Personal and Career
The Best and Worst of Times
Gerard A. Callanan
Jeffrey H. Greenhaus
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
When Charles Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities with this nowfamous phrase, he was concisely describing the human condition in Europe near the close of the eighteenth century. Since the book's publication 140 years ago, Dickens's line has been used countless times to characterize the state of affairs confronted by society. Indeed, this phrase is probably applicable at any given moment in history.
As we near the end of the twentieth century, this memorable dichotomy paints an apt picture of the present-day job market and career prospects for millions of workers. Over the past decade, the landscape of work and careers has seen dramatic alterations that, depending on one's perspective, can be viewed in either a positive or a negative light. For example, all forms of the media have cited the unfavorable consequences of the downsizing trend and the related loss of loyalty, dissolution of the implicit psychological contract between employer and employee, and debilitating effects of
Note: We thank Fran Engoron of Price Waterhouse and John Epperheimer of the Career Action Center for the useful and timely descriptions of their organizations' programs.