Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tears From a Student

I had a story out earlier in which we trained a student and her OPT was expiring and we were unable to find her a job in time, and she was forced to switch back to H4 and how she was crying when she was telling me.  This hurt me a lot during that time, and even though 95% of that batch got placed, I still felt like a failure since I had failed her.

I am happy to report that I was finally able to place her in a large company and that company has applied for her H1 from H4.  Currently there is a RFE (Request for Evidence) on the case, but for a company with 1000's of employees the RFE will not be an issue and she will be working soon.  (She did get her H1B and is currently working in NJ)

I may have failed her initially, but I never forgot about her and I finally did succeed with her.  We had a party in our house recently and I was very happy when she had asked her husband to take a picture of her and I together.

Yes, OK I admit it, I am making money by placing her, but that was unimportant to me.  I just wanted to see her succeed, and she is well on her way to a successful career.

Congrats my dear friend, I am crazy happy for you.

Health Scare

I have not been diligent in updating the company blog.  I had this cough for 4 months that could not be diagnosed and I was sure that I had cancer or maybe worse.  I have been very negligent and I can say that I am sorry.

The initial diagnosis is that it is not cancer, but they are still unsure why I have this cough and they are currently culturing the biopsy of the lymph nodes that they took out of me during the biopsy.  We will have an answer by December 15th apparently.

Follow Up - (This ending up being nothing.  I took Steroids for 9 days and the cough was gone.  The final diagnosis was inconclusive)

Success in November

This year November has been one of the best months for placements for us.  October was actually kind of slow, but November has been spectacular and based on the number of interviews I have setup in the upcoming weeks, I think that December will be great like it was last year.

In my current batch of students I have noticed a few things.

Kids that are successful do the below:

1) Even when my kids were not getting interview calls, they kept on studying in our classrooms
2) They would watch our class videos over and over again and practice on the server
3) They would be on the Developer Network constantly reading others peoples issues and the solutions that are posted.
4) They will keep interacting with the teacher and pose lots of questions and keep learning.  The really talented students will even give topics that want taught and the teachers always accommodate them.
5) They keep a positive attitude

I know these things are simple and seem almost quaint, but all the above make a big difference when we are marketing our students.  If you are one of my students and you have not gotten a job yet, you follow the principles by the successful students and you too will be placed soon.

Email From Farhan Shaikh

I got the below email from a prospective student:  (I wanted to write a comment on this letter for a long time, and I had some free time today, so I thought that I would comment on this exchange.)

From: Farhan Shaikh []
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2011 5:09 PM

hey Vijay,
are you providing free traning for SAP FICO?
i have a degree in accounting and looking for free traning in michigan area
i live in windsor (Canada ) ... please let me know
I wrote back:
On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 11:30 AM, VXL Training <> wrote:

When did you finish your master's degree?

Vijay Madala

From: Farhan Shaikh []
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2011 11:50 PM
To: VXL Training
Subject: Re:

you fuckin suck.. you make other feel like as if your top of line school and hire the top instructors and yet you are looking for instructors on miindia..
you can keep your fuckin ego and shove it in your u know what

no i don't have a masters degree 
My Blog Entry for this email:
Ok so you got a history of the email between this student and I and there was also a phone call from him in which I talked to him.

Before I take students into training, I have to be able evaluate somebody quickly, weather it is via email or phone call.  So let us assume that you are me in this situation and this student wrote this email to you.  How do you evaluate him?

Here is my evaluation of this student:

He is not detailed orientated.  Notice in his first email and here are the errors I found in an instant, without even trying to find the mistake:

1) Capitalization and punctuation is horrible
2) Training is misspelled twice.
3) Michigan is not capitalized.
4) i should be capitalized and it is not in multiple places.
4) Heading on the email is Hey Vijay.  This is simply not how you address someone when you are emailing for the first time.

Even then I wanted to see if he had a Masters Degree to give him the benefit of the doubt to see how much of a drive he had.  He did not, so there is no way that I can take him into the training.

His caricaturization of my looking for teachers on is absolutely correct.  I am always looking to find the best teachers in the subjects that I offer.  I look on because I want to teach all my classes Live, and not online unless that is the only option I have.  To say that somehow finding teachers locally means that we do not offer good quality teachers or training is absolutely wrong.  I would say that my ABAP, FICO and SD class are in the top 5 in the entire world.  My teachers have been with me for years in these subjects and we have perfected the training for the subjects so that our students are well prepared for success when they leave us.

