You Do What You Have to Do...and So Do I

posted May 8, 2012, 8:34 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated May 8, 2012, 11:24 AM ]
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to “The Unemployment Chronicles” – mainly because I consider myself employed. Besides, what else was there to say about my current state of being technically unemployed that hadn’t already been touched on in Parts 1-14?

After that 14th part, I had planned on having people submit their unemployment stories to me for posting. I reached out to Talent Zoo and Vault Dot Com for unemployment stories from their readers. None of that panned out. Even onlinecollege.org, who found the chronicles and asked me to post their unemployment reading list, never came through with unemployment stories I had asked for in return for posting their list and promoting their site on my site.

It’s all good. Who wants to be bogged down with those types of stories anyway? Everyone is already nervous about the economy and the job market. Jobs long considered secure are now anything but. Companies want candidates to be experts in everything so they can have them do two and three jobs to protect their bottom line.

And interviewers don’t know how to interview. They know how to ask questions, but they don’t know how to interview. An interview should be geared toward determining if and how a candidate might fit into an organization. It should not be used to filter that candidate out. That’s the way it’s been done for decades, but it’s hardly effective and you lose a lot of great candidates that way. At the end of the interview, a prospective employer should be able to determine what that candidate knows and how’d they fit into the organization.

That was the approach taken by the last boss when he interviewed me. Even though I wound up not liking that job all that much (for a variety of reasons), my interview with that former boss was one of the best I had ever been on.

Unfortunately, it’s an employer’s market and they are more than taking advantage of it. After an interview, a friend of mine was asked to come in to work for a day before a decision would be made about hiring her. That’s not unreasonable. You can only glean so much from an interview. When they day turned into four and she still didn’t have an offer, she put her foot down and quit. There were more factors involved but what that company did was unacceptable. If you wanted a temp, you hire a temp and then determine if you are going to hire that person. Otherwise, people’s time has to be respected. If you can’t determine in one day whether or not to you’re going to hire someone, then you have your answer.

And you should have the decency to provide the candidate with that answer instead of leaving them to wonder. Worse, they follow up with you for days and weeks on end during which time you just pick and choose if and when you’ll respond because you have the job and they have the need so their feelings are irrelevant.

“But we have so many candidates…” Oh please. You know who you’re going to hire as soon as the position becomes available. You’re only going through all this interviewing for legal reasons. Plus, if the half-read resumes don’t jump out at you, they get filed away someplace where no one can find them ever again.

I love digressing…

For the next job opportunity, the hiring company asked the staffing firm to ask my friend if she minded stuff being thrown at her because the owner of the company was often under a lot of stress. 

We had to laugh at that one. She obviously said “no”. She and I are in our early thirties. We know our value. We’re both single and, for the most part, are only responsible for ourselves. We’re holding out for the job we want and deserve. Simple as that.

By holding out, I mean “no one’s interested in what we have to offer anyway”.

None of this, however, has ANYTHING to do with the below article I’m re-posting from Yahoo Finance. It was written by Mandi Woodruff for theBusiness Insider about a man who had been making six figures before the current financial shit show and then wound up taking a job a Starbucks.

 
How a Former Currency Strategist Went From $150K/Year to
Serving Lattes at Starbucks

A few years ago, Kevin Cronan had it all.

At 38, he was bankrolling $100,000/year (plus a $50K bonus) as a currency strategist for a major Boston investment firm and was this close to dropping $35,000 to rub elbows at an ultra-exclusive country club.

Then the recession hit with all the force of a wrecking ball, and he joined 8 million other Americans on the unemployment line.

But with a college diploma, 22 months of severance to rely on and 15 years worth of experience under his belt, he figured he had nothing to worry about. Right?

Wrong.

"I thought, 'I can't believe I'm not gonna find a job before this money runs out','" Cronan told Business Insider. "I started traveling a lot afterward."

But time ticked on, his funds dwindled and the job market showed no signs of improvement.

There were a couple of close calls – he had a promising interview with one firm and found out they laid off a bunch of staff shortly after – but he kept running into the same wall.

