'I just want a job'

The job market has just started gaining momentum, but that's of little consolation to these Americans. They've been job searching for months with no luck.

'If I give up, I've got nothing'

real people randy carpadus

I changed careers over the years. I've served in the military, done sales, project management, construction, and along the way, I've served as a volunteer firefighter.

I'm the third generation in my family in the fire service, and after being a volunteer for 12 years, then I decided I wanted to get into the fire service full time.

I was working as a firefighter for the state of California and was laid off in April 2012, right at the beginning of fire season. At my age, I'm not going to be picked up by another fire department. They want younger guys.

I've applied for everything from truck driver, to sales, to nonprofit work. I've sent out almost 400 resumes, and I've gotten nothing. I've done whatever I could to make ends meet.

Through some connections, I got a temp job as a truck driver in Napa Valley -- a 3-hour commute from where I live. I lived in my car and worked during grape harvest.

I also volunteer running a nonprofit that rescues injured and sick dogs.

I honestly think it's my age. Employers are looking for younger, cheaper, more malleable people. There's also maybe a belief we're not going to work as hard.

I work very hard. I paid my taxes. I treat people right. But the karma, the breaks -- they just don't seem to be coming my way.

I won't give up. I made a promise to my wife a long long time ago, that I wouldn't lose the house. This is our place, this is where our kids grew up. If I give up, I've got nothing.

- Last updated January 09 2014 01:01 PM ET
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