It's been over 2 months since my last paying gig. I am getting really good at cranking out job applications.
But here's the thing - transferrable skills still don't match up to the competition who have EXACTLY the experience/training/skill set that organisations are looking for. I have heard this waaay too many times by now.
The ironic thing is too, that this is EXACTLY what looking for an academic job is like.
It's always "Oh, we deemed you appointable, but there was another candidate who matched what we were looking for a little better. We'd like to keep your details on file though, as we thought you were an excellent candidate and you interviewed very well. We'll be in touch if we have other positions come up in the future".
Okey dokey, you do that then. Thanks for calling.
I know what this means from an academic point of view - better "fit", an internal candidate, or someone who is way more senior than you applying for crappy jobs below their rank because they're in the same boat as you (ie unemployed in a crappy market).
I am now convinced that it is exactly the same in the non-academic world too.
Changing careers is not necessarily the answer to the problem of chronic underemployment, but you sure have a lot more options with almost any other career than academia. You don't have to relocate, you don't have to wait 6 months for a rejection letter, and there are a lot more jobs you can apply for. At the end of the day though, the competition is steep because the world is in a recession. It's not the fault of individuals, and no more uptraining/ reskilling, reviewing your resume, thinking positively, etc etc is going to change the fact that there are increasingly more willing workers per job available.
I would also add too that former academics who want a "normal" job are also facing the uphill battle of employer's prejudices and status anxieties. All those people who think along the lines "Oh, if you're an academic you must be so smart" don't always see you as another candidate happy to turn up on time, be agreeable to work colleagues, take initiative, work hard and do what you're told by your boss. All those undergraduates intimidated by their Professors and teachers are the ones who are going to be employing you. They're the ones who have the status anxieties that you have to overcome.