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The New York Times bestselling investigation into white-collar unemployment from "our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism"--The New York Times Book ReviewAmericans' working lives are growing more precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by "middle-class" jobs are a thing of the past.In BaThe New York Times bestselling investigation into white-collar unemployment from "our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism"--The New York Times Book ReviewAmericans' working lives are growing more precarious every day. Corporations slash employees by the thousands, and the benefits and pensions once guaranteed by "middle-class" jobs are a thing of the past.In Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich goes back undercover to explore another hidden realm of the economy: the shadowy world of the white-collar unemployed. Armed with the plausible resume of a professional "in transition," she attempts to land a "middle-class" job. She submits to career coaching, personality testing, and EST-like boot camps, and attends job fairs, networking events, and evangelical job-search ministries. She is proselytized, scammed, lectured, and--again and again--rejected.Bait and Switch highlights the people who have done everything right--gotten college degrees, developed marketable skills, and built up impressive resumes--yet have become repeatedly vulnerable to financial disaster. There are few social supports for these newly disposable workers, Ehrenreich discovers, and little security even for those who have jobs. Worst of all, there is no honest reckoning with the inevitable consequences of the harsh new economy; rather, the jobless are persuaded that they have only themselves to blame.Alternately hilarious and tragic, Bait and Switch, like the classic Nickel and Dimed, is a searing expose of the cruel new reality in which we all now live....

Title : Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream
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ISBN : 9780805081244
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream Reviews

  • Trevor
    2019-06-28 09:53

    Part of the reason why I’m a somewhat less than trustworthy reviewer is that writers really do get extra points from me for being able to write well and for being nice people. I mean, if I have enjoyed spending time with a writer over the couple of days it has taken me to read their book, well, that goes a long way towards me thinking that their book was wonderful and worthwhile. This book was wonderful and worthwhile and it was written by someone who can both write and be nice at the same time. In corporate speak she ‘ticks all the boxes’.Over the last couple of decades I have been either employed in a corporation, a government corporation, a local government authority or a trade union reacting to the corporate nonsense that is so beautifully discussed in this book. One of the things that amuses me most about corporate capitalism is how incredibly seriously it takes itself. I’ve always seen workplaces as more or less dysfunctional families. There are members of all families that seem to have been born with a disproportionate sense of entitlement. Others never seem to get the rewards they deserve according to the contribution they make in keeping the peace or the trouble they prevent happening to everyone around them. There are the crazy uncles who seem to have an aversion to using soap and the sister who does virtually nothing but is still everyone’s favourite, even if no one can quite say why. The last eight years of my life were spent representing people faced with the really yucky side of the corporate world – the part where the people I was representing were being disciplined or threatened with the sack. It has been a journey into the hideous side of human nature, a place where people show their worst sides - some more gleefully than others.The premise of this book is related to the only other of Barbara Ehrenreich’s books I’ve read – Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. In that book Barbara joined the ranks of minimum wage earners and showed how hard they were expected to work and how little rewarded they were. But white collar people then told Barbara she should write a book about their experience – after all, they had done all the right things: finished their education, not gotten pregnant in their teens and sold their soul to the