Ehrenreich describes the plight of many middle class white collar Americans who have found themselves “transitioning” from one thing to another after their company has laid them off. She describes her one year experiences searching for a job in public relations.
Bait and Switch lays bare the phoniness of career coaching, networking events and job fairs. Ehrenreich went along with the game of unethical inflation of accomplishments on her resume as taught by career coaches and met with disappointment.
The closest she got to job offers came from AFLAC insurance and Mary Kay Cosmetics as a sales person who could work her way up. She concludes that the hand that reaches out to the unemployed and underemployed is manipulative.
I’m reminded of the book What Color is Your Parachute, which must be in its dozenth edition by now. The idea is to offer your services and skills as if you’re God’s gift to the company. While there’s merit in self confidence about what one has to offer, false expectations are all too quickly dashed in a corporate world that knows nothing but cutting corners—and people.
Ehrenreich’s book was published well before the current economic collapse. Can things be any better now? I’m sure that question answers itself.
Near the end she refers to other books, including Falling from Grace: Downward Mobility in the Age of Affluence, by Katherine S. Newman, revised and updated in 1999. She documents the stories of the likes of blue collar workers and middle managers who lost their jobs, as well as single moms stranded by divorce.
Downward mobility has been going on for several decades now, regardless of the times of prosperity we’ve experienced. And the world isn’t getting any friendlier.
As you read either or both books, you’ll know you’re not alone in your downward mobility plight. And that may be just the encouragement you need for survival.