I would like you to find one student that has finished one of my classes that can say that he was not happy.  Find me one, not two, but one student.  You will be unable to find one.

I do not say things lightly.  If I say something then you know that I absolutely believe it to be true.  I spend an extraordinary amount of money on my training program, because I want my kids to succeed after they finish with me.  That is simply how I operate.  Money is not important to me, but I do strive to be the best in almost anything I do, and anyone that comes to my classes will see that.

So the final analysis I am very happy that I did not take the above student into our training.  He is not someone that would have succeeded and was simply looking for a free handout.  I have seen these types of students frequently and these are the same ones that do not do the work and then still expect success and will blame everybody else for their failure.

Thank goodness I was able to avoid him.  He would have caused me countless headaches.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why are People Not Beating Down My Door?

If someone promised to train you and place you with a first year salary of $56,000 and a second year salary in the $80,000 range plus benefits in this job market, you would guess that I would have people lining up at my door from morning to night and I would have to hire a few bouncers to keep control of the crowd.

Well I can report that I currently have about 30-40 students in training and I have a nice manageable number of trainees.

I think that the simple answer on why I have not been overwhelmed with crowds is that, what I offer and do, sound to good to be true.  Our parents have warned us that if it sounds too good to be true, then it cannot be true and I think that is the reason why I not beating people off with a stick.

In a way I am glad that I am not overwhelmed with crowds.  I would have a hard time turning people away when they come to me for help.

I wrote the below letter to be published in the Detroit Telugu Association Newsletter, I am not sure how many changes they will make before it is published, but the below is the full original letter that I have sent to them to get published.

I have been reading about all the unemployed in the Detroit area and I wanted to make sure that anybody that wanted to work is working.  I just wanted to point out that the Information Technology market place is red hot.

All these consulting companies in Detroit are a real asset to our community.  Most of the consulting companies are teaching cutting edge technologies, and if any of you are decently smart and are unemployed or underemployed then you really need to attend an IT training course and get placed.  I know that it sounds almost unbelievable the capabilities these companies have, but I absolutely promise you that it is true.

In the last one year, VXL Training has trained unemployed Americans, Green Card Holders, Masters Students, and Housewives and placed them all.  We have placed close to 100 people that were not working before.  I do not think that we are special or unique; I think you will find most consulting companies would provide you with similar stories.

The training is typically FREE for recent Masters Gradates, but for the rest the cost is typically $1000-$2500 and it may sound like a steep price to get trained, but this is a very small price to pay to start on the first step of a career.

I own VXL Training and I have seen how successful we have been in helping people, and I just wanted to let our community know our capabilities so that we can help others in our community succeed.

My own sister’s son had graduated with a communications degree and I was asking him to come to VXL Training for a long time, so that I could train him and place him into a career.  But he chose to not believe in our capability and tried to land a job on his own.  For one year he applied for every job possible with absolutely no luck.  Finally when he felt he had tried everything and was left with no more options he finally came to VXL Training.  It has been exactly 90 days from the day he landed in Detroit and I am happy to say that we have placed him as a Business Analyst at a Fortune 50 company.  The person that came to me 90 days back was an unemployed American with no special skill sets to set him apart in the market place, the person that left us is now very confident and knows that he can get a job as a Business Analyst anytime he wants.

I get so many people question why we are more successful in training and placing students then colleges.  The answer is a combination of factors, but generally:

1)      Job Focused Training
2)      Intensive Hands On Practice
3)      Interview Preparation
4)      Market Driven Training – We only teach what is in Demand

If you have any questions, please email or call me and I would be happy to try and help you.

Vijay Madala

Monday, July 25, 2011

Email Scam by somebody

Below is the email that somebody got from a Gmail email ID, perpetrating that they were from VXL Inc.

Not sure what this is all about, but I would guess they would ask for money to confirm a job.  I really train and place people and I would never ask for money to confirm a job for someone.

Based on the language it seems like it is from someone overseas with English as a second language.  The letter is very poorly written.

So, fair warning to everyone, I would not ask people money to confirm a job for you.