corporation – and yet they still ended up feeling decidedly ripped off. Barbara decides to try to get a job in the corporate world – she tries for a year. What this book really is, is a book about the scary world of white collar unemployment and recruitment. There are proselytising Christians who think that unemployment is as good a time to become converted to Jesus as any other. There are would be gurus on how to become employed whose sole advice seems to be that you should network and dream big. I thought the best piece of advice came from Barbara herself, that when doing a web search for work you should avoid the word ‘job’ as this will lead to millions of sites that linked that word with with the words ‘hand’ and ‘head’. If you ever needed proof the internet was designed by boys...The big lesson in her excursion into attempting to be employed in the corporate world is how insecure everyone is – and not just the poor bastards who end up out of a job, but also those anticipating a restructure or a downsizing event or right sizing or an exercise in focusing on a corporations key competencies or core business or whatever the latest phrase for sacking people is. That is - everybody!Marx says in Wage-Labor and Capitalthat the alienation of labour is due to capitalism reducing all skills down so that every job becomes unskilled. White collar workers are facing that experience today too, I think. One of the things I was involved with in my endless years as a trade union ratbag was reviewing position descriptions and job classification structures. These are written so as to ‘broad band’ jobs, but the jobs themselves can be broad banded because the skills being bought are much the same over a range of positions. When I worked at the City of Melbourne it was part of my role to go to every branch in the organisation and to listen to the ‘mission statements’ they had prepared. It soon became clear that these were virtually identical to each other and more or less interchangeable. So much so that from reading the mission statement alone you couldn’t tell if the branch was involved in Strategic Research or issuing parking fines. They always said something bland about customer service (despite local governments not really being in anything that could reasonably be called ‘customer service’ - any reasonable definition of which would include the fact that customer service requires the provision of different service leaves depending on the ability to pay). They always said something about excellence and something about commitment. Their mission statement might as well have said, “We’re not terribly sure what we do, but we will do it really well and in the best interests of those we do it for according to how we define their interests.” This was only surpassed by the ‘mission statement’ presented to us by management at the union – coming in at a mere two A4 pages of dot points it included just about everything the union was ever likely to do – proving yet again that morons aren’t limited to corporate bureaucracies.She sums up my experience with the corporate world beautifully. “Think what characterises the really intelligent person. They can think for themselves. They love abstract ideas. They can look dispassionately at the facts. Humbug is their enemy. Dissent come easily to them, as does complexity. These are traits that are not only6 unnecessary for most business jobs, they are actually a handicap when it comes to raising through the ranks of large companies.” (Quoted from Lucy Kellaway ‘Companies Don’t Need Brainy People’)She also has got me to buy a book called The Cult of Personality: How Personality Tests Are Leading Us to Miseducate Our Children, Mismanage Our Companies, and Misunderstand Ourselves– which I’m hoping comes before I start uni as I really would like to read it sooner rather than later.This is a fascinating book – one I enjoyed very much. There is something very sick about our society and the best way to see where the deeply sick and troubling parts of our society are is to watch where the victim is being blamed the most. As soon as you hear that it is your fault you are not employable, or have lost a limb in an OHS incident, or are simply too female to earn equal pay, or need to be stomped on as part of a war on drugs, or can’t marry who you want because a sky god really might get really upset – then perhaps what really needs to change isn’t the victim, but whatever is causing a victim to exist in the first place.

