One of my favourite bloggers, Andy Whitman, is out of a job. He’s smart, articulate, educated and has nearly 30 years of corporate experience. Recently he made it to the interview stage where he discovered he was one in five hundred (500) (500!) applicants. And the work was for only 6 months. Holy Smokes, eh?
Here’s what he wrote:
I have far less money than I used to have. It is almost impossible to find a job. And the things that used to matter in terms of stability and planning for the future don’t seem to matter at all.
Here’s the way it used to work: Go to school. Stay in school a long time. Pile up some degrees because historically the more degrees you pile up, the more money you will earn in your career. Then go to work. Make a couple strategic career changes along the way to bolster your earning potential. Sock some savings away every paycheck, and watch with wonder, year after year, as the cumulative effects of time and compound interest work their magic. Retire at 60, or, if, hard pressed, at 65, and enjoy your golden years in a gated community on a golf course.
I belong to the last generation that bought into this bullshit. The kids know better. It actually worked out, more or less, for the one or two generations ahead of me, and I suspect us Boomers just assumed that this was the way it would always work. But the great unspoken outcome of this recession is not just that the profligate and over-extended have lost their shirts, but that the fiscally conservative — those who have played the game by the rules — have as well. What has happened is that we have now lost most of that savings that had been piling up paycheck by paycheck, decade after decade. When the stock market tanks, the more you have, the more you have to lose. This is an incontrovertible law of the universe, like Banks Cannot Go Out Of Business and Anybody Can Write, So What The Hell Is A Professional Communicator?
I and my piled-up degrees and my 28 years of corporate experience interviewed for a job last week. The hiring manager told me that he had received more than 500 resumes for the position. It is almost miraculous that I was granted a face-to-face interview. But here’s the kicker. If, by some equally improbable miracle I am actually offered the job, I will be able to work for 6 months. That assumes that the corporate budget doesn’t get tweaked in the meantime. Then I get to start the process all over again, 1 vs. 500. And I hate the very terms of the engagement. These people are not my enemies. I know some of them. They are my friends. They are as qualified to work as I am, and just as deserving.
The American Dream? Psssst, here’s a secret: it’s a Nightmare. It doesn’t work anymore because nobody works.
He continues the blog post with some soul-searching thoughts and more optimism than the paragraphs above.
But it sure gave me pause. As a Gen X, I’ve never expected the cozy life-track he describes above, but still, I hate to think we have to learn to scrap for jobs among 500.
Currently, I have a stable job with a good income and a pension plan (for reals). I own some real estate. And I anticipate money coaching income once I kick-start Your Money by Design again in the new year. But I’ve certainly known very shaky financial times. And I hold what I currently enjoy lightly — if the US goes down, we will hurt up here in Canada. A Lot.
I hope it doesn’t ever come to that.
Meantime, if you know someone seeking a a tech writer, or arts (music) writer, spread the word about this fellow OK?