Last night’s 60 Minutes segment about the “99ers” in Silicon Valley, who have been out of work for two or more years and have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment, was both enlightening and very sad. Highly educated, skilled individuals discussed their demise since the recession and explained why they still can’t find a job two years after they began collecting unemployment. One was living in the attic of a friend, and another was collecting plastic bottles to make money from recycling. These were terribly sad stories that paint a much different picture than how I remember the Bay Area back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Through the segment, you heard multiple tales of how these people were sending out resumes and still trying to get jobs with their same skill sets that got them laid off in the first place. It seems to me that after two years of unemployment, you could figure out that you might need to do something different if you want to be gainfully employed. It might just be time to shift gears.
As everyone who reads this blog knows, I actively promote the benefits of freelancing. There’s work to be had out there – even in this recession. Heck, I’ll go out on a limb, and say that there’s more work than ever for freelancers. However, I get that not everyone is going to or can freelance. However, everyone has the ability to look at their skill set and make modifications to it to make themselves more marketable as our economy shifts.
In fact, I don’t think workers have any other choice than to be flexible and adapt to the current state of affairs. The admin in the 60 Minutes segment used to make $70,000. She’s now scratching her head and wondering where all the good jobs went. Well, she needs to realize that the $70,000 job can now be done for $10,000 by virtual assistants. So, she would have been wise to use the last two years developing a new skill that she could market. No, collecting aluminum cans isn’t what I had in mind. Could she have created a better situation for herself if she had figured out how to become an outsource solution for administration to multiple companies? What if she had gone back to school to become a nurse? Did she take the time to learn social media, SEO, or any of the other in demand skills that employers are still hiring for? Since, she’s now pulling bottles out of the trash, my guess is that she collected her unemployment and simply sent out resumes hoping to get another job just like the last one.
Hopefully, the economy will make a full recovery, and these poor people will get hired soon. But, I’m not so sure that the well-paying jobs that they’re accustomed to will ever return. Perhaps, it’s just time for a changing of the guard in Silicon Valley and beyond. Streamlined, efficient, cost-effective workers will win out, and those who can’t shift gears will be pushed to the side. All I know is that I want to be working – even if I’m not getting a cushy full-time salary with benefits.