When Unemployment Hits Too Close To Home

My mother is on Facebook. I’ve been mildly amused by this until last week when that’s how I found out my mom lost her job. That’s right, my mom - who lives a mile away, who I see twice a week and talk to on the phone almost every day, told Facebook she got laid off before her recruiter daughter. My jaw dropped. My eyes watered. I immediately grabbed my phone and ran down the hall to call her. After two tries she finally picked up, in tears. My brother, 12 years younger than me, is living at home (again) and going to college full time. Of course her only concern is for him.

 

My mom has been a single mom as long as I can remember… she raised me and my brother without any help. We had some pretty lean years growing up but she always worked hard to support us. About 12 years ago she got a lucky break – a terrific little accounting clerk job with a small manufacturer. All she ever wanted was to enjoy her work and get my brother out of the house. Her company hit some rough patches, but they were a tight knit group and the owner was determined to weather the recession. Things were going well… until she got the call to come in his office.

 

I’ve been laid off before. My husband has been laid off TWICE. We know what it’s like, and we’ve always managed to bounce back, and quickly. I’ve been recruiting for years and I feel like I should know how to fix this. I’m full of all kinds of advice for job seekers - telling people how to target their resumes, how to prep for an interview… you have a job search question? I have an answer. But this… this is my mom we’re talking about. Suddenly all the reports I’ve been pooh-poohing about baby boomers and the recession feel all too real.

 

What if she can’t find a job? What if my brother has to quit school? What if (oh please no) they have to move in with me? It’s easy to scoff at unemployment reports, those who purposely “game” the unemployment system and who clearly don’t want to work. On the other hand, many of us have those really tough to fill positions and can’t imagine a web designer or java developer out of work. But what about the accounting clerks, receptionists, warehouse supervisors? What about the countless workers who’ve been blindsided with a pink slip after years of dedicated service and don’t have the first clue on how to prepare a resume, let alone navigate an online application? Before we judge too harshly, just remember - that could be someone’s mother.

Views: 602

Tags: family, recruiting, unemployment

Comment by Glenna Halligan on December 13, 2011 at 2:21pm

Amy - thank you for sharing and I know exactly how you feel!  I was also raised by a single working mother.  The realization of money happens at a young age; those rough patches hit and they hit hard!  Hang in there and best of luck to you and your family! 

Comment by Amy Ala on December 13, 2011 at 3:38pm

Thanks everyone for weighing in... you know Valentino she's from Missouri so I'm sure that's got a little something to do with that strong work ethic I inherited. :) I'm holding on to your phone number.

@Sandra I can't agree more on the Christmas thing - she's been there so long and this is a really small company. I am shocked and frankly a little pissed off they couldn't wait until at least after Christmas.

Comment by Kim Ogles on December 13, 2011 at 5:11pm

I almost hate to say "great post" given the severity of the topic with your family.  But "great post Amy".  My family has been impacted as well.  I was laid off earlier this year.  It sucked but I'm fine.  I'm also a 20+ technical recruiting veteran.  Translate to lots of personal ups and downs from a career perspective.  Semiconductor booms and busts.  Dotcom booms and busts.  Manufacturing ramps.  Manufacturing downsizing (off shoring).  Engineering peaks.  Engineering downsizing (off shoring).  It's gone with the territory my entire career.  The past year has been nuts as the economic collapse has impacted my immediate family.  My brother, the residential electrician at the same company for 11 years...laid off last year (right before Christmas with a family of six).  My sister (inside sales support for a medical device company) has survived four layoffs in two years (40% of workforce gone).  She's lucky to still have a job but doing the work of 2-3 people while in fear each day that she's next.  My aunt is a social worker in CA.  Forced unpaid furloughs.  So, yeah, it sucks when it's your family even when we supposed HR pros know it goes with the territory. It just sucks.  I'm with Sandra.  It's tough to offer our objective expertise to people that we love and have history with.  I've got HR contacts in Seattle.  Feel free to send me the resume too.  It can't hurt to sprea the word. 

