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Baiting & Switching

By Margaret Hicks in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 12, 2006 7:46PM

baitswitch9_12.jpgBarbara Ehrenreich has been compared to Upton Sinclair. Her muckraking style of journalism was first seen in “Nickel and Dimed”, when Ehrenreich went undercover to try to earn a living making minimum wage.

Ehrenreich is back with a new book, “Bait and Switch”. The book has Ehrenreich going undercover again, this time trying to get a job as a PR exec in the white-collar world. She finds herself tangled in red-tape snags: gaps in her work history, skills that don’t translate, and too many execs telling her that her lack of employment is her problem, and that she’d better change her attitude. One career counselor says "Be really aware of the negative self-talk you give yourself. Step into the take-charge person you are!"

What she also exposes is the growing market catered to helping white-collar execs find jobs. Ehrenreich spends way too much money in hiring career counselors, coaches, taking personality tests (she was told she would need help with her writing), and going to an endless number of job fairs and seminars.

Ehrenreich has a sharp sense of humor and a quick mind. Also, her website has all kinds of resources, blogs, excerpts from her books, on-line forums, and of course, networking sessions with other “unemployed, underemployed and anxiously employed” people (there’s even a contact for Chicago).

We’ve looked for plenty of jobs and feel the pain of the job seeker. Our personality test told us to be a pig farmer (no lie), and we still don't know what color our effing parachute is. It's nice to know we're not the only ones out there struggling.

You can see Barbara Erhrenreich on Wed., 9/13, 6:00 P.M. at the Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton.