Until this week, I hadn't looked unemployment from a recruiter's perspective. Today, in my Miami Herald column, I profiled Victoria Villalba, 43, and Jason Galvao, 27. Victoria of Victoria & Associates is married and a mother of a college aged daughter. Jason of Manpower Professional is single and struggling to detach enough from work to have a social life.
The idea for the story came to me when I gave Victoria a ride from one networking program to another. While sitting in my car, her BlackBerry had constant activity, emails from people who had lost their job, desperate for work. Many of those emails ended with these three words, "I take anything!"
I could see Villalba was exhausted. She hadn't slept much the night before, troubled by the desperation in some of the e-mails she had received. Remember, recruiters are paid by the clients, the companies looking to fill a professional position. As Victoria's lobby fills with candidates each day, the number of positions she has to fill is significantly less -- she says the ratio of qualified candidates to jobs is about 40 to 1. It quickly became apparent to me that recruiters are becoming pseudo therapists, social workers, career counselors and sometimes even targets of misplaced anger.
Jason told me candidates often take it out on him when a hiring manager at a company takes longer than expected to make a decision or when they learn they didn't get the job. For Victoria and Jason, finding work/life balance is increasingly a daily struggle. Who wouldn't find themselves working well into the evening when day after day you're listening to the pleas of former executives who can barely pay their mortgages.
It makes me wonder what other professionals are facing the same intense struggle to keep work from overwhelming their personal lives in this troubled business environment. Are you experiencing this complete consumption in your work life? Have you found a way to cope?