Being Unemployed Feels A Lot Like Being Single
As 2020 continues to cement itself globally as just the friggin’ worst, I find myself unemployed for the first time since 2009, when I packed up a hundred pound purple suitcase and moved to New York City. The company where I was lucky to spend the last nine years fell victim to the financial impact of the COVID-19 closures and so, alongside tens of millions of others, I’ve found myself looking for a new role and I can’t stop thinking about how being unemployed feels an awful lot like being single.
I may be new to the life of a job hunter, but I am quite familiar with being single thankyouverymuch, and let me tell you…the parallels are eerie. Let us read the ways:
When you’re single: It always starts with a breakup. Of course there are a million and one ways to process the end of a relationship, but clichés are clichés for a reason, and I’d be surprised if your processing doesn’t involve some combination of a night with your friends and many margaritas, crying, ice cream, and therapy.
When you’re unemployed: I mean. See above.
When you’re single: After the initial shock and/or grief wears off, the freedom sets in. Literally everyone on the apps (and just like…walking down the street) seems like a bright, shiny, very attractive promise when you’ve been with the same (wrong) person for too many years.
When you’re unemployed: Ask me to check my work email! LOL I CAN’T! I. AM. FREE. Goodbye to my alarm clock and hello to weekday trips to the beach. If you’ve ever felt underpaid or overworked or underappreciated, even a cursory glance at job boards and career pages will make you believe in the limitless possibility of what’s just ahead on your horizon.
When you’re single: Crafting your bio on a dating app is a delicate balance of seeming attractive and available, but not desperate. I’m definitely not single because there’s something wrong with me. I’m still single because I have high standards!
When you’re unemployed: Crafting your cover letters and LinkedIn profile is a delicate balance of seeming valuable and available, but not desperate. I’m definitely not unemployed because there’s something wrong with me. I’m still unemployed because I respect myself enough to hold out for the right opportunity with a company who recognizes my worth!
When you’re single: These days, a breakup is usually followed by scrubbing most signs of your ex from social media, save for a few scattered pics so you don’t seem too chronically alone.
When you’re unemployed: Welcome to tailoring your resume to each and every job description and removing past experience that is no longer relevant. Proud you may be of your stint as a server at the Olive Garden during college (#breadsticksforlife), it sadly no longer warrants real estate on your resume over a decade later.
When you’re single: Oh no no no SIR, you are not going to ghost me. I didn’t even like you! You can’t reject me! I REJECT YOU.
When you’re unemployed: Ever had a recruiter tell you they were declining to move forward with your candidacy for a job you felt you were overqualified for and applied to as a kind of throwaway “safe” option? Yeah. It’s a fun feeling.
When you’re single: You will forever find yourself staying up too late swiping on Tinder and Bumble. You will be unable to account for the last two to three hours.
When you’re unemployed: Anyone up for a midnight scroll on LinkedIn?
When you’re single: Especially in the current online dating climate, even if you actually want a relationship, it’s easy to fear “settling” when there appears to be a bottomless supply of singles just a swipe away. What if your next date is your soulmate?
When you’re unemployed: You may dream of receiving an offer, ANY offer, but perhaps the offer you finally receive leaves a lot to be desired. Do you take it because another may never come along? But what if another does and it’s better? Pays better? Has better opportunities for growth? Has a kitchen with snacks and cold brew on tap?
When you’re single: Have you ever gone on a first date that was so amazing, so in flow, so full of sparkly chemistry that you texted all your friends on the train ride home that he kissed you good night and he wants to see you again and you’ve finally met The One? And all your friends sent “OMG YESSSSSS!!!” and “OF COURSE HE WANTS TO SEE YOU AGAIN, QUEEN!!!” and body roll GIFs and emotional crying emojis? And then you never heard from him again?
When you’re unemployed: You know you aced that interview and the hiring manager asked how soon you could start and said they’d reach out with the offer details later that afternoon, so you call your mom and text your best friend telling them you’re pretty sure you’re starting a new job on Monday. But then Monday rolls around and instead of an offer letter, all you’ve received is a rejection email and so you’re forced to drown your silly optimism in a 4:00 glass of wine.
When you’re single: Okay so generally, I don’t believe in competing with other women, but when you finally meet an emotionally available, employed, handsome man, you can be your most confident, charming self, and it’ll still be hard to not dwell on the hoards of accomplished, stylish, smart, gorgeous, single women right at his fingertips.
When you’re unemployed: Why is everyone else younger and smarter with years of Zendesk and Salesforce experience? WHEN DID YOU ALL GET MBA’s?!
When you’re single: You haven’t had “the talk” yet, but you’ve somehow deluded yourself into operating under the assumption that you’re exclusive anyway until it becomes clear there are others vying for his attention.
When you’re unemployed: I’m sorry, did you say “other candidate”? Cool cool cool. No, right, totally, that makes sense.
At the end of the day, as callous as it sounds, it’s just a numbers game. The many dates and many applications are all in pursuit of just one (or more than one…you do you!) ideal match. And whether “ideal” means a long term commitment or just having your more immediate needs met, may the universe bring you everything you’ve ever wished AND worked your ass off for.