The e-mail listed below was sent to me regarding a position with your company.  As you can see, the perpetrator is using gmail and yahoo not a valid VXI Training.

-------- Original Message --------
From: Steven Anthony <>
Date: Mon, July 25, 2011 7:24 am
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Dear Applicant.

                 The Human Resources of ( VXL Inc Company ) has reviewed your Resume, due to your Resume information you have the required qualifications to proceed. There is an Organized Training Program for hired Applicant, and the working hours are flexible, this position is available for Full-Time and Part-Time Candidate and the Pay Scale is negotiable starting with $32.50/hour to $67.16/hour depending upon skill level. Medical and retirement benefits.

        Following our newest online screening  introduced by Better Business Burea , you are required to setup a yahoo messenger account if you don't have one and add up Mrs Brittany Paris the Hiring Manager on her yahoo IM ( to your yahoo messenger list for the Job Interview and comprehensive job details. This is our first  step to proceed further she will be expecting to hear from you soon.

Kind regards
Human resources
(VXL Inc, online)

Sisters Son - SUCCESS!!

I wrote about my sisters son a while back and how he used to scoff at me and what I did, and he did not really believe that what we do was possible.  He was unemployed for one year and could not find a job after graduating from college.  He finally came to me after one year.

Guess what?

Well I am now happy to report that he has finally landed a job.  He just got the offer today and we will be getting his contract signed in the next 2 days and he will be starting work from next Monday. (Contract is signed and he is all set to go)

Congrats to the whole team.  It took 2-3 weeks longer than I expected, but that is OK,  What is a few extra weeks, when we are starting someone on a lifetime of success.

It is always nice when you have finished training at VXL and are just interviewing, because I insist on continuous training.  So while he was interviewing for jobs, my sisters son has been learning, QA, Healthcare Domain Skills and other skills.

I just thought that I would report the good news, just in case all my readers wanted a conclusion to that story.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Waiting for Feedback

This week I was on pins and needles waiting for feedback from 6 interviews of our students.  There has been no negative feedback, but then no positive feedback either.

Sometimes the hardest thing in life is just sitting around waiting for news.

Not sure why, I have seen weeks where we have 4-5 placements with competing offers for the same consultants and then some weeks, nothing.  The nothing weeks are the tough weeks, you wonder what you are doing wrong?  You wonder what else you need to teach?  You keep going over the process flow to see where improvements can be made?

Oh well, I will keep sitting on the pins and needles and just waiting.

This Really Happened - What would you do?

One of my consultants was on her way to the airport in a taxi and the taxi got hit by another car.  The other car did not stop so the taxi guy started chasing the car that hit him.  He caught the other car after the chase and the two started fighting and hitting each other.

My consultant locked herself in the car and called the police.  The police came and found on a gun on one of the guys and arrested both of the drivers of the car.

A very scary incident for sure.  I felt that she handled it beautifully.  What would you have done?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My student taught me a valuable lesson

We had a student that we trained and she got a job on the very first interview (This has happened only once before).  The usual is that a student will fail his first 3 interviews and then about 75% of the kids succeed in one of the next 3 interviews.

I was amazed by her amazing success and asked her how she had succeeded and could she please share her advice to the rest of the batch so that they could succeed also. 

3 paragraphs here has been redacted in this story. 

My students feel like they are competing against others for jobs and they do not want my advice to go to competitors for them when they are interviewing.  So sorry, my students come first to me over outsiders, so for their piece of mind and benefit, I have redacted the 3 paragraphs that were here before.

Yes, I am always willing to learn.  I never say that I have all the answers.  I strive to keep improving, because my success is so intertwined in the success of my students.

Training for a Better Future, yes that is our motto and I really mean it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Difference Between Success and Failure

This past week we had very different outcome with two of our students.  Both were master’s graduates, both seemed motivated, both attended every class.

Sindu (Name changed) got a job this past week and Saran has given up completely and is going back into his original field of Mechanical Engineering.

What are the habits of the successful student and the unsuccessful student?

Successful Candidate:

1) Scared of failure!
2) Worked 8-10 hours a day
3) Redacted for the benefit of my current students - On their request.
4) Redacted for the benefit of my current students - On their request.
5) Worked every day, because she said that the material is volatile and she did not want to forget it
6) Sat in on the 2nd SAP SD class, even after completing the first class
7) Even after getting the job she will sit with the teacher and get ready for her project by being as through as possible and covering what the client is doing currently.

