Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

5 of 5
BACKNEXT
Michelle Etheridge
Unemployed since: April 2008

Benefits expired: February 2009

Filed in: Virginia

Age: 38

I was an executive assistant when I was laid off -- a day before I was scheduled to have major surgery. At first, I wasn't concerned at all; I have a lot of skills, and I'd planned to take six to eight weeks for recovery, anyway. I figured it would take about three weeks to get a new job; instead, months went by.

I started taking online classes in marketing at the University of Phoenix. It's only making things worse. I asked my interviewers why I wasn't getting the jobs, and they said, "You're way overqualified." It's cheaper to hire someone who knows nothing, so the employer can train them and pay them less.

I received the maximum $385 in my weekly unemployment checks. Even though I was approved for up to a year, I had to reapply after six months. I didn't know that, so I was without benefits for about a month. Then I ran through the extension, and I reached my maximum in February.

I applied for jobs in every field -- some that are so below me, others above me. I've applied for everything, saying I'll take a huge pay cut and sign a two-year contract. I was averaging about 12 resumes a week for a long time, but lately it's down to about four a week.

Now, I have two part-time jobs that don't pay as much combined as my unemployment check, and I sometimes drive 100 miles a day. I work 15 hours a week as an executive assistant for a motivational speaker, and about nine hours per week as an assistant to retirement advisors. Neither job guarantees those hours each week.

I'm hoping for a benefits extension, because it I got one, they'd pay the difference between what I make now and what I was receiving on unemployment. But I don't expect it. I consider myself really together, but I lost it for a bit. My two kids had to move in with their dad full-time. It was very stressful. I've always been able to take care of myself. I worry that I'm going to lose all the skills I worked so hard to get.

More galleries

Last updated July 17 2009: 10:06 AM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
More Galleries
America's 12 biggest companies now In the past 6 years, giants like Exxon and Walmart have slid while tech companies have soared. More
'Spotlight' is just the latest edition of newspaper movies Here's a list of the best newspaper movies. More
Most valuable car collection ever auctioned In total, the 'Pinnacle Portfolio' is the most valuable group of cars from one collection ever sold in a single auction. More

Special Offer