My Meeting with the Unemployment People

Two weeks ago, I received a letter from the EDD, telling me that I had an appointment to go in and talk to someone about my job search. On the back of the letter was a worksheet for me to fill in the information for six jobs that I had applied to within the last few weeks.

I’ve never had to make an in-person appearance at the EDD. I was a little nervous. I immediately got to work, sending in my resumé to the most recent postings on the UTA job list. I knew I was unqualified for five out of the six jobs that I applied for. But, remembering my previous experience with the UTA job list, I knew it was unlikely that I’d get an interview, much less an actual job offer.

(This isn’t a knock against the job list. It’s a great job list. But my experience is in production, and there aren’t any production listings in the UTA job list. Why would they call me – PA extraordinaire – when they can call someone with more recent agency experience?)

The day of my appointment, I drove down to the EDD office in Marina Del Rey. I wore a dress shirt, pants, and shoes. When I got there, I realized that I was over-dressed. Oh well.

Debated going with a full-on suit. Glad I didn't.

When I signed in, I noticed that a majority of the people there were from my zip code. My theory is that the EDD targets areas randomly. (Or it’s possible that my neighborhood has a disproportionately high number of unemployed actors and PAs.)

I waited for thirty-two minutes before my name was called. Here is the complete transcript of my interview:

EDD: What field are you in?
TAPA: Film production.
EDD: Oh. This should be quick. How has your job search been going?
TAPA: Slowly. There’s not a lot of work out there, since it’s so early in the year.
EDD: Does that have to do with pilot season?
TAPA: Sort of.
EDD: Do you have any questions for me?
EDD: Great. Well, we’re done. I’ll validate your parking.

The whole exchange took one minute. I suppose I should be happy that it was so painless. But part of me is still pissed that they made me go down there in the first place.

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2 Responses

  1. It sounds like a filtering mechanism more than anything else — if you show up for the interview, fine, but if not, they invalidate your claim and save the state some money. Last I heard, California was borrowing something like $40 million/week from the Feds to fund an overwhelmed unemployment system — and with no end in sight to this borrowing, the EDD has every incentive to cull the herd whenever possible.

    That said, don’t assume every interview will be so painless. A few years ago the EDD put a friend of mine — a Local 600 camera assistant — on the grill for a very long afternoon. After the interview, he had to attend a counseling session wherein he and a group of fellow EDD hostages were encouraged (and instructed how) to choose another career. He thought about blowing this circus off, but was warned he’d then lose his weekly benefits.

    Of course, this was well before the Great Recession, back when the notion of finding a job in another field was still a viable alternative.

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