Trading Places

Inside views on the jobs market

Desperate times, desperate career measures

August 6, 2009

It’s no secret that the economic downturn is having an impact on the careers of millions of Americans.  Just ask Matthew Derra (pictured here), who found himself pursuing a degree in renewable energy after his job at American Axle disappeared.

As the U.S. braces for yet another monthly dismal jobs report, thousands more will be faced with one big question: what now?

Turns out, not everyone is looking for jobs in the field they once called home.

“We’re seeing people more willing to consider opportunities in places traditionally they wouldn’t locate to,’ says John Flanigan, VP of staffing company Aerotek.

Just as Derra found himself back at school, people are finding themselves in some unlikely scenarios. One former executive took an entry-level job after losing his job at Hewlett-Packard, a move he says set his career (and his salary) back by two decades.

Sound familiar? Now that the job market has narrowed, what are you doing with your career? Share your thoughts below.


A bit more than a year ago, I lost my job in the automobile parts industry. I was a machinist/electrician/mechanic charged with maintaining and repair of high speed assembly machines and robotics. I approached the local community college for guidance and was told that I could enroll in curriculum to learn the very work I had been doing for thirty years! Hell, I could teach that stuff!Before anyone pooh poohs my credibility as a tradesman, let it be known that my last few employers were well satisfied with my technical acumen and performance.Now, I come up against college educated human resource “professionals” whose view of a mechanical technician is that I know nothing of value to them if I hadn’t been working on the very same equipment they need service for. As if I couldn’t possibly change the tire on the left side of the car if I had only ever changed the tires on the right.With people like that empowered to decide my employment fate, I’m hopelessly screwed! I have spent the majority of my work life doing things for the first time successfully. Repairing a machine that I had never before seen was commonplace for me. These days I am confronted with my age and the belief on the part of HR execs that my worklife has been as compartmentalized as theirs!So,,,,What training can anyone offer me that will expand my credentials AND get me hired?

Posted by RH Pyle | Report as abusive

Legalize drugs, prostitution and gambling across the country and we’ll see a huge dip in unemployment. As it is, for many, it is best to remain unemployed and collect benefits than it is to pursue a low-wage job.

Posted by Mike H. | Report as abusive

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