Are You Funemployed?

According to the Los Angeles Times, a new word got added to the English language: “funemployment.”

Never heard of funemployment? Here’s Urban Dictionary’s definition: “The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life. “I spent all day Tuesday at the pool; funemployment rocks!”

I’ve known roommates who took a funemployment while living off their six-month unemployment benefits, enjoying the casual life and not worrying about finding another job until they have to pay bills out of savings. The results weren’t pretty. And that was before the Great Recession.

One roommate tried to find his purpose in life. I told him that would be fine if he upgraded his job skills in preparation to re-enter the job market. He didn’t do that because it wasn’t fun. Six months later, he was unemployable. The computer science degree from 20 years ago carried little weight with obsolete job skills. His purpose became a full-blown mid-life crisis while working as a drug store clerk and living with his parents.

A second roommate was let go from being an assistant stock broker. He cashed out his modest retirement account to become a day trader for six months, easily doubling his money during that time. When he visited his relatives in Florida for six weeks, he left his cash fully invested in high-flying tech stocks and took a vacation from day trading. He came back well rested, tanned and dead broke. The dot com bust sent so many funemployed day traders scurrying back to a real job.

A third roommate was always finding ways to get rich quick without much success. After getting let go from marketing company, he used his funemployment to try many different kinds of multilevel marketing programs. Nothing worked. He eventually moved to the Philippines since the cost of living was lower there, making it easier for him to get rich quicker. His Filipino wife would love for him to return to the United States to get a job here and wire the money back to her.

My approach to unemployment is similar to what this Harvard Business Review blog post advocates: spend a few hours looking for a job and enjoy the rest of the day. My previous job searches always ended after three interviews in six weeks. I spent a lot of time playing “Age of Mythology” on the PC during those six weeks, probably one of the best real-time strategy games that never get old.

Since I was laid off on Friday the 13th this past February, I talked to three recruiters during the first six weeks without getting a new job. (I showed up for one interview to find out that the position was already filled that morning.) The job market went dead after that. Taking a funemployment vacation wasn’t an option for me. As my past roommates have proven, it would be a very stupid thing to do.