Failure Candidate:

1) He did attend every class, but would sit like a log and never asked questions
2) He claims that he worked 2-3 hours a day, but my guess is that he worked 1 hour a day at most
3) He needed money so he was working at T-Mobile as a sales rep to make money while he was studying with us.
4) Never asked for the online video classes that we have available.

To me the basis idea of success and failure was very simple.  You MUST work 8-10 hours a day on the subject you are trying to master.  You MUST NOT be working at another job while trying to master something else that you want to work in.

You MUST be scared of failure and work so hard that you are bound to succeed.  You MUST, LIVE, DRINK, EAT, and DREAM only about the subject you are leaning from us.  You must be engrossed in the subject and nothing else.  Nothing else should matter to you.

So what is the difference between success and failure, as far as financially?  Sindu is billing in the low 3 figures per hour and in the second year she will make around $150,000 per year.  Saran, the failure, so far has experience as a T-Mobile sales rep and his future is still undetermined.

That is the difference between success and failure.

So, yes even with all our hard work and support that we provide we still only have a 90% success rate, and you can never tell who will succeed and who will not.  But to ensure your success, follow the example of people that have succeeded.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Zachary Roth and The Lookout Report

I was reading an article by Zachary Roth in the The Lookout and he gave examples of unemployed Americans and what they had to say.

I read the article and saw all the people that I could help easily.  All of you guys need real technical skills.  Employers want to hire Americans badly, I see it when we are marketing our students.  If you had the right technical skill set guys, you would not be unemployed.  The market place currently requires you to be mobile and have the ability to learn and adapt quickly.

I have one kid that I have been training and he has a house that is worth $15,000 and if currently working on fixing it.  He says that he only wants a job in Detroit.  We can easily get him a job on the east coast and trying to get him a job in Detroit had a 5% probability, but he would rather stay unemployed and in Detroit then to move where the job is.  Stuff like this is highly frustrating, but I do the best I can and hopefully the circumstance will change so that my student is willing to leave Detroit.

Below is the full article:

You can read all the stats you want on America's long-term jobless crisis. More than 6.3 million Americans have been out of work for more than half a year. The average jobless stint now lasts longer than nine months. We could go on.

But no facts or figures bring home the grim human dimension of this epidemic better than an account we received from an unemployed Iraq War veteran. "I have led men in combat, but my last job was a temporary cashier position in the women's department at Nordstrom's," he wrote. "I don't get many interviews, but when I do, I get a lot of handshakes and a 'Thank you for your service, but you're not what we're looking for.'"

Nor can they top this description from a reader of what it's like to go for months searching fruitlessly for work: "You start to hear a voice in your head that tells you, 'Perhaps you're just not good enough.'"
When we asked readers recently to share their personal stories of being out of work for an extended period, we expected to get a lot of responses. But we didn't foresee the flood that ensued. "I imagine that you will have to hire more staff to wade through all the emails you get in response to this article," one reader wrote. It turned out she was right: That's exactly what we did.

The thousands of anecdotes you sent us offer a heart-rending glimpse inside the reality of long-term joblessness during the Great Recession and its aftermath. They convey sadness, anxiety, anger, shame, and despair, but sometimes also humor, generosity, and a quintessentially American determination to roll with the punches. And they offer a portrait of out-of-work people who are smart, articulate, motivated, and resilient--a useful corrective to some of the negative stereotypes that too often shape perceptions of this huge group of Americans.

We want to thank all the thousands of readers who took the time to share their personal stories. For reasons of space, we can only publish here a fraction of the number we'd like to. So we've set up a separate website, "Down But Not Out," to showcase many more in full. [ Click here for readers' own tales of long-term joblessness at "Down But Not Out.""]

Meanwhile, here at the The Lookout, we've picked out portions of a smaller number of the most compelling responses, and organized them around some of the major themes that readers highlighted--from accounts of how they lost their job in the first place, to the emotional toll that being without work for so long can take, to the rare and unexpected silver linings that some respondents discovered.

