"A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the universe,"That fact has not created in me a sense of obligation." – Stephen Crane
I am a nerd by nature. There, I’ve said it. I watch PBS more than any other channel on the networks. After watching ‘Frontline’ tonight the after-affects of the on-set of the recession weighed heavily on my mind. During the show, I was thinking about how Deborah’s life of listening to her salon clients in the Upper East Side of New York City is very similar to my own. Our clients are different only in the spectrum ends of the socio-economic ladder of society in which they live. Mine are mostly at the lower end; hers are upper class CEO types.
The show was entitled, "Close to Home". It depicted the real-life experiences of people in New York who never in their wildest dreams ever thought they would find themselves in their present state of existence. I don’t think that anyone who suffers loss ever really does, it just happens. Unfortunately, as the Stephen Crane quote reminds us, there is no obligation of the universe to acknowledge our state of existence or simply the mere fact that we exist at all.
Grasping the reality of our present state of existence can be difficult for some; especially when they find themselves in a situation through no fault of their own. Losing your job because you, personally, did something to cause it to happen is easier to come to grips with than finding yourself sitting along side the road wondering what the hell just happened. As you sit there you watch the twenty plus years of hard work and achievement float away as though it were nothing more than the mists of dreams. Fear clutches your heart and you begin to worry about all the things that you have yet to pay for; all the credit cards, mortgages / rent, cars, boats, trucks, property tax and the list goes on and on. Your focus shifts to the debt that has already been incurred and then the mounting debt that will continue to grow as you become steadily less able to keep up after the loss of the income.
It’s a dreadful situation, but it is not the end of the world. This is the time when you have to find the sense of obligation to yourself and your own existence. This is the time when you have to dig deep and find that strength within yourself to get up in the morning and keep moving. I attended a meeting once, several years ago, where the advice that was given for stressful situations was to soar above it all like an eagle. Not everyone is an eagle and not everyone can soar, that is when you find your network of support through family, friends and professional associations. This is the time when Jim Beam, Johnny Walker, Jack Daniels, Tom Collins and Captain Morgan are not your network of support – these are your drinking buddies that allow you to cry when you need too but offer no real solutions to your problems. Save your drinking buddies for when you want to celebrate solutions. It works out better that way.
I worry sometimes. I worry about what I would do at forty-one years old if I suddenly found myself unemployed. I know I would be crushed; completely and utterly crushed. I would wallow in self-pity for awhile and I hope that I would get it together enough in a short amount of time to get back on my feet. I know that eventually I would recover and draw on what I have learned in my life. The number one thing that I have learned is to keep up on your technology skills. In this day and age you cannot live in fear of the computer or other technology. (This from the last woman on the planet who does not have a cellphone.) Never ever stop learning. Always update your resume even if you are still working. Why? It’s very difficult to remember what your job duties and responsibilities included when you are in a state of despair. Also, it forces you to relive the job you loved and lost when you are trying to recover from the event. Learn about digital resumes and how they work for real. Learn the actual process of job searching today. Trust me, if you are as old as I am, what we learned in school no longer applies. It’s a whole different animal. You can’t use the same resume for every job; even if they are in the same field because every company’s social environment and structure is different. Expectations are different. Transferrable skills are important but you have to know what the keywords are or your resume will never be seen by anyone; anywhere. And the market is so tight right now that there are hundreds of people applying for the same job. That’s some hefty competition for those of us who are in the older crowd. Our idea of job hunting and the twenty-somethings idea of job hunting are two entirely different ideas. Get with the times or be left behind. Know how to use the social networks on-line; Facebook isn’t the only one out there and believe it or not, Facebook is the least effective for job hunting. Linkedin is more effective for the high end professional because they are for the most part consultants, facilitators, high end upper management and professionals in their fields. The main purpose of Linkedin is professional networking not social networking. There is a huge difference. Even college grad students are using this site to line up employment after graduation. Competition is everywhere.
Older workers tend to depend on one thing: experience. It’s a big plus, but at the same time it’s only one good trait in the world of working that matters. It’s a complicated procedure. It’s time consuming. But, job searching in the 21st Century can also be the most rewarding endeavor a person can embark upon – new skills, new people and a new more modern you. What more can a person ask for?
It’s true. The universe has no obligation to save us from ourselves. With or without us the universe continues in one state or another. It is our own obligation to create our existence. Are you ready?