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.