How it all Began: "When the economy imploded in 2009, nobody was building anything"

Many readers described how they first became jobless, with tales that often seemed ripped from the bleak headlines of the last few years--taking in everything from the mortgage meltdown to the housing bust to government budget cuts.

• George C. from Brea, Calif., told us he worked for a bank that had a division that made sub-prime loans. After the housing bust hit, "the federal government ordered the company to cease & desist from all sub-prime operations, because they didn't like banks that were also sub-prime mortgage companies, so that division of the company was shut down," George wrote. Ultimately, the other divisions of the bank were sold, "at which time there was no more work for me to do."

• "I was a steel building detailer with just over 14 years of experience," Tom W. from New Haven, Ind., told us. "When the economy imploded in 2009, nobody was building anything. With no work, my employer was forced to lay off everyone."

•  Shannon B., a teacher and school administrator from Phelan, Calif., wrote that she lost her job in February 2009. "When the budget slashes hit, my position was the first to go."

• Jerry, from southern California, told us he had worked in the electrical distribution industry for more than 25 years. "I lost my job in August of 2008 when the housing bubble and second Great Depression were hitting hard. The branch I worked in closed, since the industry relies heavily on new construction."

• "I never saw being let go coming," wrote Elizabeth M., who worked at an educational center. "I simply showed up less and less on the work schedule. Then, after 2 weeks of not appearing at all, I received a voice mail via my cell phone that informed me they were actually letting me go. (Whatever happened to telling someone to their face?)"

The Emotional Toll: "I hide my emotions, but deep down I feel I am dying off"

Your tales of losing long-held jobs--often with minimal advance notice or human consideration--were bracing. But more compelling still were the numerous accounts of how long-term joblessness has affected you personally and psychologically.

• Perhaps no testimony was bleaker than a note we received from Peter K., who said he used to be a middle manager making over $100,000 a year. His life now? "Stay up too late at night and sleep too long in the morning. Drink way too much … stare at the computer screen, stare out the window, stare at your image in the mirror, stare at the ceiling fan … Social life--none. I'm no fun. Sex--none. Women would sooner hear you have Hepatitis then learn you're unemployed … Depressed--big time. Think suicide every day."

• Scott V. told us that when his money began to run out and he didn't know how he was going to feed his children, he had the same thought. "To be extremely honest I thought of taking the easy way out, which probably many people have. I read an internet article a couple of weeks ago about some 22 (?) year old ending her life because she had no job and too many bills that she couldn't handle. Of course I didn't do that, because I consider myself a strong person and I have a lot to live for."

• "Most of the time you can barely get out of bed because you worry so much about your future," wrote Todd L. of Houston, Tex. "I feel so behind, especially when talking to my peers. Several of them have already moved on from their first job to their second one. Many are in long-term relationships, something I know I can never have without a job and financial stability. I feel so ... behind. I have grown much more envious of others lately."

• Stefan K., from South Bend, Ind., told us  he'd been out of work for going on two years. "After a few months pass by, you start to take it personally," he wrote. "You start to hear a voice in your head that tells you, 'Perhaps you're just not good enough.' You know it's not true, but it feels true. You then began to feel ashamed when people, who know of your situation, keep asking if you've found a job yet."

• Paul K. described how both he and his fiancĂ©e--who is also contending with a long-term bout of joblessness--have seen their relationship suffer as a result of their shared plight.  "It's very depressing and has caused many arguments and led to a very unhappy life for us for the last 2-3 years," he wrote. "We now sleep late because we have no money to do anything. Gas costs too much so most days we stay home and just watch TV. It's making me anxious, depressed, and my confidence is all but gone. I pray for a miracle at this point."

• The pain of long-term unemployment doesn't only affect layoff casualties--it's also assailed many first-time entrants into the job market. Jill B. of Jonesboro, Ark. got a master's degree last year, but it didn't help her. "The hardest part of this experience has been having to come home, tail tucked, as a failure," she wrote. "Out of necessity, I am now living with my parents again in a rural, Arkansas town. For financial reasons, I had to leave the thriving job market of Austin, Texas to come back to a place where there are no jobs at all."

• "I hide my emotions, but deep down I feel I am dying off," wrote Jeremy L., from Waupaca, Wisc. "I smile less. Friends don't call me anymore to do things because I can't afford to. I feel like a hermit living under a rock. I feel worthless. I feel like I'm pulling my girlfriend and daughter into a hole with me. Our once loving relationship has turned bitter and sour."

