This week, I’ve noticed that reality — the down side of being unemployed — is beginning to ooze through the veneer of my happy job-seeking world.
In my 14th or 15th week of being unemployed as of the Houston Chronicle’s massive layoffs in March AND with only one more month of unemployment compensation to go without a benefits extension AND with no job prospects in sight, I was still optimistic, mailing out my resume and news clippings packages to a world of hopeful prospects, when I got an interesting call from my career transition team counselor.
This poor counselor is from the career transition company hired by the Chronicle’s parent company, Hearst Corporation, to help the estimated 200 people laid off from the Chronicle in March, many of us well over 45 years old. They were to help us, the company’s downsized, get jobs in this downsized economy, show us — even former reporters with 30-plus years of experience — how to do things like interview wth people and, most importantly, how to “network.”
Networking is a major concern of career counselors these days. I took the advice, started this blog, signed up with Facebook, LinkedIn, JournalismJobs.com, and about 30 other job sites and social networks to at least be on the cutting edge of the job search as I face this depressed economy still in a state of depression. I am well networked.
The counselor was very upbeat, as usual, even perky. She asked me how things were going, and she patiently listened to my littany of woes and horror stories from the job-search front. Then she asked if I’d come to the last day of the Hearst-sponsored training to say goodbye to her and to other team members, as well as other still-unemployed people in the group, while enjoying some refreshment, “a little party,” she said.”
Just what are we celebrating? While I found it commendable that Hearst cared so much for its former employees, some with 10, 20 years of service or more, that it hired this company to come in with job tips to help us face prospective new employers and new advertures on the job horizons, I had to decline the counselor’s invitation.
I love party hats and noise makers and calorie-ladened cake as much as the next gal, but I just had to pass.
Of the seven phases of grief, I’m still well locked into shock and anger. I suspect Hearst is throwing the party for those who haven’t found jobs yet and the team that didn’t help me or anyone else I know find one for the same reason it spent the money to hire the career transition team in the first place — to mitigate its own guilt in firing — excuse me, laying off — so many of its most loyal, hard-working and talented employees.
I don’t want Hearst to lighten its guilt load that I suspect it doesn’t feel, but should. I want that company to feel every bit of pain and gloom and despair and anxiety for its future that I do for mine.
I told as much to the friendly counselor who obviously still sees the world as a glass half full. She told me a couple of weeks ago that if I wasn’t getting any nibbles from prospective employers, perhaps it was time for me to “bring some money to bear in the situation.”
What money, I asked. My source of money seemed to dry up along with my job. I don’t have the big investment dollars that would help to set myself up in a new company. I might as well send a resume to Buckingham Palace for the queen job.
What, excactly, are we supposed to be celebrating? The phones that don’t ring? The e-mails not received? The employers who have shown no interest in hiring people well-versed in a dying industry? The ads on Google about how citizen journalists can make a fortune by writing key-word-ladened copy for less than 20 cents per article?
People were laid off from the Chronicle after Hearst spent the Houston Chronicle’s revenues in trying to prop up its flagging, sagging newspapers around the country, after the company paid lawyers for its legal battles over ownership of its Post Intelligencer, and after — and I’m not making this up — the study of window treatments for the multi-million makeover of the Hearst Building in New York that includes an executive gymnasium.
I’m looking at having to sell my house before the bank gets the idea of repossessing it. I’m looking at a bank account that won’t cover bills I accrued when I thought my hard work would pay off in job security until I was able to retire. I’m looking at a family who suddenly acts as if I’m poison because they think this is my fault, that I must have done something wrong, even though the Chronicle human resources people told me and others who were laid off that it was “just a matter of crunching the numbers, nothing personal, no reflection on your work.”
Nothing personal. It’s the economy, stupid.
I wish someone would come up with a forumla that would prevent companies from laying off people near retirement age, and another law that would keep people from acting like hard-working people who suddenly lose their jobs are all rotten bums who are intent on picking their pockets.
While we’re at it, maybe somebody would find a way to bail out the profession of journalism and keep the news industry, well the “media moguls,” anyway, from succumbing to bad management practices that are helping, along with a fickle public, to drive the nails in its coffin..
Cake? No, thank you, Hearst.