Confessions of the Unemployed
I have two friends, one is 40 yrs, a former upper manager for a large IT firm, and an older guy, 55 yrs, a Network Administrator. Both well educated and until the past year, were always employed for the most part. Within three months of one another, both lost there near six figure income. That was about a year ago.
Luckily, both have spouses that now are only wage earners so there has been no loss of homes, just a lot of self-esteem and pride. What most employed persons cannot comprehend is what it is like to be not working for a year and how your home becomes a refuge and prison. When I ask them, "out of work for a year, how?" or " What do you do everyday"? "are you sure you cannot find some shit job just to keep busy?" "what about retraining, is this an option?" I get very similar responses.
Both men, although are years apart in age, face identical issues about their future. Both guys have now exhausted their life support-unemployment checks, which for each, came to around 2K a month, which was a third or fourth of what they usually earned in a month. From now on, they live off their savings and spouses. Both have kids.
Out of Work for a Year?
That still is a mind blower to each. Its like-incomprehensible to them and others. How can well educated men, with good work records and known firms NOT be working? As they tell me, when they think back, at first, the unemployment was viewed as an "unexpected" vacation. Both felt confident that after a month, they would be working again. So, both focused on chores or plans to do that were always on the back burner. So, one finally made a trip back east to visit old friends and family-something he does not regret. The other, built things around the house, played the , Mr. Mom role, and just relaxed. Both did some casual job hunting, both tried to stay within a decent commute distance.
Time flies. Both men are still shocked that 12 months have passed and both remain absolutely nowhere. Both try to analyze the situation and create a game plan. Both networked with colleagues and associates ad nauseum, both use www.linkedin.com and out resumes to jobs found on www.Dice.com, www.HotJobs.com, www.CareerBuilder.com, www.Monster.com and sure, yeah, jobs are there--just not very local or within a commuter range, those gigs are in other cities or states, which each sought to avoid like a plague. However, in the back of their minds, they thought they could have been working had they been willing to leave their family and live separate lives. In a sense, they both were willing to stay unemployed in hopes of finding something local, meaning, within a 1.5 hr commute one way. Even that, while doable, was not appealing.
So, both men continue the job hunt. I hear the same stories from each. From he older guy, I hear suspicions of age discrimination as many of his interviews have been with much younger managers, difficulty in deciding whether a return to retraining or school for "yet another degree" will change anything because after all, he is an "older" worker. He is way to early to retire and can only survive so long on his savings. Seems like millions are retraining also, so would a debt of $20-30K for a new skill or degree be a good investment? From the younger guy, the age thingy is not there, although he use to be a manager where he did have much older candidates. And, yes, he has plead guilty of age discrimination in the past, when skill levels were between the applicants were similar, he tended to choose someone around his age (40) or younger because "I was more comfortable with people around my age" and "It was weird being a superior to someone who could be your Dad". For the younger guy, his complaint is competition is so fierce, 100 applicants for 3 jobs. This makes for very VERY picky employers seeking a perfect candidate. He told me, despite his efforts in applying for jobs online and in person\follow ups, he has been able to only secure 5 interviews in 12 months! Like the older guy, he is now thinking retooling or training, but what field? Will it pay off? If it doesn't, then his situation is exacerbated by more unneeded debt owed.
Both men feel the whole unemployment dilemma is a vicious spiral that slowly wears its participants ego and self-esteem down and down and down.
See Part two.