I don't know what made me pick up the phone. I was in the middle of writing, or maybe immigration, and when the phone rang, it was a nice break. Or so I thought. It started, as many do, as an inquiry from a candidate about her application materials. This was different, unlike most calls. Her voice was a little edgy, not quite right.
After speaking with her, I realized that she has been unemployed for almost two years. She said that she has paid close attention to job seeking rules, has done volunteer work in her community and through her church to stay busy and network; she has kept her skills current, taking some classes at a local community college; she had a long, successful career (according to evaluations included in her application) before the company closed up and moved and now, nothing. Absolutely nothing. She can't close a deal on the job search for anything.
She asked me, through tears, why I thought she wasn't getting calls back. She wanted to work. She would be a good hire, she said. No health problems, no small children to interfere (her words) with work, team player, strong contributor. I had no good answer, in part because I don't know her, in part because I have no good answer. How long, I wondered, before people give up? An economist for the Department of Labor, Randy Ilg, wrote an article about this very topic. It's disturbing, not very uplifting. Sad.
I didn't know what else to say. I encouraged her to keep at it, but my words rang hollow. I was just another HR person, another employer she could cross off her list. I hope she finds something soon. And all of you who are looking, I hope you do too.