August 10, 2011

How Things Have Changed

Open Salon is a writer's and artist's playground that is operated by  I write under the name Bernadine Spitzsnogel.  Yesterday one of the group challenged writers to repost their first Open Salon essay.  Mine was in November 2009.  Somethings have changed; others remain the same.   I am working every day as a freelance writer, and I am most grateful.  There are many people not so lucky..

AUGUST 9, 2011 8:13PM

First Post Evah (Open Call)

NOVEMBER 6, 2009 9:36AM

National Unemployment Level Reaches 10.2%

Dear Potential Employer:
I need a job. I lost my lucrative Fortune 100 marketing job last January, the month where nearly 600,000 Americans lost work.
There aren't too many encouraging word in the Flyover Region where my state's unemployment rate is much higher than the national average. This morning on the jobs sites I visit, the top three jobs with my "search agents" included:
  • marketing for a science company that required a degree in molecular biology, preferably a masters
  • marketing one of those "career colleges" that when admitted a student is loaned tuition money at a high interest rate
  • marketing a music program, travel four to six nights a month, requires previous experience in pre-K music program marketing, preferably a masters in education
I will apply for all of these jobs. My other options this morning under the search agent of "marketing and public relations" includes a career with Avon, truck stop cashier, and sales for lawn service. Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there's anything wrong with that.
I left journalism--my original career--twenty-nine years ago because I wanted to move out of my parent's house. My new job in public relations paid $14,300 a year. That was a fortune, compared to the $5 per hour I was making as a reporter.
Now I'm back in journalism, snapping up stringer opportunities. Why pay a real reporter full salary and benefits when they can pay me $75 for a story with three or more sources and 15 hours of research and writing?
When I figure out how much time I put in my stories, I shudder. I am grateful for the work, and frankly it extends the unemployment benefits. In my state, unemployment is week by week.
The bad part is that our state requires we report potential income, so when I write a story I am required to notify the unemployment office on my claim. Of course I want to remain within the law.
Stringers are paid thirty days after publication. Last week I was paid for a story I wrote in July for an October periodical. I'm working on things for April for which I'll be paid in May. Everyone tells me to cheat, but I won't.
I have four local editors and I fear for their jobs. They are not happy people, and of course, all the signs are bad for any print media. I have some online work, but haven't fully broken in to that market yet. I have several business clients, but I suck at ad copy writing. I haven't found my niche there yet. They want me to dumb down my writing. Dumb down.
So, Mr. Employer, you want to know, what are my personal and professional goals? I have three:
  • not lose my house
  • get good health insurance that provides some subsidy for diabetic husband's prescriptions
  • keep our son in his chosen college
My husband is an educator so he has a very stable, albeit low-paying job. His health insurance is four times what mine is--I have the blessing of cheap insurance from my former company through April for our family.
Salaries at his office have been frozen for two years, and they can't buy a paperclip without someone questioning the expense. His organization's long-term funds are invested in a company that folded, and purchased by another company, then "bailed-out."
Our family know that we are so much better off than most people. Outside of our house, we have very little debt. However, our liquid savings evaporates a little each month. The "Suze Orman" eight month emergency fund is on its tenth month.
Sunday is "Consecration Day" at church -- we need to give something, but the house payment has to come first.
All this being said, Mr. Employer, why should you hire me? I am smart and I have always survived. I had my child before FMLA and I came back to work when he was five weeks old, because that's what the employer wanted. I do have a master's degree, and I always do what needs to be done. Look at my resume -- really look at it -- and you will see someone who has demonstrated a work ethic and a commitment to her employer year after year. I have been an asset to every company and I will be an asset to you for many years.
You look at me and you see someone with silver hair. Ten months ago it was blond, but that costs eighty dollars a month, so I've gone natural.
Frontline had a special last week about unemployment. A fifty-something professional man said that if Captain Sully T. Sullenberg, who saved many lives by landing a plane on the Hudson, stood in a job line today, he would be rejected because of his age. I believe that's true.
I don't think employers want the best person -- I think they want the person who is "good enough"--meaning cheaper. And younger. I've landed metaphoric planes on many choppy rivers in my career, but I can't seem to convince anyone of that.
I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Employer. We'll be in touch.