  • Meg
    2019-07-04 12:35

    OK, so it may be that the blue and pink collar work force is easier to love than middle management. It may be that the real heroism in this country is found closer to the poverty line then to middle management. Certainly, it is clear that Barbara Ehrenreich believes this to be true. A comparison of Bait and Switch with her earlier Nickel and Dimed demonstrated that while Ehrenreich finds much to lament in the plight of the working class, she generally finds the corporate world laughable and the white collar unemployed closer to pathetic than tragic. Perhaps these are defensible stances, but not when you present yourself, which she shamelessly and unironically does at one point, as deeply compassionate and empathetic, or as the scholarly investigative writer she equally believes herself to represent. I am always at least a bit put off by investigative writers and documentarians who put themselves at the heart of the story they tell. While it may be necessary to assume a disguise when penetrating a secretive organization or particularly shadowy corporation, surely at least some of the middle class unemployed are not unwilling to speak frankly about their experiences and expectations. Why would stories told in the real voices of the unemployed be less compelling or insightful than Ehrenreich's own? But, putting this initial, and only slight objection aside (it is fun, after all, to read the narrative of a complete outsider penetrating a new world, even if not entirely convincing) my major objection to this book is how callously Ehrenreich dismisses the unemployed workers she interacts with as automatons and gullible fools. Ehrenreich’s time spent among job coaches and consultants as an ersatz job seeker causes her to deride the industry as filled with “victim blamers” who cause the unemployed to question their own self worth rather than external forces like the market and unethical corporations that might be equally culpable. However, more subtly but equally insidiously, Ehrenreich spends much of the book engaging in equally cold victim blaming: after all, she implies, only the truly stupid and unaware would fall into obvious traps like image consulting and faith-based networking when looking for a new position. Unlike the working class, Ehrenreich seems to suggest, these people should know better. Of course, she never stops to consider that many job seekers likely don’t go the route she takes when looking for a new position. I have known a few of the unemployed middle class, at least one of whom was recently without work for more than a year, and none used the myriad methods Ehrenreich so condescendingly employs. But more importantly, are those who do use such methods really to be mocked rather than pitied? Desperation makes even very smart, very capable people fall pray to illogical behavior. Surely this is a demonstration of how much these people want to find employment, not of their congenital stupidity. But by far the most egregious assumption made by Ehrenreich is that she is not only utterly qualified for a corporate position, but that she is over-qualified. I noticed a similar, although slightly less pervasive, suggestion in Nickel and Dimed. In that book, she mentions that nobody who interviewed or hired her ever commented on her education or that she was a writer. Gee. I’ve known someone with three degrees, two of them Master’s, and two very prestigious schools on her resume who spent the past year working at a minimum wage job in Chicago because nobody wants an historian or an English professor. Maybe the reason nobody hiring Ehrenreich asked about her qualifications is because they see it all the time, and it says absolutely nothing for the applicant’s ability to clean toilets or fold shirts. In this newer book, Ehrenreich is even more insulting. She seems to think that people should be lining up to hire someone with her not very impressive sounding and MADE UP credentials. Can’t imagine why nobody jumped at the opportunity presented there. I wonder how she would react to a typical corporate-type who showed up at her door, insisted they were qualified to be a co-author on her next project, and then provided a falsified resume to strengthen their assertion. Surely, she would explain the many hours, even years, which went into honing her craft. She would talk about training and education, the commitment needed to get up every day and write a book. But, she thinks so little of the profession she attempts to enter that she assumes her skills are not only transferable, but better than. Alright, admittedly, this is a really long review and diatribe. And all this being said, I do think there is a great deal in the corporate world that should be changed. I agree with Ehrenreich that we should be marching for health care coverage, and to remove more bias from the workplace. The state of the unemployed from all walks of life is lamentable, and I hope never to find myself back in the grind of job-hunting or working in the corporate world, either as a member of middle management or a blue-collar worker. But, I also think that the academic and non-profit worlds are generally out of touch and condescending. I find it hypocritical to assume that anyone with half a brain, or a conscience, would follow the same path you yourself have taken. There are good people who end up corporate managers, born-again Christians, and Republicans. Really. And if Ehrenreich has no empathy for the middle class, she shouldn’t write about them while professing something else entirely.

  • Skywalker
    2019-06-20 12:37

    I don't really understand all of the vitriol that some of the other reviewer's are expressing about this book. I withheld two stars because I felt that overall she "touched" on the investigative journalism rather than threw herself into it, and it wasn't her most passionate work.That being said, I have to say as a former job seeker (during the 2009 California recession), this book and it's assertions are right on the money. Ehrenreich details the struggle that middle class, otherwise well equipped job candidates have to face in getting any sort of employment. She jumped through the hoops that the increasingly desperate job seekers are forced to jump through these days--career coaches, seminars, resume building, and what have you.The end result and main point I gleaned from the story--a white collar job seeker with totally decent credentials (college degree, certifications, clean history, etc) is going to face an uphill battle and likely PAY money in the form of seminars and preparation just to have a fighting chance looking for any kind of job. Our economy is really in the toilet when you have to shell out funds you don't have just to possibly get a job, and I've been there--paying several hundred dollars childcare a month just so I can be on standby to possibly work a temp job for $100. Is it logical at all? Absolutely not; that is why I quit looking, moved on, and (thank God) had family to support me in trying to achieve a career another way.Perhaps most harrowing of all are the questions this book doesn't ask--if a decent, graduated candidate can have this kind of trouble finding a job, what chance at all does a former convict or mentally ill person hoping to clean up their act and support themselves have? There is no good answer for this. Some realities are inherently harsh, and can't be left on a positive note.

