Don’t let desperation cloud your judgment

[Ben continues to fight the good fight, looking for work wherever he might find it. He fell a little short of the promised land in his last post. This time, well, he’s even further away and feeling a little desperate.]

Ben Breier, 23, was a reporter and web producer for the New York Observer’s, a political news network that suffered massive cutbacks last December. Prior to working in New York City, Ben covered climate change and energy-related issues at the federal policy level for Inside Washington Publishers, a trade publication network in Washington, DC. A graduate of Kent State University’s journalism program in 2007, Ben lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Ben can be reached at ben.breier[at]gmail[dot]com. His resume can be found here.

I caused quite a stir on a popular New York City technology discussion group a little while back. The site describes itself as… “a fun way to connect both socially and professionally with up and comers who have a stake in future of tech and new media in New York City.” They tend to focus on Web 2.0/3.0 and related topics. I’ve been lurking there lately (rather than actively contributing), mostly because I lack the technical knowledge to comment on MySQL, intuitive query builders and other sexy and exciting topics. But I recently weighed in with a couple of questions…

  • How does someone make the transition from the media world to Web 2.0 without an expert knowledge of programming languages?
  • What kinds of jobs exist in the industry for people with my mixed online and journalism background?

My questions proved polarizing. One group member lashed out, calling me desperate. Another defended my actions, asking what was wrong with desperation in this tough economic climate. The responses were definitely more positive than negative, and I learned a lot by simply posing the questions.

Desperation isn’t a terrible thing, especially when coupled with the desire to work hard and learn new things. But an overwhelming desire to be employed can definitely play tricks on your mind. I recently applied for an administrative assistant job I found through Indeed – the Google of job sites. For the record, Indeed is a key resource in my job hunt. I simply key in my salary range and location, and the site spits out thousands of appropriate job openings. If you’re unemployed, do yourself a huge favor and try it out.

In this instance, Indeed linked me to a shady-looking, spam-infested site with design aesthetics left over from 1999. I forwarded my resume; a job’s a job to me. Ten seconds after clicking the submit button, I got a call from a telemarketing service that wanted to know if I was interested in pursuing higher education.

In this economy, people are looking to take advantage of everybody – and unfortunately, that includes the unemployed. Desperation, or at least the perception of desperation, makes you an easy target. Norm discussed some of his experiences on Jobless and Less a few months back. Unemployed people need to be active in looking for work. But we also need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves. If a job application asks for information more personal than an email address, such as a phone number, think before providing it. Does the company seem reputable? Will your information end up in the hands of spammers? The quality of their site will often reveal the answer.

Desperation is like hot sauce – a little bit can go a long way. But too much will set your pallet on fire, and send you scrambling for the nearest thing to put out the blaze. Sometimes all you’ll find is a crap sandwich.

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  1. Insightful words.

    As a laid off old timer in high tech, I have similar challenges.

    Desperation suggests a ruthless focus on discovering new approaches.

    Thanks for all you do

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 5:35 pm | Permalink
  2. Yump wrote:

    You could whittle this down to a single statement: avoid Craigslist like the plague.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  3. Cliff wrote:


    If only individuals could file for a federal government “bail-out”. Just like banking institutions and other major

    corporations have done and are doing. To do so without the fear of the Federal Government determining our personal

    futures would be a relief both of financial and emotional burdens. But then again, maybe not. If the Feds named a

    new executive director “Czar” in our life, or seized our assets, and okay perhaps our asses, would it be too

    costly? Maybe some could afford a portion of the later; but I digress.

    In a moment of the morning, arising from nightime’s forgotten dreams and slumber, the impact of joblessness, lack

    of income, loss of savings, and a checking account that has as much tangable value as trying to chase down the

    wind, the impact of reality becomes the daily burden to carry.

    Again I’m trying to cope with my situation, as are so many, that I too am facing another day in the relentless war

    with emotions that battle my thought process. Like disgust, anger, depression, hopelessness. Feelings of dejection

    and rejections. Worthlessness, nervousness and a hollow feeling within the soul. Confusion, that comes like tidal

    waves, ever cascading over the beachhead of the mind. I fear that I’m losing this war.

    While desparately looking for a job I ask, What could I give up to generate a cashflow? What could I sell? What

    can I do to make extra cash, any cash – when seemingly no one or no company has a cashflow to spend or purchase

    with. Talk about the proverbial “catch 22”. I’m deep in it. Many are.

    It’s a daily grind just to get through without a mental hemorage of sorts. Without coming undone and taking out the

    frustrations on a family member, a loved one, a friend or a complete stranger or even upon myself.

    The day ends like all others. Seemingly nothing accomplished that would change the current course of life’s

    circumstances. And so, it’s off to bed to put an end to the mundane repetition of yesterday.

    Blessed with life, but all the same, the moring comes and I wake up broke, again. Emotionally, financially. Broke

    just the same.

    Maybe I should have chosen politics as a career. Its a guaranteed job with “percs” and benefits and salaries. Yet

    after considering it too, the cost of doing business as politicians do, has a greater cost of the soul. As I wake

    up from this daydream I realize to do so (becoming a politician) the spiritual impact would be the same, in my


    As a Veteran I ask: This is what I served for? Has America become a land of no opportunitites. Except for the

    elite, the elected and those on the public “dole”. Is it shameful to pray that they too would one day soon be


    A Jobless Vet In America.
    -Clifford D in Texas.
    May, August, September… 2009.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink