An Advice Layout and My Experience With Unemployment

ETA: My thoughts and prayers are with Boston after the tragic events yesterday at the marathon. Bless the first responders who immediately took action to save lives.

I saw a quote on Pinterest recently and it really resonated with where I am right now. That kind of feeling always sparks a layout idea and I got to work right away so I wouldn’t forget it.

This layout was inspired by a layout from Wilna Furstenburg’s Art Class workshop at Two Peas.  I highly recommend this class. Wilna has a way of presenting her techniques and walking you through what she is doing that makes it look so easy. It certainly made me want to create several layouts with techniques I’ve never tried. I love a good technique, even if not all of my pages include them.

I was really inspired by one of Wilna’s pages where she cut her title out with her Silhouette and used pattern papers behind the negative cut of the words. This technique is a great way to use up some pattern paper scraps. That is exactly what I did. I went to my blue scrap drawer and pulled out a variety of different strips.

Originally I thought my layout was just going to be shades of blue, but as I pulled papers, I could see an aqua/red trend forming so I changed up my original idea as I worked. Including the background paper I was going to use. In my head, I saw myself going with a white on white idea. But when the red was introduced, I needed to go in a different direction. I practically heard angels singing when I put my quote cut on this Studio Calico background. I always steer toward the neutral backgrounds.

With all of my selections made, the layout came together in a matter of minutes. The quote is the focal point and I used a small photo that perfectly fit in with the mood and sentiment of the page. I added in the dark navy ribbons and ink splatters to help balance the dark tones in the photo. This layout is a reminder that even though I am so far away from how successful I was in a career I loved, there is nowhere for me to go at this point but up. I can’t give up. I have to keep moving forward.

This quote resonated with me so much because I started working again recently. In retail. I have no control over my schedule and I’m finding it really hard to be creative when I do have some free hours. It is so far away from my fancy, corporate 9-5 job. But I’m grateful to be working and to have some money coming in.

I have worked with this company before in a different capacity and I know the local team is thrilled to have me. That is almost more important to me right now than the fact that the job is not in my field, nor will it necessarily advance my career in the future. But I’ll make the best of it.

I have been pretty open about my struggles with unemployment. For anyone who hasn’t been through this, it can be quite hard to comprehend how awful the situation is. I have been living with it for four years and I still don’t understand. I have a Bachelor’s degree in business. I have a long and successful track record spanning 12 years and being consistently promoted. I have knowledge in a variety of areas and could do any number of things.

But I have been out of work long enough to become unemployable. I don’t understand how that is even possible. A company has a job opening, I am fully capable of excelling in that position, I apply, I am free and available to start tomorrow, yet they won’t talk to me. I have applied for positions at my level and below my level and in my industry and totally outside of anything I have ever done before. I have talked to recruiters. And even though I have always been self reliant and hate to ask for help, I have called on former bosses, former co-workers, former professors and anyone that might be able to open a door.

When doors do open, hiring managers and HR people put you in a box. And you better not dare try to get a job outside that box. I’ve been told many times that I don’t fit because there is no line item on my resume that says I’ve done it before. So I explain how my past experience is relevant, how I did this and that and how it’s similar. But more importantly, I am smart and bright and learn fast. Unfortunately, once they make that initial “you don’t fit” perception, it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.

It’s hard for me to talk about this as I did have such a successful career. I have worked hard my entire life. I landed every single job I ever tried to get. I never thought I would be in this position. But I was laid off, through no fault of my own and the downward spiral ensued from there. I always thought that with my skills and knowledge I’d be able to get an admin assistant position or a coordinator spot somewhere. But I’m overqualified and again, HR people make assumptions and decide for you that you won’t want to make less money and you will not be happy in this position and you will make all of our other employees distracted by how unhappy you are, so we won’t even give you a chance to prove us wrong.

It’s a vicious cycle and there’s no way out. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do. I apply to everything I think I could perform well at. I call on people just in case they have a lead, because I do know that if you know the right person who knows the right person, you’ll get in the door. I do volunteer work. I attend industry lunches and networking functions. I make phone calls. I follow up. Yet, all my leads run into dead ends.

