Excellent post, Michael.
I lost my copywriting job with a major hospitality firm a little over 2 years ago. I had just turned 52. I should have seen the signs. I had been the only copywriter for the first two years, and then I noticed the steady parade of new hires: very young women, just out of college with minimal copywriting experience. When they called me in, they had me sign a document saying that the “re-org” had nothing to do with age discrimination. If I didn’t sign it, I wouldn’t have gotten my paltry severance pay — 2 weeks’ worth, after nearly five years of excellent reviews and successful service.
After five months of looking for something close to home in NJ, I found a full-time job through a recruiter at a marketing firm in NYC. It would be temp-to-perm for the right person, and they paid me the rate I’d requested. A few months later, when they took me on full-time, the rate I was offered was $15K less than what the recruiter had promised…
Fast-forward to now: I left that job in April, because the commuting time, effort and expense weren’t worth the low wages. I still work for the marketing company on a from-home, per-hour basis. I’ve picked up a couple of other clients, too, and am working toward having 40 billable hours per week. I have a ways to go on that front.
What makes my situation less dire is that I’m married, our children are grown and (mostly) independent, and my husband is able to pay our bills with his salary. He’s also nearing retirement, so I’m pretty much abandoning my crumbling, melting little ice floe to share his sturdier, more spacious one.
I’m proud of my age, my accomplishments, and the work I do. I’m disturbed, however, by corporate America’s apparent refusal to invest in its people.