Job Loss: 'Expect the Unexpected' Is the Rule

Article excerpt

Byline: Heather Cunningham

My father worked at Sears for 30 years, and retired almost two years ago at age 55.

Today he spends his days visiting with his children, grandchildren and friends, tackling home improvement projects and pursuing the hobbies and interests he never had much time to attend to when he was working long days fixing televisions for unlucky customers.

Despite the pressures of the job, and an increasing demand that he and his co-workers produce more with less, many would say that he was one of the lucky ones. Dad was never was laid off, even though there were significant cuts made in the division in which he worked. The people who signed his paycheck were the same for nearly his entire adult life.

That just isn't true anymore. People move from job to job more often this days, and many times not voluntarily. Downsizing is running rampant in today's recessed economic climate, and many companies are still reeling from the impact of Sept. 11.

When Batavia resident Bill Schoen's job as a building engineer with Itasca-based Trammel Co. was eliminated last April after 11 years, his wife was seven months pregnant with their fourth child.

"It was a tough thing to go through emotionally," he said. "Even though I knew that the company was cutting in other places, I thought that my division was making money, so I didn't think it would happen to me."

When it did, Schoen spent months trying to tap into business contacts for job leads and going on interviews, all while watching the money he received from a severance package slowly dwindle away.

"The thing that I heard back most was that I was overqualified," Schoen said. "A couple of times someone within the company was promoted instead, or I was offered positions that wouldn't provide insurance benefits for my family."

He says initial optimism that he would be able to get a similar job in short time faded quickly.

"After the first few months, I started to think that maybe there was something wrong with me," Schoen said quietly.

It is a feeling of despair that is shared by other local residents searching for jobs after years of employment with one company. …