One Giant Leap for a Woman;
One Small Step for the Economy
There are two stories out there about the economy. One story is that the economy stinks and it seems impossible to get a decent job. (There’s plenty of hard data to back up that story.) On the other hand, the other story is that some people are finding jobs – good jobs. This is a story about the latter.
The (Dreary) Overall Economic Recovery
But first, let’s set the stage with the story about the overall economy. (Skip this section if you’re well versed in the current economic malaise, or just plain sick of hearing about it.)
Despite the Administration’s valiant attempts, at least to pitch that the economy is improving, it’s really nothing “to write home about.” In fact, it’s downright dreary and even scary. Here are the facts about the weakest “recovery” in the post-World War II era:
- Economic growth has been at the anemic pace of less than two percent per year, much slower than in other recoveries of the last 60 years. (The fact that we’ve fallen so far during the first part of the recession is not an excuse – if anything, you would thus expect the economy to be more robust in recovering from that fall than the recoveries from small drops.)
- Unemployment has only this year dropped below 8 %.
- Participation in the Work Force has dropped to the lowest level in recent years. This is at least partly due to people having given up looking, because they are discouraged at their prospects for finding a good job with decent compensation.
- Government policies have actually been anti-growth and anti-employment, including:
* not one, but two gigantic stimuli programs, neither of which raised growth or employment (but did benefit those who received “government” money).
* a flood of additional regulations which have burdened businesses and discouraged growth
* while this is not the place to critique Obamacare, it is clear that it is discouraging hiring
Looking deeper at the impact of such a weak recovery, one sees just how bad the situation is and the personal pain it is causing:
- Long term unemployment is stubbornly high
- The jobs people have found are
– lower paying jobs than they had before with many of those finding jobs taking pay cuts
– part time, making it even tougher to make ends meet
– without benefits
- As a result,
– middle income Americans have taken a big hit, with average income down several thousand dollars over the past several years.
– and the poor have gotten poorer
– median household income has dropped some $4,000 (and has not risen) since the recession
– more people are living in multiple generation situations, with grandma moving in, and/or adult children coming home or not yet leaving
One Woman’s Story – of real “Hope and Change”
So, if you have given up or have a close friend or relative who has given up, we understand. But we also want you to hear the story of one person’s success in finding employment. There may be clues in her story that can help you or your loved one.
First, however, a disclaimer: the woman you will learn about here is our daughter, Mary.
1) The Promise:
Mary worked before the recession as a massage therapist. Though the work was rewarding, she found it difficult to establish a large enough practice to support herself.
So, she decided to change careers and become an ultrasound technologist, a diagnostic sonographer. (That was her first important decision: to pick a career in a segment of the economy that is growing.) She attended an ultrasound school in New York State and then did her internship at a small hospital in Maine. Early jobs were in Maine, Conn and Florida.
But each job lacked the full time status she sought. This made living on her income difficult and unpredictable.
2) The Hope:
So, she set out to find a good, full-time job, but ran into the economy described above:
* Jobs were being filled “from within”
* employers were not responding
* What was being offered were part-time jobs
Discouraged, she landed a waitressing job, but being in South Florida (with us during the winter), that dried up when the winter/spring season was over.
She despaired that she would never find a good job, with good pay and benefits.
3) The Change:
Here’s what she did, and we offer this for the millions of people in her situation:
a) HANG IN THERE: Despite moments of despair, she was determined to succeed. (If you’re not out there, who’s going to find and hire you?)
b) FOCUS: She became focused on that aspect of ultrasound that she had the most experience in and liked the most: Ob-Gyn – and applied only for those jobs
c) HELP: She got help from her school in writing and improving her resume, and in her strategy for applying for jobs in other states (use a local address because many employers pass over out-of-state candidates)
d) GO WHERE THE JOBS ARE: She applied in whatever states jobs popped up – listing her address as a local address, usually a hotel. (Employers, she was told, would only contact those from their state, yet they contacted her mostly by email, or sometimes by phone.)
e) KEEP MOVING: At times she felt like quitting, but she concluded that only she could improve her situation, so that’s her biggest piece of advice: Don’t give up.
f) BE “UP”: Most important, she found ways to “get up” when her situation got her down. in dealing with prospective employers, she refused to shift into “I’ll settle for anything” mode. For example, when her future employer asked her salary requirements, despite having the instinct to settle for whatever they offered, she told them what she had been making, and what she wanted to make. (They told her that her requirements were above what they could pay, but when she finally received their offer, it was well above what they said was their upper limit.)
4) The Good News
On, July 18th, an Ob-Gyn office in Richmond, VA called her and asked her to interview for a full-time job there.
On July 21st, she took a train from Boston to Richmond and stayed with a friend – and then interviewed the next day.
On July 25th, they offered her the job – full time with benefits at a compensation level in line with what she asked for.
On August 3rd, she left for Richmond, her new home – and one of those few who have found full time work at a compensation level at or above what they had been receiving, and with benefits.
On August 12th, she began work at her new employer
5) The Message
In her own words, here’s what advice Mary would give you if you are looking for new employment, especially if it’s been a long search, with no end in sight:
1) “Never give up. Keep looking and keep sending out resumes.”
2) “Be grateful for what you DO have.”
3) “Know this won’t last forever.”
4) “Think outside the box. Don’t get trapped in a box that limits your thinking or action.”
5) “Get help. Have others provide guidance – about your resume, your target market, your approach”
6) “Be good to yourself. Believe in yourself. Know that there is a “perfect” job out there, just waiting for you to discover it”
7) “When interviewing, know that it is a two-way street. You want the best situation for you, so ask them about the organization as well as the job.”
So there is hope for people who have been unemployed or under-employed for a long time. In fact, there are people being hired into good-paying, full-time jobs with benefits. If you want the kind of search success that Mary just had, then take heart – and think of Mary’s experience as you work to find and land that perfect job for you.