Last time DH was unemployed, he couldn’t get unemployment insurance because he’d left his (professor) job, and the only way he could have lost the job would be to quit or be fired.
This time, DH is in a textbook layoff situation– first furloughed (but didn’t bother getting unemployment supplementation even though he could have) and now the company has gone entirely out of business.
Sadly, our state does not currently have the covid provision that you can get unemployment even if not looking for work. If he wants unemployment insurance money, he needs to look for work.
If he gets unemployment insurance, he would qualify for somewhere around $500/week or $2000/month, which is not nothing. Back when we had a mortgage, that would have been our mortgage.
The hang-up is about looking for work. DH wants a break before going to the next job. Last time he had a 3 month break (basically summer) and enjoyed it immensely. But he was also younger then. More attractive to companies, maybe? (We don’t actually know that much about age discrimination in high level tech positions even though we very much WANT to know. It seems like some of the problem is that when you’re older you are expected to have connections. And DH does have connections– everyone who has ever worked with him LOVES him and he’s done pro-bono stuff for companies when I’ve had technical issues with their technology.) And will there be a problem with an extended length of unemployment (again, we don’t really know much about higher level workers and the effects of unemployment duration– really big literature, but nothing specific for our case… the closest is the Farber et al. work which suggests it maybe won’t be a concern for DH).
He’s also not sure what he wants to do next. Ideally he’d do some kind of consulting where he swoops in and fixes difficult technical problems for people and they feel grateful and he’s done something that matters. But… that’s not how large consulting companies work (particularly not the consulting company that his labmate wants him to work at)– they tend to be called in for CYA reasons or management doesn’t understand technology reasons and do something superficial that isn’t actually helpful and doesn’t get used. That’s totally demoralizing. He does not at all want to be an adjunct or lecturer at the university even though he could get a job doing that easily (and be paid very little to do so!).
One of his former coworkers is now working for a company that they worked with in the past that sounds to me like it would be a good fit. They’re larger than the previous company and actually get products out to market instead of being an SBIR-mill. And they allow working from home. And he likes the people. But DH is holding back on asking about it. There’s something about it he can’t articulate that makes him not currently interested. It may just be that he wants a sabbatical and this could lock him in for work for another decade. I don’t know [update: DH says the project they worked on together didn’t go well for reasons involving a third company not holding up their end]. I keep saying that once his former coworker gets settled DH should find out if he likes working there and hit up that network.
He could also switch from medical the-thing-he-does to just the-thing-he-does which is used in many industries, not just medicine. There are several older members from his grad program actively looking for new employees at their companies. Or he could just do computer programming– he’s one of those types who can pick up any new language in a few days. And he’s known at a company I’ve bought specialized equipment from since he worked with them to fix some of their bugs that were causing me problems. His plan for the month was to work on gimp via github, which is an open source project that would allow him to do labor for free that he could put on his resume to get his computer science cred up. Or he could lean back on his imaging and instrumentation experience, which he has kept his hand in.
Anything that isn’t work from home, we’d have to move for. And I cannot move. There are like 20 jobs for people at my level in econ this year, and I did not apply to any of them. (Though I think I would have had a shot at a couple of the jobs in Boston, but I can’t move poor DC1 in the middle of hir high school career from high school in the south to high school in Massachusetts for so many reasons. Even if it would be so much better for DC2.) Moving makes more sense in a couple of years when DC1 is out of high school and DC2 hasn’t yet started.
Then there’s all the jobs listed on the state unemployment website. DH is over-qualified for many of them, but they’re not really good fits at all. It looks like he wouldn’t have to accept jobs from them if offered because they likely don’t pay enough, but I’m not sure that he wouldn’t still have to apply to some number in order to get unemployment benefits. If getting a job is most likely through networking, how much active cold applying will he have to do? He’s going to look into that more.
Is it better to be able to say, “I took time off from applying to jobs to work on these fun projects and to help deal with the covid schooling situation” or to put the minimum amount of intensity into finding a job in order to get unemployment benefits, risking getting one that isn’t a good fit? Or should he tap those networks hard to see if he can get a job, even though covid means a lot of places won’t be hiring? (And we just found out that his friend who got him this job 7 years ago and left a few years back took 8 months to find a new position, though he didn’t quit his old job first and was definitely looking for something remote and stable that pays well. Sadly for DH, he landed at a start up that can’t afford another engineer!)
I know hiring cycles start in January, so maybe we should just wait until the new year to worry about it after DH has had a break. It looks like he can put off applying for unemployment insurance about that long without triggering any red flags. I’m not sure how long he can put off applying before it gets difficult to apply though. The website only says, things like “we encourage you to apply the first week you’re unemployed.”
Have you ever applied for unemployment insurance? Have you taken breaks between jobs?