  • Obscuranta Hideypants
    2019-06-25 09:44

    Ehrenreich posits that, no matter your education or previous track record of success in the white collar world, you are not assured of a stable economic future. While her premise is correct, it is neither groundbreaking nor well-presented. Many of the sources cited in the book are 10 or more years old, indicating that the reality of the increasingly “downwardly mobile” economy is one with deep roots. Yet this work is surprisingly shallow in its views. Undercover, trying to break into the corporate world, Ms. Ehrenreich takes us along on networking, “workshopping” and consulting excursions (though much of the consulting requires only phone contact, so “excursion” is a bit of a stretch). In every scenario she is exhorted to be “upbeat.” The constant emphasis on maintaining a winning attitude even in the most dire of circumstances devolves into a flat-out denial of reality. The question, unasked in this book, is: who is served by the denial of reality?The undercover tactic which worked wonderfully in Nickel and Dimed does not serve so well here, in large part due to the author’s surface treatment of the subject. Though she states on page 2 that “stories of white collar downward mobility cannot be brushed off as easily as accounts of blue collar economic woes,” she has done a good job of doing just that. Though most of her networking meetings and seminars are well-attended, the reader gets scant more than stereotyped descriptions of Ehrenreich’s fellow jobseekers. She makes superficial appraisals of them, without talking to them at any length. While this is ostensibly to avoid being caught out in her disguise, one feels that Ehrenreich wants to avoid looking too closely at the economic problems these people face and what it says about the system as a whole.Along the way, the author frequently says she “is outraged,” but seems unable to express what is so outrageous to her. Is it the exorbitant fees demanded by “consultants”? The endless hours spent alone searching online for a job? The nattering about “attitude”? Perhaps she is outraged that she feels unable to connect with her fellow jobseekers. It is not until the last chapter that they are given a chance to voice their concerns. Even then, they are kept at a distance and their words are limited to excerpted paragraphs. There are no conversations presented, and a lack of human context. It is as if the author is tired of her subject and the subjects of her study.She ends with a call to the unemployed to organize and get involved to lobby for improvements. These calls avoid the need for systemic change while perpetuating the blame-the-victim attitude which Ehrenreich claims to deplore, saying in effect, “If you would just pay more attention and get involved, we would not be here now.”A serious approach to these issues would require confronting the incompatibility of unrestrained global capitalist competition with the maintenance of the basic needs of the working class, white or blue collar. Similarly, one would have to address why the Democratic Party has abandoned any association with social reformism.Ehrenreich does none of this. The author is unable to look beyond her narrow reformist perspective and see that what is needed is not lobbying to patch up a dying monster, but an independent political movement of the working class against the system as a whole.

  • Kathy
    2019-06-30 15:37

    From a blog post I wrote in 2006:I was looking forward to reading Barbara Ehrenreich's latest tome, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I really enjoyed Nickel and Dimed in which the author took on several minimum wage type jobs and tried to live on her salary. Her latest effort is a look at what the white collar folks go through when they get laid off/fired from their relatively high paying jobs.It wasn't the story I thought it would be. I expected her to go through several forays into the craziness that is Corporate America and describe it from the perspective of the free wheeling academic. That world is so illogical and frustrating, I thought it would make a great story.Instead, the book was all about just trying to get a job in the white collar world. She employed a resume expert, job coach, had a personal makeover and attended several workshops and networking group meetings to help her land a job. In one year, she was only offered a job selling insurance at Aflac (without benefits?!?) and one becoming a Mary Kay Rep.However, I think her effort was flawed in several ways. She didn't entirely fib her work history, but she had several gaps and tried to portray herself as a contractor type with speech writing and meeting planning experience. Originally, she set her sights on an Executive PR job which no one would have given her with her purported work history. She then tried to find a lower position but I never felt like she focused on anything realistic.There were several anecdotes about people who were involved (without success) in long term job searches but none about people who actually found a job comparable to the one they left. Did she just not encounter any or did she not report any? I don't know.We read this as a book club selection and no one in our group dug it very much, mostly for the same reasons I didn't.

  • Jenny
    2019-07-05 14:33

    While I didn't agree with all of the points raised in Nickel & Dimed, I enjoyed it. I wish I could say the same for this book. Maybe I took things a bit too personally but working in public relations I was insulted that Barbara thinks she can easily step into a director's position in PR with a made up resume and absolutely no contacts in the industry. But she approaches every "adventure" in job searching with snobbish disdain. I agree that it's hard for people to find jobs in America and especially once you hit a certain age and level in your career but I feel that the book would have had more of an effect if she'd just followed the struggles of one of the many people she met along her journey instead of creating her own troubles. Plus, while there are numerous legitimate and free networking/job coaching services out there, she seemed to take part in the sketchier ones that require a financial investment and no guaranteed pay-off. The whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth and overshadowed the real problems that people in this situation face.

