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Graduated in 2001 with degrees in Engineering and Computer Science from a top-20 university, in the upper quartile of my class. Right in the midst of massive layoffs in the technology sector, and pretty much everywhere else in the economy. Apparently having good marks, being white, and having good communications skills counts for nothing these days.

Sent out thousands of resumes, and rarely got a response to any of them. Basically, I would stay awake for days at a time, for weeks/months/years after graduation, for a few years, sending out resumes, only knocking myself out every few days with a few drinks and basically crashing.

Now its 2011, and I'm still sending out resumes, even though my sleep problems have been brought under control with ativan, restoril, and zopiclone as medication when I get really agitated about things.

I don't even know what to do anymore; I invest pretty much the entirety of my day either applying to jobs, or keeping my skills up to date with personal projects or research. I've done well in the stock market and managed to keep myself alive for the past decade, but now I'm getting suicidal urges. I live in a place where it gets down to -40 in the wintertime so I was considering driving out to the middle of nowhere, taking a bottle of my sedatives drinking, and going for a walk (essentially freezing myself to death), yet every time I think of doing that, just for a moment, I imagine that if I only wait a few more days, some employer will pick up the phone and interview me for one of many positions they advertise that I'm eminently qualified for.

Does anyone have any advice? My life has basically been ruined. I rarely get interviews, and they tell me, "you're too smart to work here", or they see that 10 year gap on my resume and basically think I'm some sort of loser even though I graduated in the midst of a recession in the industry and never got a chance.

Please, I need some help... Everyone who cares about me is basically at a loss, or they just offer useless platitudes like "isn't Google hiring", or "you just need to apply more". I already have 2 drawers of my filing cabinet full of job applications, and nothing to show for it.

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I was out of work for over two years last time I got laid off. Theres no easy way to get work in this economy. All I can suggest is to keep trying, and to think of creative ways to apply any skills you have towards odd jobs or a small business to keep yourself going. I did everything from electrical work to building decks and installing windows. Whatever paid money.

Maybe dumb down your resume? Or find a way to convey the message youre willing to take anything without any hard feelings later on (which is really hard I know it). You walk a tight line working for a company when youre overskilled and underpaid. They may want you to do things and not pay you what those skills are worth. Do you hold back that knowledge or not?

As far as medications, if I ever wind up in that position again the first thing Im doing is switching to some old TCAs before my health insurance runs out, so that I can afford older cheaper meds out of pocket.

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Hi,

(I'm not sure how 'being white' is a credential for a job, but I'll ignore that casual remark...)

If, after ten years, you've not had any luck with your approach, it's time to change it. I've been out of work long term before, and it means having to adapt to the current job market and what people are hiring for. If engineering and computers are dead, they're dead, you need to diversify. It may be time to requalify or gain experience in another more employable field. Even if you can't afford to requalify, even interning or volunteering can get you skills and fill a gap on your CV, give you a good reference and keep you busy. There is no use trying to get a a job in a field that isn't hiring, even if that is where your skill set is.

It's also worth finding a relative or friend who has got work and get them to look over your resume, to see if there is anything glaring that is putting employers off. The resume I sent out in 2001 for jobs differs in format and style to the one I send out now, Times change and approaches need to change, including your resume. If there are employment coaches or recruitment agencies in your area, they may be able to look over your resume and help restructure it.

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Theres always a hot 'segment' of the economy. It was information tech not long ago. then it was government work.. now it seems to be health services. But I think that will pass as well once people cant afford it.

Sometimes I think about just opting out of the system entirely, but its hard to do.

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I can't offer much wisdom in the way of your field, MarkP. But I can empathize with you. I graduated from nursing school as a Registered Nurse in 2010 and I have no job history in the past 10 years due to staying home with my children and helping my X get his business off the ground ( He is an engineer and owns his own firm now in DC). I can understand the crappy feelings that come along with your struggle in finding employment in the field. Although I can't begin to compete with a 2001 time frame, just know I feel your pain. I will not tell you something will "open up", or something will "come along". I hate hearing that from my friends because they don't understand how my MI just doesn't see the silver lining. HR/Recruiters see my resume and draws their own conclusions about what I've been doing since 1999 (my last job), I'm sure.

I am so sorry that you are feeling discouraged. Please hold on. You just have to.

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I work in an engineering / scientific field so if you want to PM your resume to me, I'd be happy to look it over.