So I found a job in retail. The bills need to be paid. I need to work. And it feels really good to be out of the house, away from the computer and all of the rejection I’ve experienced over the last year. If I know anything, it’s that my career cannot be over. I am not done. I still have so much more to contribute and share. I pray that someday I’ll have the chance to do that again in my field. For now, I’ll make the best of this opportunity.

And just keep moving forward. Even if it’s only baby steps.

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there. And thanks so much for stopping by today.


  1. Unemployment is a long and frustrating road to travel, one my hubby is on as well. Nothing seems to make sense when it comes to getting a job, not even who you happen to know. I hope the perfect job for you is somewhere down the road, Tammy. I love the diecut work you did on your layout. So pretty with the paper behind it.

  2. your layout is awesome and the quote is just amazing.

    i wish you all the luck in your search. I am sure it is very difficult. you seem to have such a positive frame of mind. I think that will totally help! my fingers are crossed that you find that perfect fit!

  3. You’ve made it this far, now you hang in there. Given the circumstances, I am impressed with how much determination you still have. Hopefully the right next career move is just around the corner. And your layout is fabulous too!

  4. Your layout is great! Love the quote. Good Luck!

  5. I have been in the unemployment line before. It really makes a person feel like crap!
    Love the quote! And really like the layout!!

  6. My DH and I both lost our jobs within 2 weeks of each other, we both looked and had to take jobs that were not what we wanted or paid what we were used to but we kept looking and now after several years we both have jobs we love and are back in the seeing of things. Don’t give up!

  7. First off – wonderful layout!
    Love the big quote.

    And I am so sorry for your search for employment struggles.
    It just doesn’t seem fair.
    I hope that you find something soon in the field you want!

  8. I totally resonate with this Tammy & applaud you for weathering unemployment so well these past few years. I enjoy visiting your blog & seeing how you’re staying creative & enjoying life in the midst of it all. We experienced the same thing when Robbie was looking for a new executive level job – when he was unemployed (after helping successfully sell the company he worked for!!!!), the job ads said they only wanted to interview people who were currently employed! Seriously!! He was able to find a job in the same position but it’s totally different & less challenging, etc … but it’s ok for now!

    God has a plan for your life – praying that He will reveal it in an amazing way soon!

  9. I love your layout and give you kudos for the subject. I was laid off in 2009 and I’m still trying to find a job. As an IT manager, I had a job that I liked, was good at and paid great. Now I’m working part-time as a cashier for a little weekly spending money and I hate it. I wouldn’t even think of putting that in my professional resume. The gap in my resume is now a big NO NO and proceeds me into any interview I’m lucky enough to get. I never expected to be in this position at this point in my life. I’m tired of peoples positive words. I’m a smart and good worker… I just want a job that I can feel pride in, regardless of the level or pay. I need to stay strong, but it’s hard.

  10. First off I LOVE your layout….the use of negative space on the letter is perfect.
    I am so sorry to read about your unemployment. I too dealt with this a few years ago and had to go back to school to get a special education credential in order to get another teaching job as they are just not hiring elementary teachers in Southern California like they were at one time. Unemployment can be so depressing so I totally commend you for pressing on and taking a job you might not have previously. Maybe someday you will be able to look back and make sense of it all. Big hugs to you!

  11. I love your layout. I really like the papers behind the cut outs, and the cut out itself.
    I am so sorry you are going through all this trouble to find a job in your field. All the best to you, and maybe this job you have now, will lead to something better you would have never thought you would have wanted.

  12. Love the quote!
    The technique is great!!!

  13. Love the quote, and I am sorry your job searching has been so frustrating. My brother has gone through a similar experience and it has been very hard. But things are looking up for him, so I trust the same will be true for you! Hang in there.

  14. Tammy… I know the perfect job is out there for you and I hope it finds you soon!!! I love the way you used Wilna’s technique on your page 🙂

  15. Thanks for sharing your story. It isn’t easy to put yourself out there like this, but it is so important for people to hear what the experiences is like. I’ll wish you luck, though I’m sure you’re sick of hearing “good luck” at this point. I only know you online, but you certainly seem like someone who would make a great employee and co-worker. It will happen. And in the meantime, keep publishing on your awesome blog. 🙂



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