My friend Walter had an interview with a recruiter the other day about a very good job with a big company that’s looking to expand overseas. Walter has been in senior management with a couple of U.S. corporations, and he’s got a nice house in the suburbs and a lot of toys to show for it.
But he lost his job a year ago, and when the headhunter asked Walter what he’d been doing lately, he said “Working at Starbucks.”
The recruiter blanched. When they tell you in the HR business that it’s easier to find a job if you already have one, they don’t mean making push-button lattes and wiping down sticky tables.
But that’s the economic reality for a lot of people in the wake of what TIME magazine called “the decade from hell.” There are a lot of people like Walter whose chances of landing a job commensurate with the one they had is compromised not only by economic conditions, but also by their age. Walter is 57, an age at which there seems to be hidden code written into the application process that causes your resume to wind up in the circular file.
In other words, this is the kind of situation that causes folks to wake up in the middle of the night trembling with fear, and I’d be surprised if Walter wasn’t one of them.