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After 5 months with no job, woman clings to hope

  • Story Highlights
  • Woman laid off five months ago finds that employment is elusive
  • She says online job applications prevent face-to-face impressions
  • Woman cuts back all luxuries, clips coupons to save money
  • "I have hope. That keeps me going," she says
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By John Couwels
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ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- Wendy Sury of Orlando does not watch the news much these days. She asks friends not to talk about the bad economy or who down the street was laid off.

Sury has applied for entry-level to mid-management jobs but gotten no response.

Wendy Sury says many companies want job seekers to apply online, a process she finds impersonal.

"I'm living it," she says of the economic crisis.

Sury was laid off five months ago. As a manager with a life insurance settlement company, Sury was not too worried at first.

Knowing the economy was bad, Sury still believed she would find a job because she has so much to offer a company.

"I had high hopes and dreams and never in my wildest dreams would I imagine being unemployed, let alone unemployed for five months," she says.

In the past two weeks, news only worsened for the Sury family. Her ex-husband and son both lost their jobs. Divorced and the mother of three, Sury had depended on her ex's income to pay the mortgage and bills since she lost her Tell us how you're surviving

Living with Sury is 16-year-old daughter Emma, a junior in high school, and 19-year-old Colin, the only member of the family employed. Sury's 24-year-old son, John, whose wife is expecting their first child, was laid off weeks ago in Port Charlotte, Florida.

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On Mondays, full of hope, Sury begins a week of spending hours at her computer, checking daily employment e-mails and applying for jobs. She applies for entry-level to mid-management positions -- yet no response. Video Watch how one job seeker used billboard »

Most employers require job applicants to apply online, which Sury finds extremely frustrating. She says she believes the process is impersonal. Tell us your job hunt stories

"You can't get in front of a real person, you don't get interviews, you don't get phone calls, you don't get that chance to make that first impression," Sury says.

At a recent job fair, Sury found that the only employers interviewing on site were hiring for minimum wage positions. Other employers refer job seekers to apply on their Web sites.

Sury says she lives in the moment. She has cut back by eliminating all luxuries and downsizing. She eats at home, limits cell phone use, skips the hair salon, shops frugally and leaves the air conditioner off. Every week she goes through the Sunday newspaper, cutting coupons. Are you trimming your budget?

She has asked her ex-husband and son about living together again in the family home. She believes sharing the four-bedroom house would be cheaper than living separately. Video Watch how one family of five thrives on $35,000 »

"We are still a family, and we will do whatever we need to do to stay united in taking care of our children and soon to be granddaughter," Sury says.

Through it all, Sury says she is blessed to have a roof over her head. Yet, by the end of the week, she struggles to fight off depression. She loved playing the piano as a teenager and has gone back to playing. She says it helps release stress.


With the support of friends and family, Sury has hope.

"If I don't have hope, then what do I have? Nothing. So, I have hope. That keeps me going."

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