The Financial Strain: "I am scared to death of what lies ahead"

Of course, there's no way to overstate the financial impact of being without a steady income for an extended period. The notes and comments you submitted show the remarkable lengths that some of you have gone just to keep your heads above water.

• A 62-year-old Ohio man, W.M., told us he'd been forced to take contract work in South Carolina and Indiana. "I am the new migrant worker," he wrote. "I get home to see my family when I can. I have about 1/3 less salary and no benefits but I can pay my way."

• Some readers said they were selling their possessions to support themselves. "I have also sold my clothing, many of our belongings, and baby items on Craigslist and in consignment shops," M.N. wrote. "I add oatmeal to many of my dishes to extend the idea of 'beef', as well as buying generics. We've [gotten rid of] all memberships to gyms and cable TV. We are trying to live a more simple life."

• Some have been relying on family or friends. "I am in default for last year's property taxes, and now stand to lose my home of 23 years," wrote Vicki J. of Garland, Tex. "Had it not have been for a friend of mine helping me, I wouldn't have even had electricity or food for the past three months."

• Others are seeking a fresh start. "We can't afford the house payments anymore, but our house lost about 50% of its value, so we can't sell," wrote Shannon B. "We simply cannot live on my husband's salary. We are filing for bankruptcy."

• Judy J. from Catawba, N.C., described paying for groceries with WIC checks--a form of government assistance--and worrying about delaying people behind her in line. "A few times I offered to let someone cut because 'this is going to take a while,'" she wrote. "[B]ut they say, 'No, it's okay. I'm on WIC, too, so I understand.'"

• Karen P. from Maryland told us she had to move back in with her mother at the age of 40, and that her jobless benefits will run out in January. "I am scared to death of what lies ahead," she added. "I have no idea if I will find a job or not."

• And in a harrowing detail that evokes the hardships of an earlier time, M.C. wrote: "My family is eating stir-fried dandelions out of yards to keep from starving."

Trials of the Job Search: "We can't hire any more old people"

Landing a new job in this economy is tough no matter who you are. But when you've already been out of work for so long, it can be even harder.

• We asked whether employers were wary of hiring readers when they found out how long they'd been jobless -- a form of discrimination that appears to have been on the rise lately. "Very much so," replied Susan W. "As if it were my fault I was unemployed, regardless of the fact that I had put out hundreds of resumes and applications."

• Many readers described a daunting level of competition for openings. "In my area, Elkhart County, Ind.., unemployment had gotten so bad that 1200 people applied for 10 openings at one company," wrote Jason G. (Incidentally, if Elkhart rings a bell, that might be because it's where President Obama launched his effort to get the economy moving again almost two and a half years ago.)

• "I applied at one place that literally handed out raffle tickets and the winning 100 tickets were the only ones that got to apply," wrote M.O. "Of course my number wasn't one of them."

• An enormous number of older readers said they think their age is part of the problem for employers. Paula S., from Acworth, Georgia, who said she was "sixty-something," described "two eye-opening experiences of blatant age discrimination . . . . One twenty-something supervisor asked me if I had ever thought about coloring my hair . . . . Another manager told his assistant with the door open when I showed up to complete an application and interview: 'We can't hire any more old people.' "

• Britt S. said he'd tried to transition into another career after getting laid of from his newspaper job. But, "if an employer has a choice between a 27-year-old with a degree and 3 or 4 years of experience and a 57-year-old with the same degree and no experience, who is most likely to get the job?" he asked.

• Even Dan H., a skilled telecommunications technician in Scottsdale, Ariz., who's not exactly long in the tooth, told us he thought his age worked against him. "I do believe that being 37 was a factor in being passed over for jobs," he wrote. "[T]echnology is a young man's game. Potential employers thought I may be rusty with my skills … Trained to an expert level, but no one can afford to hire me."

Tips for Jobseekers: "Any job is a good job"

Many readers who had ultimately landed a job were eager to share what worked for them.

