Human Collateral: A Veteran Sees Her Disadvantage in the Money

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Emma Johnson spoke to Leslie, who in 2007 was laid off from her job as a senior research analyst with a Boston asset manager. She's still looking for work. Here's what Leslie said:

There were some hints that the layoff was coming, but I was unprepared for this major personal change or the changes to the industry. Getting laid off is difficult no matter what, but we've had to face something unprecedented.

This has been a learning experience for everyone involved, but especially for people like me who lost their jobs early on. We also suffer from the fatigue of a longer search. I have friends who were laid off later in the game. It was just as shocking to them, but they still have energy and avenues to probe. People like me have already gone down those avenues several times. So the search is more difficult.

Over this period time I've gotten to know myself and certain job-seeking strategies that help me better deal with the ups and down of unemployment. I still comb the online ad listings, but networking is also huge. For me, this includes going to industry events and staying connected with old colleagues. I've also taken a course to broaden my skills.

The job market still stinks out there, but there are improvements. Starting in December there's been a definite pickup in the number of job postings.

I've had a number of interviews, but no offers. I've found that money is a huge, huge issue. I'm looking at a 50 percent pay cut. I think this is a way for companies to disqualify the very qualified. These salaries appeal to a younger crowd. They definitely have an advantage at this point.

I've considered pursuing something entrepreneurial, but that sort of move requires the right kind of personality, and I feel more comfortable working in a larger place. So it's not something I gravitate toward. On the other hand, as time goes on and I still don't have a job, I've become more open to prospects outside my original job search. I'm still hoping that something I really like is out there.

Emma Johnson is a New York based journalist who writes about money, business and finance for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, MSN Money and others. Want to tell her your story? Reach her at emma@emma-johnson.net.

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