"When they do hire, companies are going after people with two years of experience or freshly minted MBA's," Cronan said. "And they're paying them nothing and a lot of people who are mid-career like me, there really is very little out there."

Stumbling down the social ladder

Cronan was used to blowing $200 on swanky steak dinners each week, but the further he sank into unemployment, the more he turned down invites.

"It's hard to maintain contacts because a lot of the social contacts were over meals, cocktails, playing squash and golf," he said. "Money is always a factor."

Instead, he waits around for a good Groupon deal or the occasions when his old haunts offer mid-week specials – and dines solo.

His future on hold

It would have been nice to job hunt with an MBA on his resume, but Cronan was halfway through his studies at Suffolk University when he was laid off. His former employer had been fronting the bill.

And when his savings were all but gone, he made the difficult decision to dip into his 401(k) – a step that's become all too common for America's long-term unemployed.

"I didn't have a choice," he said. "Yes, it's for retirement but it's not gonna do any good if I don't have a place to live and my car gets repossessed."

"I didn't want anyone to see me."

Tax season brought a rather unwelcome surprise for Cronan this year: A $3,000 bill. Unwilling to dip into his retirement savings again, he decided to go where he'd never gone before – the pawnshop.

He came across an online pawn site called Pawntique, where he took out a loan against a multi-thousand-dollar Corum watch. Going the online route was quick and efficient, but the real perk was anonymity:

"I didn't want anyone to see me," he said.

From unemployed to under-employed

By the time his severance ran out, Cronan had to make a move. He walked over to his local Starbucks but didn't ask for his usual order. He wanted a job application.

The pay isn't anything to write home about ($9.70/hr) but he was more interested in their benefit package (medical, dental, vision) than anything else.

To supplement his income, he tends bar for a Boston-area catering company and he's given up using his credit card altogether.

Fighting isolation

There's a reason depression is so prevalent among the unemployed. Beyond the financial strain, there's also the crushing isolation that comes with leaving the workforce.

To cope, Cronan allows himself one luxury – a $189 squash membership.

"It's my largest expense but I refuse to give it up," he said."It gets me out of what could be viewed as an isolated, lonely slump of living in this little suburban town."

Fear for the future

It's not just the meager paycheck that troubles underemployed workers like Cronan. There's that nagging fear that while he's foaming lattes and shaking cocktails, he'll miss his shot at getting back in the game.

"There's a concern I have that there's this negative perception (by employers) of someone who's out of the workforce for so long," he said.

All he can do for now is keep his mind fresh in any way possible. He keeps tabs on the market through Bloomberg and talks shop with his sister, who's a stock trader.

"I try to keep myself informed but it's not always the same," he said. "You can't quantify all that (on a resume)... but at least it's something."

 

It’s been suggested by a few well-meaning friends of mine that I do the same or something similar until this writing thing takes off.

On one hand, it makes sense. On the other hand, I can't give up 45-50 hours per week of writing time to work a job that will barely cover my rent. On yet another hand (where did that come from?), income is income. Be that as it may, not all income is income. It's just money changing hands without ever landing in mine. 

During my last bout with unemployment, I applied to, interviewed for and got a retail job at the Target. The interview process itself was ridiculous and the training was even more ridiculous. I wound up not taking the job. It turned out to be a good move for me because three potential jobs fell into my lap over the next few weeks.

Three years ago, I told the Universe that I deserved more. I held out for something better and got it. Such could be the case again – only this time it will be for my life’s calling. There may be lean times and times of overabundance, but the plan is to not wind up in this position of unemployment ever again.

Hence, my stance. Agree with it or not (and there are those who don’t), it can’t fail any worse than sending out a stellar resume that will get ignored. It’s an employer’s market –and they’re looking for people they know or people who know people they know.

The funny thing is that I’m in between two “oh shit” vortexes -- my last three jobs were in client service and I didn’t exactly make my name for myself in that arena. My three jobs prior to that were so long ago that most of my contacts from those days are either out of the industry or just remember me by name as opposed to by reputation.

But it’s alright. I have little or no desire to go back to that line of work anyway. As a former supervisor used to say…onward and upward.