Recently, I had a wonderful dinner with a friend who I hadn’t seen in quite some time. I was thrilled to see her. Thrilled. We had a lot to catch up on. I was concerned because she’d been out of steady “this is your paycheck and these are your benefits” employment for years — before there was publicity about the recession and when companies were laying people off in trickles or under the table making the problem invisible.
She had had horror stories — and war wounds. Now clean of all her savings and getting ready to rent the apartment she owns and loves and move in with someone else while she continues her search for full-time, paid employment, I thought, “I must do everything in my power to try to make my current situation work until I find something else — hopefully that won’t be a complete disaster.” So many of my friends and acquaintances who had jobs had taken leaps to other positions elsewhere only to realize they’d dropped into nightmares. From the outside, things looked shiny and beautiful, and the interview processes, even when tough, raised no red flags about what lay behind the facade of the golden doors. Then they had their first day, their first week, their first month, and it was like, “What the h*ll did I get myself into??”
That has been my fear. The fear of the unknown. I know what I have to deal with every day and feelings of anxiety and dwindling courage, and worse, the feelings of panic I’ll lose the analytical skills I’ve gained throughout the years to a place where they simply have no interest in addressing things strategically. They have no road map. But, hey, they want to be at the Promised Land, so let’s just jump on any bus and figure it out as we go along! Idiots.
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My mind is blurry because I was angry, so what I’ll say may not be 100% accurate but, it went something like this…
When my friend said something to the effect of, “I don’t understand why you’re staying there,” I saw red. It was like all the other times when people would remark after I’d tell them I’d been with my employer for over a dozen years, they’d say, “You must really like it there!…They must really treat you well!…” I would be seething inside. Are people that ignorant or naive?
I want to break it down for them. These seem like no-brainers to me, but maybe not?
Not everyone who “stays” at a job “likes” it or “loves” it. Circumstances may require, yes, require people to stay longer than they would want. It could be a variety of reasons or a combination of reasons —
- They cannot afford to leave the job they currently have because they fear what may await them may be worse and/or may not last. They may be part of the “last ones in, the first ones out” when times get tough for the employer or they may simply be fired because things just “aren’t working out”.
- They may not have the skills or the education to move elsewhere. At their current job, they may be able to do the job — they may not like the job, but they may know how to do it — and going elsewhere may, simply, not be an option because they’re unqualified.
- They may be prohibited by things they cannot control, like um…a recession. If you have a job now, do you really want to try to move when there are 4 million other people who are out of work — perhaps not by choice — who cannot find employment? What do you think? You’re staying put, right? Yep.
- They may have personal issues. Either there are things they’re dealing with themselves or things they’re dealing with involving their family.
- They may simply not to be given the chance by those who in positions to hire or promote someone for hire. They may be interviewing but they may not fit the exact mold of the employer, even if they have many of the skill sets and the education, they may be off with one thing and that employer or that recruiter may feel there’s a candidate out there that has exactly what they need, so they pass on the person. Or they may be dealing with things that employers will never, ever admit to because it is illegal by federal law — age discrimination, racial and ethnic discrimination, religious discrimination. Might I go on?
- They may be dealing with glut in the marketplace in an area, specialty or industry. If there are jobs, that’s great. But let’s say the supply far outweighs the demand, what then? You have little chance in getting another job and better off staying where you are — at least until you see a definitive shift that makes embarking on a search worthwhile.
So, no. I don’t love it there. And no, I don’t want to stay. And no, they don’t treat me well. They’re not abusing me, but they’re doing things that are prohibiting my growth as a professional, and personally, they’re screwing with my livelihood by doing other things.
The bottom line is, keep your ignorance to yourself. If I’d said to her, “I don’t understand why you can’t get a job after six years?!” Wouldn’t that have been insensitive and ignorant? It would be like saying, “What’s wrong with you???” Not cool.
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I didn’t mean to snap, but she hit a nerve. I had to “school” her because she needed an education. After I’d said what I needed addressing my situation, she remarked she was “surprised”. She hadn’t thought of the things I was telling her. Really?
There are a whole host of reasons why people can’t do things or can’t get where they want to go — not just professionally but just in life generally because of circumstances. And some of these circumstances may be beyond their control.