Comment by Brigadier YR MAINDIRATTA on December 14, 2011 at 12:03am

Amy, I have been reading your blogs off and on. I appreciate your thoughts that it is easy to advice others but when you yourself in the form of mom are involved, you do get stumped.

I must express that people like Sandra are rare but they are the ones who keep reinforcing our faith in goodness of human beings.

Sandra, your are great; you are a doer.

Cheers,

Comment by Valentino Martinez on December 14, 2011 at 12:05am

@Amy,

It is always terrible news when unemployment hits home.  Really sorry to hear that your mom got the pink slip.  And hearing about it on FB had to be unnerving for you.

Besides being in the worst economy, employers regularly lay-off just before Christmas which compounds the pain all-around. And Debbie Fledderjohann’s post on December 9, 2011 on the RBC, Baby Boomers Still Struggling in Wake of Recession, is a harsh reminder of what us Baby Boomers face when unemployment happens.

Sandra is right—appreciating you’re already networking for your mother--getting your mother’s resume out to us is important.  Employers love to get access to a viable candidate from a friend of a friend with no fee attached. And all of us know someone(s) in the Seattle area.

Amy, your work ethic and integrity, which is highly noticeable, comes from somewhere deep down inside—a place which is greatly influenced by your mom from what I gather—and that’s golden.  Her next employer will be lucky to get her.  And her accounting background and experience is always in demand.  So I’m real optimistic about her chances of getting a better job with a stronger employer.

Weighing-in, pro bono wise, on behalf of the recently unemployed, the under employed, even the hardcore unemployable-- is what I do more often than not.  I’m reachable at:  (636) 394-8155 if I can be of assistance.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 14, 2011 at 12:47am
Maindiratta, thank you for a kind comment. It's just the way a lot of Texan's think. We make a lot of noise about a lot of things but when one of our friends or neighbors have a problem we grab the bull by the horns and git er' done. I truly think most people every where will step up if we know somebody is hurting or needs a little boost.

I think the kudos here go to Amy for reaching out with a personal story that most of us can relate to and have experienced.

Now think, recruiters, everybody either knows somebody in Seattle or knows somebody who knows somebody.
Comment by Ritu Chaudhari on December 14, 2011 at 2:10am

Hi Amy, Good luck from Singapore! Hope something works out soon for her. 

Comment by Amy Ala on December 14, 2011 at 9:32am
Thanks everyone, her resume is almost done and will be in Sandra's hands today. :)
Comment by Amber on December 14, 2011 at 10:45am

Amy, I'm glad to see these responses you got so quickly! Sounds like with all this help, plus you to shore her up, your mom will be on the road to a new venture soon.

We have some variations in our usual Christmas plans this year, a lot of it due to job loss(es) in the family, etc. And I know how unnerving it is to be cut loose when you've been somewhere a considerable amount of time. The last 3 years have been a weird evolution for me, and I just am so thankful that recruiting (and working daily w/ my hubby!) has ended up being something I love. Never would have done this if I wasn't laid off back then.

 Keep giving your mom this great support, maybe take her for a little spa treatment, and send her resume to everyone who offers to help - you probably have lots of karma points built up for all you share and contribute... p.s. of ocurse, feel free to send her resume to me and I will talk our clients in that area.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on December 14, 2011 at 12:11pm
Ok all you Boolean search gurus take 15 minutes today and look for open positions in the Seattle area, shoot Amy an email with the company name so mom can get her resume to them. Search the boards for open positions, check the aggregators.

Amy has a full time job that she needs to handle so if we can provide leads she can help mom get her information out quickly. It doesn't matter where you are, we place people all over the world this group should be able to dig up every opening in the area in a very short time without spending more than 15 or 20 minutes of our own time. If you know a recruiter in the area shoot them an email. We all know about open jobs that are not listed with us.

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