It sucks to be out of work and looking for a job. When asked about the multi-year breaks on my resume my response is that I was home taking care of an ill family member. I just don't tell them that the family member was me, staying at home and having terrible and lengthy depressive episodes.

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I am considering majoring in computer science too so I can do web development. I was worried a lot about job prospects in this field, though, so I looked around at lots of different types of jobs in different fields to see if there was a better choice for me. I couldn't find many jobs in demand that I would actually enjoy. most of them sounded uninteresting to me except the jobs that either didn't pay enough, or weren't in much demand. If you absolutely have to go back to school/college to be able to get a job, you could use one of my ideas:

Become a nurse, work 12 hour shifts in the emergency room for 3 days a week (this counts as full time) and then start a business doing what you really want on the side. If you can't afford to get another bachelors without racking up too much debt at once, you could start out at a CNA (certified nursing assistant). They don't make much, but the training can be completed in a few months and they make more than minimum wage. also, it looks good on a resume for a nurse later. Work while in school until you are qualified to become an LPN (licensed practicing nurse) (takes 2 years I think, maybe longer if you don't have time to go to college full time). Then do the same thing, but work part time and go to college part time until you get a bachelors and can become an RN (registered nurse). Each of these steps pays more than the last. If you still want to make money, keep doing that, and work on becoming a PA (physicians assistant). Many people in the medical field can find jobs with flexible hours as long as they're not a physician that has to be there all the time. Also, PAs don't make as much as physicians, but they do make a bit, and they have less liability.

I considered doing either that or sonography and working on what I really wanted to be doing on the side with my own business. Then even if I failed in business or didn't do well some of the time, I wouldn't have to worry as much because I would have another source of income.

I talked to career counselors trying to figure out what job out of thousands of jobs that would suit me. Most people don't recommend going into a career just for money or just because it's the only thing in demand and told me I shouldn't, so I wasn't sure what to do. Lots of things sound interesting, but nothing that pays much or is in high demand. I eventually just decided to do computer science for web development anyway, but occasionally I still wonder if that's the right choice. There seems to be job offerings available on websites like dice.com and I figured maybe if I can't find someone to hire me I will live with my parents if they can still support me until I successfully get my own business started, which hopefully will work somehow.

Also, another career you could consider with your tech background is either a network systems analyst (less continued college education required for this route and the job is projected to grow a lot, but pays less than other options). I hear network systems analysis isn't too hard and pays well for the hours from other people who have done it. You could probably do this and some freelance programming on the side or work consulting jobs on the side.

Another option if you decide to get more education is, you could look into getting a masters or bachelors in biomedical engineering. I'm not sure if this would be as valid of an option as the other things I mentioned because mostly they like people with a bachelors in BME specifically, but biomedical engineering is in high demand and they like people with computer science skills. Computer science is a popular BME minor. BME jobs are projected to be the fastest growing job in the economy according to the occupational outlook handbook. (yes, even faster than nursing or network systems analysis. I think it was over 70% last I checked.) I hear BME is very difficult, though, but it pays well and you seem very smart.

If you don't want to get more education, maybe you don't need to have a full time job. My dad does consulting as an electrical engineer and makes some money doing that when he can't find a full time job. Have you looked into consulting? I would guess so if you've been looking so hard for so long, but thought it might be worth mentioning just in case.

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Unfortunately, as you probably already know, 2010 was not a good year for programmers, especially start-ups.

DH actually is a chemist, he used to work for a generics pharmaceutical company. He has a degree in physics, too, so that helps. But has been teaching himself to program since he was a little boy. He lost his chemist's position when he lost his license because of seizures, and couldn't get to work, so he was out of work for a year, and taught himself Java.

Anyway, the point of this long story is that the way he got people's attention was he made websites with cool applets and UI examples, and included the URLs on his resume. His "Big Calculator" is now being used (with his permission, he is pro open-source) by various schools and websites. The one I linked to was not his original site, which are gone, but his applet is incorporated (he is credited below).

That is actually one of his less cool ones, but it is the one that everyone wants to use. He also has some more mathematically based models. He also has another calculator that can identify handwritten numbers, a neural net UI, where you can drag around a net-like thing with your cursor (you can tell I am not a programmer myself), and a few others. We know for a fact that at least two of his jobs considered the applets when they hired him.

But yeah, with a 10 year work gap, school is a good option.

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