Gary Buss
March 17, 2016

Get out of bed. You’ll feel better.

Every morning for five months, when my alarm went off and I felt like pushing snooze for the rest of the day, I read those words I had written to myself on a yellow Post-it note. It was a reminder not to give up.

By mutual agreement, I left my job at SiriusXM in February 2015. I was in my 50s, single and out of work, and haunted by the countless news stories I had read about how hard it was for older women to find employment. I was Lisa G., I’d remind myself. I had spent ten years of my career working as a reporter for Howard Stern, the greatest radio broadcaster in the world, in my unbiased opinion. I had paid my dues, earned my cred. I had even won a Billboard Air Personality of the Year award.

Surely, I would be able to land another great job. I had to. I didn’t have a spouse to cover my rent, and I worried how long my savings would last.

I signed onto Wunderlist, a great app for keeping track of phone calls, emails and appointments. I contacted everyone I knew, wanted to know or thought I knew. I made phone calls and set up meetings and interviews.

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Nearly five months and more than 80 interviews later, there I was, still jobless—and beginning to lose heart.

Can you think virally?
During one of my first job interviews, with a company targeting the 18-to-24 crowd, they asked me if I had any ideas for viral videos, as if there were some formula guaranteeing a million hits.

I summoned my morning radio flying-without-a-net experience and quickly pitched: “What if we got a bunch of cool kids to sip soda and then burp along to their favorite song?” I was so proud of myself. How hysterical would that be? I could see the tweets flying.

They looked at me, horrified, and politely told me they were a conservative company and that I just wasn’t the right fit. I had thought my edge and fearlessness would be an asset. Now I wasn’t so sure.

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Too much experience
Then there were jobs for which I was absurdly overqualified. I was hopeful about an opening I had heard about in June, but when the top consulting executive producer told me the producer shift started at 1:00 a.m., I laughed out loud. I didn’t have to work those hours even at age 17 as a radio news intern at WLIR-FM on Long Island. I was not going to start now.

Still, months into a search, I had to admit I wasn’t any closer to finding a job. Executives were nice to me. Some even took me out to lunch, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. I also had uploaded resumes to job-search sites and heard nothing. They were like faulty vending machines that stole your money and refused to give you the bag of chips you so desperately craved. I sent dozens of resumes into the ether and wondered if they somehow ended up in Russia with some guy laughing at me for thinking my interviews with Tupac, Bradley Cooper, and Tiger Woods’s mistresses made me a big deal.

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As a journalist, I had covered 9/11, city blizzards, and a presidential inauguration. I wasn’t someone to be ignored, and yet that’s exactly what was happening. Despite knowing how to break through the clutter on the radio airwaves, my words and experience were falling on deaf ears. The human resources officers who were reviewing my resume didn’t care who I was or that I had a history of winning ratings.

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