• "Network, network, network.  I can't say it enough," wrote E.S., from San Diego, Calif. "LinkedIn is awesome, but enlist your Facebook contacts, or join a networking group. I know it's horrible to ask your friends to keep their eyes out, but in the end that's how I got hired. When you know someone who knows someone, who can vouch for you, you have a much better chance of getting a job with the company you want/in the field you want."

• Kurt G., from Seattle, Wash., thinks the face-to-face meeting is the key. "It doesn't matter what skills you have, and it doesn't matter what skills the employers say they want," he wrote. "What matters is having the skills that get you through the interview process. Focus like a laser on the interview process. If you're successful there, you'll get an offer, and after that, it's up to the employer to retrain you."

• Susan W. suggested making a nuisance of yourself. "I selected three companies I really wanted to work for, applied and kept going back and going back until they either told me to leave me alone or hired me," she told us. "Two told me to leave them alone, the third hired me."

• Chris C. of Modesto, Calif., had a different strategy: moving into a field traditionally dominated by women -- a trend that's said to be increasingly common for male workers on the job market. "I researched the employment situation where I am living and decided to retrain in something it appeared people would want," he wrote. "After I received my nursing license it took me 3 months to find a full-time job."

• And Cindy S. advised job-seekers not to be too picky. "Don't be afraid to downgrade your expectations," she wrote. "Right now, any job is a good job. When the economy recovers, it will be time to stretch out and seek a job for which you are qualified and paid well for, but right now, income is income."

Solutions to the Crisis: "The vast majority of us are on our own."

A lot of readers had thoughts about how to fix the long-term jobless crisis--or at least how to make things easier for its victims.

• Many respondents lamented the problem of having to compete with cheaper foreign labor. "Make it more difficult to offshore work, or to hire foreign workers at a discount," wrote Kurt G., in a typical comment.

• Yvonne P., from Spring Hill, Tenn. suggested that the government give a "small tax incentive to businesses who hire people who have been unemployed for 6 months or more. Call it, 'Americans Back To Work Tax Break.'" Not a bad idea.

• "There aren't enough resources for retraining, especially of college-educated people," wrote E.S. "The vast majority of us are on our own."

• And Todd L. asked for a little more heart from employers. "I want companies and those who represent them to realize that job applicants and the long-term unemployed are not just resumes in a system," he wrote. "We're real people too. Please treat us like one."

The Unexpected Upside: "We have made some memories that are priceless"

As is no doubt clear by now, the picture that most readers painted of long-term unemployment was overwhelmingly bleak. But that doesn't mean there weren't some respondents who had the strength of mind to also take note of the positives.

• Stephanie B. of Memphis, Tenn., told us she works three part-time jobs and is left on a tighter budget than when she was on jobless benefits. And yet, she wrote: "The one thing that has come out of this experience that I am thankful for and hope I won't ever forget, is the closeness we feel as a family. We can sit down to a checker tournament and play for hours. We can pull out the paper and crayons and create artwork we never had time to do before. There's no more running around nonstop all week long. Most days feel like Saturday when school's out. We entertain ourselves and each other on very little, and I think we have made some memories that are priceless."

• Dan H., who rallied to the challenge of unemployment by working with his wife to start a new business, told us: "If you cannot get a job, make one I guess. In the last year, in order, we've moved for a 'better life' across country, had a child (when we conceived all was good), lost job, had car repo'd, borrowed money from family to get wheels, went on public assistance, cried a river over my manly short comings, was inspired by my wife and am now an entrepreneur. Scary how quick life changes."

• Todd L., too, was able to look on the bright side. "I am blessed to have my family," he wrote. "They support me financially and emotionally … I have become more religious. I pray everyday, asking God for a job and a girlfriend. Does it help? Somewhat. It is better than no religion at all. Most of the time it just makes me feel better. God has given me time and comfort. But I am still waiting for a miracle--a job and a girlfriend."

• And Scott V., who's now working after being jobless for more than two years, told others not to give up. "It does suck, but you can make it," he wrote. "I have been humbled by losing my job almost 3 years ago.  Having ZERO dollars in my bank account and very little cash in my wallet. Without the support of my family and the love of my life, to help me get by, I would not have made it this far. I do thank God for all his good graces he has bestowed upon me, which I know I don't deserve. So whoever is reading this, DO NOT sit around waiting for something to happen, make it happen."

Galen Bernard contributed to this report.