When the Israeli hi-tech bubble burst in 2003 my husband was let go from his job of thirteen years. He and many of his coworkers were the casualties of a large hi-tech company adjusting to a leaner and harsher business model. Throughout the following period, many of my husband’s coworkers were picked up here and there by various small companies and start ups and even though he worked full-time assisting a start up in getting off the ground, the only income he earned was the experience gained. (For various bureaucratic reasons, the start-up never took off and consequently no pay for the time and effort he invested.)
By mid-2005 we were struggling with either continuing to wait it out in the hopes of him still finding a job here at home or taking his job hunt abroad. This was at a time when our middle child was in active duty in the army and the depressing specter of us becoming a split family was very real. Fortunately for us the decision didn’t need to be made because after several rounds of interviews my husband was hired by a firm looking to make some operational changes. Hallaluyah.
Fast forward to 2008. After three years and little support from head management for implementing those changes he was hired to make, the job hunt is on again. Even though it was a factor in his earlier search, we again touch on that prickly subject of age. While age discrimination is illegal in Israel, anyone in the hi-tech industry knows that it’s “Logan’s Run”; i.e. if you are over 55 (and that’s being very generous), you simply do not exist.
This time around we certainly don’t have the luxury of waiting 2 or more years until he finds employment and not working is not an option, but what does one do when one has a life-time of experience and no one seriously considering you for employment because you’re over “a certain age”? We’ve toyed with the idea of hubby becoming a consultant in his field, but that road is fraught with its own problems. There’s also been discussion of getting together with some of his ex-hi-tech cohorts to brainstorm an idea for a start up. But for some reason these ideas are not getting the fuel they need to take off.
One of the toughest parts of having an unemployed spouse is seeing the daily toll on their ego and self-esteem between potential job openings and on-going interviews. In some cases, the selection process has run upwards of 3-5 months while companies narrow the field. I’ve always admired my husband, but right now he most definitely is my hero. We have well-meaning older friends who can’t seem to get that while we are consumed by the endless rounds of job searches and interviews, being unemployed is not the only thing in our lives nor do we want to talk about it every.single.time we meet. Penelope Trunk ran an excellent article on “How to Talk to a Friend who’s been laid off” on her blog “Brazen Careerist”, which should be required reading if you find yourself with friends in the same circumstance.
Meantime, we’re sitting tight and doing what we can to not be a part of the Israeli brain drain. Quite honestly, given the present economic situation worldwide, even that may not be an option. If you’re reading this and think you might be in a position to help keep us here and would like the link to my husband’s LinkedIn profile, just leave a note in the comments or via the contact form on my About page. Our humble thanks.
Update 4 April 2009: Welcome to those of you dropping in from Global Voices Online. To set the record straight, the subject of this post, my husband, is not the expat, I am.
Update January 2010: We’re employed! (Tfu! TFu! TFU!)