Friday, November 2, 2012

Of Storms and Redemption

As I sit here in the suburbs of New York City composing this entry, a record in time on a blog that ordinarily would be featuring news of today’s job market, or perhaps staffing opportunities currently offered by some of our clients, I have to remind myself that we are, still, only hours and days removed from experiencing the full brutal impact of Superstorm Sandy. 

Even now, with only the soft flickers of candles to break the darkness, my family has no power, no water, no phones, or computers or televisions. No cell phones chirping; refrigerators humming; dishwashers churning, washing machines swishing. It is peaceful. It is serene.

It is……quiet.

In moments like this, when the noise of the day is silenced into submission, and we sit huddled together as families have done for hundreds and hundreds of years, we take solace in the idea that we are still here to share our stories, and offer support to those in need. We think about those in less fortunate circumstances, who have lost homes, and cars, and livelihoods, and for some, who have lost loved ones in harrowing ways. Unlike throwing our daily routines into tumult for a few weeks, the lives of those families have been altered forever. For so many of us, these sorts of miseries have until now been confined to far away shores. Tsunamis in Japan. Hurricanes in New Orleans. Wildfires on our left coast. Always, just a click away with our remotes, but a world away from personal impact.

No longer. We here in the NY tri-state area have now, unfortunately, gained access to the semi-exclusive club of catastrophe on a grand scale. It’s not something that I relish. But in this case, our membership was not by choice, but by design; the design of the forces of nature, reminding us, yet again, of just who is in charge of things around here.

As a professional recruiter for almost 20 years, my primary function has always been to assist my clients by providing the type of top shelf talent that will help them sustain their growth over the long haul.  Similarly, my function is also to work ever-so-closely with dynamic candidates who share a common desire to simply better their lives with meaningful opportunities.  And when these two parallels are lined up just so, and I have helped to make an impact on people’s lives, it feels good.

But now.… after a national tragedy such as Sandy, one that has impacted millions, I sit here by candlelight realizing that even while the lights and water will eventually come back on, creating “normalcy” again, there is nothing normal about moving forward. Things have changed.

For example, in our business, I often hear our industry refer to potential candidates as human capital, leveraging the living, breathing, soul-searching people who simply desire to better themselves with new and lucrative opportunities into generic corporate capital categories shared by office equipment, and corporate assets, and computer technologies. Rather than accepting that term (though usually not using it), you can be sure I will be making a point of gently changing that acceptance going forward, wherever it is encountered.

Living simply, by candlelight, has an amazing way of illuminating things.

And in a broader sense, I have come to realize the analogous nature of this calamity as it relates to the difficult job market our country has been experiencing for some time. An historic occurrence like Sandy, to be sure, is painful. And yet, as with the passing of all storms, there will be a better day. A day when we will rebuild our homes, and our lives. We are always reminded that it is the positive nature and the eternal fortitude of Americans that will see us through difficult times. And it’s true.

So when we speak of the difficult job market that we have experienced together as a nation, the great circle continues. THIS storm will pass, as well. Yes, in this case, we might need to rebuild our personal capabilities with further education. We might need to rethink how we view our professional selves, and how that view is projected both on resumes and in person. We might even need to relocate for better opportunities.

But if we retain the same sort of courage; of keeping our eyes wide open rather than shielding us from the pain; of a stubborn refusal to accept defeat and from that dig down to rebuild ourselves not into human capital, but living breathing people who WILL make a difference unto others in our personal and professional worlds, then there is more than hope to keep alive.

There is the great American Dream.  If we all stay together, dreams can come true.

Scott Bandremer