Lifestyle

50’ish, Fat & Looking for Work

rejection
@EmmNotEmma

It’s been a while since I’ve written here but this chica’s having a tough time. When it rains, it pours, huh? There have been potholes in my road during the last couple of years – thyroid cancer (in remission but with some side effects), finding then losing my biological brother within 6 months and…

I was laid off early this year after working at J. Walter Thompson over 23 years. 23 YEARS!! The decision had nothing to do with me and everything to do with budget cuts after a merger. Dozens of coworkers were also let go. It was a huge shock. Instead of enjoying my severance and taking time off, as some suggested, I immediately updated my resume and began sending it out, completing applications and going on interviews, certain my next job was just around the corner.

Fast forward to now… still unemployed, severance has ended and unemployment benefits are paltry but I’m grateful it’s there. Not surprisingly, my confidence is sorely shaken. Months of rejection can do that, whether it’s resumes and applications that aren’t acknowledged or responses that, in not so many words, say “you’re good but not good enough”. I was even on a short list of candidates for jobs that were either put on hold or outsourced. Not rejections, per se, but it still sucks.

When it stings the most is after an in-person interview which happens after my being impressive via Skype or phone (or, in one case, 1 Skype AND 2 phone interviews). After all, I’m a badass. I know my stuff, with years of experience at a respected agency and people ready to vouch for my qualifications. I’m smart and well-spoken with a keen wit. Plus, I take care to dress in a great outfit and feel amazing.

I didn’t consider that my age and size might be a detriment until I showed up at a major broadcasting company on a humid June day in the middle of a MAJOR hot flash. If you’ve had one, you know how awful it is. It didn’t help that the chairs had arms which dug into my thighs… UGH! But I’d spoken with the department director in the past through my former job (this was our first meeting) so put on my brightest smile and thought the interview went very well. However, that was the last I heard. No call, no correspondence, no consideration of my time. Nada, zip, zilch! To quote Stephanie Tanner from Full House: HOW RUDE!!!!

At another company, I couldn’t help but notice the brief look of surprise on the interviewer’s face when she entered the conference room and spotted me. At least she was courteous enough to later send an email thanking me for my time and letting me know they decided on “moving forward with other candidates for the role”. 

It’s discouraging to admit there are strikes against my employability. Weight discrimination is prevalent. In a recent study, human resources professionals were given photos of 127 people of varying sizes and asked to allocate a profession for each person, from jobs like doctors to other positions like cashier. They “underestimated the occupational prestige of obese individuals and overestimated it for normal-weight individuals.” Fat people are “more often disqualified from being hired and less often nominated for a supervisory position, while non-ethnic normal-weight individuals were favored”.

On the other hand, my skills, talents, intellect, enthusiasm, abilities and work ethic are not easily matched. Some astute hiring manager, hopefully soon, will realize there’s a lot to be said for self-assured maturity even when it comes in a bigger package. To paraphrase Emm Roy, “creator of positive doodles”, “It may be hard to believe after a rejection (or several) but I’m going to do great. I’m good at what I do. I have a lot to offer and I got this.” To quote the late, great George Harrison, “It’s not always going to be this grey. All things must pass.” This, too, will pass. That’s what I need to focus on however difficult things appear. Stay tuned….

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9 thoughts on “50’ish, Fat & Looking for Work

  1. This all sucks. I worried about this during my recent job search. I was also not far out from knee surgery, so I also worried about walking into interviews with a cane. I made the decision to use my folding cane to get me to and from the interviews then stash it in my bag before walking into the building. I want to believe my disability wouldn’t have counted against me in the eyes of interviewers, but size discrimination and ableism are real. I’m pulling for you, my friend, for that right job to come along soon! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As I embark on my own job search (thankfully by choice), I am unconcerned about age, even though friend’s experiences warn me otherwise. But like you, I have once experienced the “once over” that revealed that slight, but detectable surprise to see a fat person. Luckily, it was too late because I was hired and this was an introduction.

    Recently, a highly valuable volunteer/major donor to my organization convinced an org that she supports to create a position that she tailor-made for me. I still have to interview with a group of men (I think women are more judgmental in many cases), and frankly, am slightly concerned. But I believe in myself and my skills, so let the interviewing begin.

    I can sympathize with the lay-off situation, having worked in advertising at one time and being in the same position. Mergers and client losses always signal pink slips. I am so glad that your attitude is good when faced with adversity, and you are correct – a smart hiring manager will see your immense value.

    Network, network, network. Cast the widest net when considering possible employers. Keep that smile flashing and the attitude positive. That is the best advice I can give you. And since you’re in the NYC area, as I am, count me in if you ever want to talk about opportunities, etc…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Starting in 1981, William Esty, then moved on to AC&R/DHB & Bess which was bought by Ted Bates, then swallowed up by Saatchi & Saatchi. Then I moved to publishing. I was an Art Buyer.

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  3. After having a successful phone interview with a young lady at a CPA, the face-to-face 2nd round was last week. I admit noticing her “look over” at my body size and wondered if she was uncomfortable — probably. I was suppose to meet with “the partners” and then told they were too busy to meet and she would make the decision to choose a candidate for the role. I think she already did through bias. Her answer was they would get back to candidates by the end of the month (October). I’d probably get another job by then that’s more suitable for me (and for the employer). It’s disconcerting when people are so prejudiced against weight that they’re overlooking rock star employees. I’m not going to lose 200 pounds in a month and have no plans of changing my body size for any reason, especially to find a job. As they say, it’s their loss – not mine. Keep up the positive vibes Emily, you’re big break (no pun intended) is coming soon!

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