every day, whatever it takes to cope.

The jobs may come & go, & be of varying quality (from decent to unbearable), but remember that you're not your job.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 12:14 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Gillymonkey View Post
Thanks for all the replies. It is good to know I am not the only one going through this. I feel like I really struggle with feeling like I am better than this. I hated my last job here where I was so patronised it was unbelievable but it was a job and that meant a wage.

I am looking at all options. At the moment I would be happy with some office admin work. Just something where I can use my brain! I never dreamt that after spending years getting experience and buidling a career for myself I would be stuck scrabbling to get work as a retail sales asst. I just don't like what it does to my sense of pride and purpose to take such a massive step down. The strange thing is I never thought of myself as a career person. At home it was just a job but now that that has gone I can see what it actually meant to be able to say confidently to other people what I did every day (even though to this day my Mum still gets it wrong!) My OH is lovely about it, he is happy if I am happy. I guess I am the worrier in the relationship!

It's definitely not just you, but have you had someone "americanize" your resume yet? If not, it's worth having someone look at it and help you with that. You have to sell yourself differently here, and I do mean sell.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 2:37 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Retailers should be hiring again with the build up to Christmas.

I think waiting for the economy to improve would be futile, it will only get worse. From what I can gather CA seems to be getting hit harder and will continue to do so.

As others have said, network.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 2:55 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Boiler View Post
I think waiting for the economy to improve would be futile, it will only get worse. From what I can gather CA seems to be getting hit harder and will continue to do so.
Third highest rate in the union, but otoh it is creating jobs faster than almost any other state than North Dakota.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 4:35 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Gillymonkey View Post
Just something where I can use my brain! I never dreamt that after spending years getting experience and buidling a career for myself I would be stuck scrabbling to get work as a retail sales asst.
The way you are looked as is you are a newcomer. Your previous experience counts for nothing, you are almost expected to start at the bottom and work you way up.
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 5:55 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Originally Posted by Gillymonkey View Post
We have now been here for 9 months. I have actively been looking for a suitable job for about 6 months. We need me to work as while my OH's salary pays the bills it really doesn't go much beyond that. In the 6 months I've been looking the only roles I am hearing back from are retail sales asst ones. I gladly took one of these and worked for 4 months full time but got laid off last week along with some of the other members of staff.

So, now I am back to square one. I just feel so powerless. At home I had a really good salaried job with good prospects etc for the future. I gave that up so we could focus on my husband's career as he would not have been able to get something suitable in his profession where we lived. I'm on linkedin, and spend hours each day applying for roles. I'm getting to the stage where I am panicking. I don't want us to have to be back in a situation where we have to count every single penny again. I've never before had a problem getting a job. Please tell me it's not just me!
What was your field back in the UK?

In previous posts you said you had a BA hons and a Masters Degree, so would have thought you were in some specialised area of work.

What has been the response from US companies if you have applied for jobs in that area?
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Old Aug 17th 2012, 6:30 pm
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Default Re: How do trailing spouses cope finding a job? - CA

Hi Gillymonkey,

I wanted to chime in about looking for work in CA. I spent many a time looking for jobs and it gets overwhelming, especially when you keep thinking about all the americans looking too. I know it's frustrating trying to include your UK experience, but you need to try and turn that around to be a positive thing.

Try to set yourself apart from all the other people applying. Someone said earlier about 'Americanizing' your resume (CV). It's worth going to a bookstore and looking through some of the resume books and seeing what you can find. You might see something that creates a spark. Also when you apply for a job, don't necessarily assume that the online application process is working. When I was most successful in getting an interview, it was when I sent in my resume through the system and then I figured out for myself how to apply directly also. Unless you're going through a search firm, you can normally figure out where the firm is based and contact them directly. Look on the internet and dig around. See if they have the job advertised on their website also. If they do try and find the hiring manager's information (phone and email). Sometimes the firm's website has more info than the Online Job site.

If you can find the hiring manager's information then that's really a good thing. Call them on the phone, introduce yourself and tell them you're looking to apply for the position. Ask them if they received your application through the online job web site. I found that literally 8 times out of 10 they never received it. If they have received it, ask them when they are trying to make a decision by and if you can call back for more info at a certain point.

It's amazing how many people don't call directly as they are too scared to. In doing so you'll be putting your name at the front of their mind. Also your accent will always go a long way to set you apart.

If they did not receive your application then ask for their direct email and send them your resume with a cover letter. Ask for confirmation that they received it. Again all this is helping to put your name in their mind.

Lastly, whenever you get someone on the phone... even if they just tell you that they have your resume and it will be reviewed at some point and they are matter of fact about it... send them a thank you card in the mail. This is huge and will definitely get you remembered and may help to get your resume to stand out from the crowd.

These are all little 'sales' techniques that will really help get you noticed. Good luck!! Cheers, MrM
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