Quality Progress - February 2014 - (Page 47)
BY TERESA WHITACRE
Perseverance pays off for boomer after brutal job search
ECONOMIC INDICATORS and the U.S.
gaps, I began to consider part-time jobs. I ap-
Department of Labor have reported that
plied for 60 part-time jobs before Macy's hired
it was sheer economics. I needed more
individuals over age 50 are experiencing
me to unload trucks for $7.85 per hour. Then,
money, or I wouldn't have made it to the
difficulty gaining reemployment in the
I found a full-time job as a quality technician
end of the year. Call me old fashioned, but a
aftermath of the recession. While everyone
(QT) for $15 per hour. I thought I had died
lack of money is motivating to me.
between the ages of 18 and 65 is experiencing
and gone to heaven. But five months later, I
unprecedented periods of unemployment and
was laid off.
increased competition for jobs, the over-50
crowd is fighting the toughest battle.
TW: What did you do next?
J: I continued to work at Macy's on Sunday
J: Just about every day. But in my case
TW: What advice would you offer to
someone in a similar situation?
J: Be determined and never give up. Create an enemy that you can be furious with.
mornings while I was a QT. Because I liked the
Let your fury drive you to never give up.
lag, according to the Labor Department.
idea of working in security, I found a part-time
Select a phrase that fires you up and repeat
Expectations for higher wages, less time
job as an armed security guard. This job paid
it often. Look yourself in the eye in the mir-
to work before retirement and out-of-date
$9 an hour. After undergoing required training,
ror and convince yourself that you will not
skills are just a few reasons.1
I received state credentials to carry a firearm.
let the system beat you.
A number of factors contribute to this
Many professionals in this situation may
Then, my luck turned: an organization
opt to give up. Frustration and despair are
with a full-time opening for a quality engineer
common reactions when a solution in the
contacted me. I was really excited, but I tried
Jim's experience proves that with persever-
form of employment doesn't seem to exist.
not to get my hopes up. After a telephone
ance and effort, any desired career outcome
But there is always a solution.
interview and an on-site interview, I was
is possible. Jim allowed me to share his
offered the job. I have been working full
story with the hope that readers with simi-
many job cuts, downsizings and forced re-
time for more than four months now. It is a
lar challenges will benefit from it.
tirements. Consider "Jim's" story. A quality
"real" job-I get paid vacation, paid holidays,
professional in his 50s, Jim spent more than
benefits and a regular paycheck. I have never
because I am a professional who is not too
35 years at a large organization based in the
been a quitter. I guess my perseverance paid
far away from the 50-plus group. I shared
Midwest before he was let go. Recently, Jim
off-at least for now.
this interview with several of my colleagues
The economic downturn resulted in
agreed to allow me to share details of his
job search and how he overcame adversity.
Teresa Whitacre (TW): How long were
TW: I'm sure you experienced frus-
I was touched by Jim's story, particularly
and friends. We all thought Jim's advice was
tration, despair and other emotions
spot on and we plan to remember his story
during your search. How did you cope?
should we ever find ourselves in his shoes.
J: I never had a mentor or manager
No matter your demographic or profession,
take me under his or her wing and remove
Jim's words are timely in today's rough and
Jim (J): Forty-nine months.
obstacles so that I could be successful.
tumble job market. QP
TW: What did you do in that time?
Everything I've achieved was through good,
J: Retirement was never an option for
old-fashioned work. I don't claim to be the
you without a full-time position in your
me. I did spend a few months with an out-
smartest, the brightest or the best looking,
placement service. I updated and modern-
but I can outwork most people. I'm like the
ized my résumé and used it to continuously
1. Catherine Rampell, "In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older
Isn't Better ... It's Brutal," New York Times, Feb. 2, 2013, www.
tortoise in its famous race with the hare.
apply for jobs without luck. I also posted
Also on my side was a licensed profes-
my résumé on multiple online job boards,
sional clinical counselor. I knew I needed
sometimes as many as 25. I was told by the
some help managing my emotions and my
outplacement service that I should only
outlook on my life, so I got it. I couldn't af-
expect to earn about 65% of what I used to.
ford to let pride get in the way.
Because it was made clear that in my
situation I could not have any employment
TW: Did you ever want to give up?
Did you ever get the urge to retire?
TERESA WHITACRE is a quality manager
in Pittsburgh and a principal at Marketech Systems. She has a bachelor's
degree in organizational management
from Ashford University in Clinton, IA,
as well as ASQ certifications as a quality
auditor, engineer, manager and Six
Sigma Green Belt. Whitacre is the chair
of ASQ's Pittsburgh Section, instructor for the section's certified
quality inspector refresher course and deputy regional director
for ASQ Region 8. She is an ASQ fellow.
February 2014 * QP 47
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - February 2014
Mr. Pareto Head
Learning From Experience
A Pathway for Patients
3.4 per Million
Quality in the First Person
Measure for Measure
SPECIAL SECTION: Six Sigma Resource Guide
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Quality Progress - February 2014