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There have been three recessions during my working life.

In the Eighties, job-hunting after 3 years at University,  I rang up my ex-employers, who had tried to keep me when I left to go to University, and asked if they would like me back. They said, yes they would but sorry, times were hard, and they had a freeze on graduate recruitment. So I went and got a job with a software house and probably doubled my lifetime earnings expectation as a result.

In the early Nineties, working on an impossible project at a badly-run company, I sat and watched my managers walk the plank one by one: first my direct boss, who was, I believe, actually fired; then our board-level Director two layers up from him was forcibly retired; then finally the guy between them, who was made redundant (and this last took me and twenty others alongside him out the door). It wasn't their any of their individual faults that none of them had the skills needed to manage or direct a company's activities in the brave, new, post-Thatcherite corporate world. The first and the last went bewildered home to their non-earning wives, to work out how to live when, still mortgaged to the hilt, the world would no longer channel large salaries their way. They didn't understand what had hit them. Perhaps Dave (the manager in the middle) or I, understood a bit more, but anyway, we were younger and better educated; both of us got good jobs again, eventually.

To an extent I succeeded in learning from these experiences and hit this one well-prepared. We are used to living within our means, and I have time and savings to draw on while I hunt for a job during this latest recession. I have better skills to offer, both relatively and absolutely, and I understand the game that is playing out here much better than I did in the Nineties. I'll get a job eventually, or I won't, for reasons only partly to do with me. And I'll survive more or less happily whatever happens for reasons much more to do with me. I'm quite happy with all of this.

But I don't understand what's going on and I don't think anyone else does either.

May the God I don't believe in help us all.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
29th Sep, 2008 17:47 (UTC)
I graduated a year later than I was supposed to. In the February the papers were stuffed with jobs. In May the Guardian jobs pages had shrunk to about a tenth of their previous thickness. It's how I ended up as a graduate student/

But it's why I made certain decisions this year: they will stretch us, but not trap us, and I am terrified of being over committed in a recession.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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