The Circular Career Path

While browsing through some other WordPress blogs, I spotted an entry by another blogger questioning his current career path. He wrote that he’s had several jobs in the past year and wonders where he is headed.

It seems today a lot of people are running around in circles. Rather than climbing the sometimes mythical career ladder, people of all educational and social backgrounds seem to be jumping from one job to another.
However, the reality is jumping isn’t necessarily the right word. Budgets get cut, jobs end, companies lay people off. Internet companies rise sky high and then crash to the ground. Businesses merge, sell, close…you name it…leaving employees in the wake.

Some careers are notoriously and tightly linked to the economy….real estate and construction, for example. Even health care can be affected. If people don’t have health coverage, they will put off doctor and dentist visits.

In the IT world and others, temporary assignments are a permanent fixture on some workers’ resumes.  Some companies make it a practice to fill certain jobs for only 90 days…..then hire somebody else before benefits kick in….and they do this over and over.

I recently came across my parents’ original social security cards, issued in the 1940s. I was surprised to find their employers’ names were typed on the cards. Those were the days when employees could reasonably expect to find a “good job” with a company and retire forty or fifty years later from the same place. That is a foreign concept to many employees today.

I decided to see if I could find any information on the history of the social security card. The government has an interesting website devoted to its history. One interesting bit of history was a story about Woolworth’s issuing a wallet with a sample social security card in it. The wallet manufacturer used the real number of a secretary, and over time, 40,000 people used the number as their own. As late as 1977, according to the website, 12 people were still using it. Never under-estimate the stupidity of the American public.

What I want to know is…why did the president and treasurer of the wallet manufacturer decide to use the secretary’s number (who would now be an admin assistant) …. and not one theirs? I think the answer is they had more sense, and maybe they thought it would be funny.

Back to jobs today. The term “downsizing” was coined back in the ’70s.  Merriam-Webster dates it to 1975. That’s a generation ago. Unfortunately, I think we all know people who once had good jobs and a secure future, only to be find it was all permanently derailed though no fault of their own.The economy. The job market. The mortgage crisis. The reality is while some people’s personal economy is rising, many others are falling. Or traveling in circles.

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