“All I know is that sometimes you have to be wary
Of a miracle too good to be true
All I know is that sometimes the truth is contrary
Everything in life you thought you knew…”
They sat in the front pews listening to our advice. The air conditioning didn’t work, so fans swirled warm air from back and forth between the open doors and windows, like restless dreams of the unknown. They listened with guarded optimism, looking tired, a little lost.
We talked about résumé best practices and where to look for jobs and how to optimize and leverage online professional profiles and where to find freelance and project work. We talked about volunteering and getting involved in your local community, not only to give back, but to exchange with one another via networking reciprocity; we never know where our next opportunity could come from. At one point toward the end of my segment, I forced a smile, thinking of my own career path, the highs and lows and mediocre in-betweens. I wiped my sweaty brow and looked toward the windows, already somewhat regretting my metaphorical cliche.
“Keep all those windows of opportunity open you find throughout your careers,” I said. “You never know when you’ll need them.”
These were the job have nots — working-class to middle-class folk who have lost their jobs, whose careers have ground to a halt, whose personal lives have gotten in the way of their professional ones. This was also my latest experience volunteering with Hirewire, a local organization to help job seekers in Santa Cruz County with career development and job search advice.
Consider one of the Hirewire attendees, an aerospace engineer in his late 50s out of work for nearly three years, struggling to fill the hole in his résumé and remain relevant and to again become employable.
Consider another of the Hirewire attendees, a service delivery professional in his early 40s out of work for over a year, struggling to find value in the local employment office workshops and counseling sessions.
Consider my best friend from college. In 1987 he wanted to be an airline pilot. He finished his college degree, flew hundreds of hours, finished all his flying certifications and — wallah — he became an airline pilot, first flying for a commuter airline and then for a global transport airline. But then just last month — wallah — he was out of a job, laid off due to the continued economic ice age.
Consider the thousands of men and women given highly skilled training to defend us near and abroad, to then find themselves again as civillians drowning in double-digit unemployment.
Consider the millions of high school graduates (and many more of those who didn’t graduate) who fight for a finite number of low-wage jobs while being shuffled to and fro from social service to social service and then told to look ahead, figure it out and find a job.
Figure what out, exactly? Sometimes the truth is contrary for the job have nots. And sometimes it’s a breath of fresh air, like the note I recently received from another friend of mine:
All is moving along for me…I’m doing some interesting work with companies both inside and outside of the HR space which is keeping things fresh. And still managing to find (some) balance in life by following your advice from the last time we spoke about “keeping all the windows open.”
Ah, so much for metaphorical clichés — so much is needed to warm the world of work again. So much has been lost during the darkest of modern economic winters. So much needs to be reinvented and reinvested.
So much for the job have nots.
Thank you for joining us yesterday. Your tweets couldn’t have come at a better time for the job have nots. If you missed the preview, click here.