KALIS: Finding work is a lot of work!

When I first got out of college, I moved back home and began my job search. Every day, I had a list of cover letters and resumes to send out and follow-up calls to make.
Sep 17, 2013


This went on for months and months. 

My brother, fresh out of college, was back home as well and doing the exact same thing. I remember we played a lot of pingpong.

My poor parents.

My dad’s desperation became apparent when he decided to “help” me by lining up interviews for job openings he had heard about. One time, I arrived and quickly took note that the entire staff appeared to be retired big-time wrestlers. The job entailed loading blocks of ice bigger than myself onto a truck, then delivering them with a guy named “Big Larry.” 

Thanks, Dad.

Another time he told me his friend knew someone that could get me an office job. He said to just go and mention his friend’s name. And so I did. Only the people there had never heard of the man. As I stood there in my spiffy new interview suit and practical pumps, trying to figure out what to do next, a woman wearing a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off said in a gruff voice, “Ever work on an assembly line before?” Then she spit for emphasis. 

Again — thanks, Dad.

Of course, this is the same man who actually pouted when I did finally get a real job as a writer in an advertising agency. It meant I would no longer be working for “Erma’s Frozen Custard” and bringing him home the extras to eat.

At any rate, 25 years later, my job search has proven to be just as challenging.

For many years, I worked as an associate creative director and writer in advertising. But when my husband and I decided to have children, I wanted to stay home to raise them — a decision we will never, ever regret, no matter how many sacrifices we’ve made. 

In the beginning it worked out great. I had figured as a writer I could still freelance from home, and I did for quite a while; but, as the economy worsened, the projects became few and far between. Agencies did not want to hire outside of their own staff, and I found myself back to sending out cover letters and resumes and work samples just as I had done so many years ago. 

Since my kids are older now and more self-sufficient, I decided I would look into finding something part-time while still searching for a writing position. I applied at a deli — apparently, although I’ve made thousands of sandwiches for my kids over the years, I do not look like the type capable of spreading mayo.

I applied at a fitness center for a front desk position. It turns out that I am not qualified to fold towels and point people in the right direction. 

It seems that even with these simple, everyday jobs, there is always someone who has done it before and whom they’d prefer to hire. 

Of course, jobs that seem perfect for you don’t always turn out either. I’ve interviewed for jobs that appeared to be made for me only to find out later that they hired a family member instead, or are “re-thinking” the position. 

The other day, I spent a good part of my morning working on a lengthy online application. It was for a job writing a blog about stay-at-home moms. Now come on — I spent years writing for a living and have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years. Who could possibly be a better candidate?  

I got a response later that afternoon citing that, after reading over my credentials, they felt I was not qualified nor had enough knowledge on the topic. What?! 

The next day, I received an e-mail from one of the many job seeker sites for which I had signed up. It was alerting me of a job opening they thought might interest me. I eagerly clicked on it. It was for an armed security guard. 

Now, let me get this straight: I am more qualified to yield a weapon than make a sandwich, fold a towel or write a paragraph? 

If I told my dad, I’m sure he would encourage me to apply. But I’m going to pass on it — and, like so many others, especially in Michigan, I will continue to look for work. 

As the cost of my kids’ sports activities rise, so does my level of frustration. But I believe with hard work, determination, a lot of hope and a little bit of luck, I will find something. 

If you know of anyone looking for a writer not willing to carry a gun, please let me know.

— Kelly Kalis is a Tribune community columnist.



Hey Kelly, Good News! Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, is doling out millions from a $67,000,000 slush fund to local entities to hire Navigators to enroll the unsuspecting in Obamacare.

Navigators are not required to undergo background checks. Criminal records are not automatically disqualifying — and that includes identity theft. You will have to undergo 20 hours of online training (paid)to become an expert on the 1,000 page ObamaCare bill. Navigators don’t have to know math or insurance, but rules announced April 5 specify you have to match the race, ethnicity, and language preferences of the neighborhood that will be targeted.

Better yet, this fantastic opportunity will pay from $20 up to $48.00 per hour, much better than spreading mayo and folding towels. Although not listed in the qualifications for the position, I suspect having a background and experience in advertising and creative writing will propel you to the top of the applicants. Good Luck!

You're welcome.


way to throw the gun topic out there. At least thief's know who the easy target is. Who pays for a creative writing degree and expects to get a job easily?

Tri-cities realist

Perhaps it is not the authors skills, but attitude that is lacking.


This is a tend that is going to grow. Robotic automation. Computerized processes. Millions of people have been replaced by robots and software processes since 1979, 1989 and 2000. There have quantum leaps in technology at those years pointed out above. But our property taxes keep going up and up. We have been replaced by robots. Now we cannot find jobs. But the bills are still due. People have poo pooed this theory but more and more its coming true. Thats why people are on welfare and stay there. Thats why young people and some elder people are choosing crimes to get prison time to cover medical/housing needs. The machines have taken over, but the machines don't pay your bills. All of society will eventually be replaced. Teachers are being replace by online classes, Soon it will be robotic nurses, then robotic doctors. All meds will be dispensed by robot. Then how will we all going to pay our property tax bills that keep coming in. Those are sent by robotic technology also. We are all getting screwed over! Technology is putting masses of people into irreversible poverty. You can laugh at me all you want! They sure did in 1979. Remember when Bill Gates said "54K is all you will ever need" Even he did not see robots taking over.

Tri-cities realist

Well at least people will still be needed to design and program the robots, or has that already been automated too? Another reason why math and science education is so important.


Artificial intelligence should ease the workload on those aspects as well, in theory. However, the days of automated engineering are many decades away.


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