  • Jessica
    2019-07-19 15:47

    Why do I do this to myself? I feel this guilt that requires me to finish a book, even when doing so makes my blood pressure skyrocket. I wasn't a big fan of Nickel and Dimed, so why would I think it'd be any different when Ehrenreich is piously judging the middle class? In short, the author "goes undercover" to try to land a middle class executive PR job, with a minimum salary of $50,000. She creates a somewhat fictitious resume - she has a background in "event planning" and was a PR consultant until taking thirteen years off as a homemaker. Does she really think that she can go with basically no experience to a $50K executive job? Nonetheless, she spends almost $6,000 on career coaches and image makeover consultants. What middle class person out of work would spend $6,000 on something like that? She goes to networking groups that take places in churches - and then rants and raves that the group starts the meeting with prayer. Really, what did she expect?

  • Nadine Dajani
    2019-07-02 12:50

    Although this book was published in 2005, I didn't read it until 2010. If I had read it in 2005, I might not have related to it so intensely, as I did in 2009 when I was laid off for the first time. I would get laid off twice more before landing stable employment again in 2012. Back in 2005 I was smug, fully insulated from the severity of unemployment, never having been out of a job since I got my first part-time job at 16, working at the mall. This turned into paid internships at prestigious accounting firms while I was in University, and a great job as a financial analyst upon graduation. This was followed by promotions, raises, more and more benefits, and exciting career changes before it all came to a halt in the wake of the Great Recession. Ehrenreich's portrayal of looking for 'white collar' work after any kind of life change - maternity leave, a lay-off, your company going bust, even just being in your 50s! - is spot on. Not only does she expose the entirely new industry that sprang up in the wake of mass "right-sizing" and economic re-organization - phony career-coaches, resume consulting firms, "image" experts and expensive job hunting 'boot camps' - she also delves into the devastating emotional toll an experience like this can take on people - even on her, when this was supposed to be just research for a book!Very sobering, and very true. Especially for those who think this can never happen to them.

  • Irene
    2019-07-07 08:40

    According to the book’s introduction, Ehrenreich decided to investigate the claim that white collar, mid-level employees were exploited by their employers and the corporate culture. As she did with entry level work in Nickeled and Dimed, she set out to infiltrate this world as an undercover journalist by getting this type of job. However, with a falsified resume designed to hide her identity, she spends the entire book in the job search process. The tone of this book is not that of an objective journalist, but is snarky, that of an activist mocking her target. She ridicules the haircut of the presenters and the religious language of those at a church-based event, the food and wall art at various venues hosting seminars and the photo of a company founder, the use of personality profile tools by job coaches and the synchronized gum chewing of women at a recruiting booth. In the conclusion of this book, she finds sufficient evidence of this soul-crushing exploitative corporate culture in her inability to land a job in public relations. This is my second book by this so-called journalist and my last. Bait and Switch is the perfect title for this book. I was told I would get an intelligent, critical examination of corporate culture and received a self-serving pile of snark.

  • Diana
    2019-07-03 11:58

    "Barbara Ehrenreich is our premier reporter of the underside of capitalism." --Dorothy Gallagher, The New York Times Book ReviewFrom the introduction:"Stories of white-collar downward mobility cannot be brushed off as easily as accounts of blue-collar economic woes, which the hard-hearted traditionally blame on "bad choices": failing to get a college degree, for example, failing to postpone childbearing until acquiring a nest egg, or failing to choose affluent parents in the first place. But distressed white-collar people cannot be accused of fecklessness of any kind; they are the ones who "did everything right." They earned higher degrees, often setting aside their youthful passion for philosophy or music to suffer through dull practical majors like management or finance. In some cases, they were high achievers who ran into trouble precisely because they had risen far enough in the company for their salaries to look like a tempting cost cut. They were the losers, in other words, in a classic game of bait and switch. And while blue-collar poverty has become numbingly routine, white-collar unemployment--and the poverty that often results--remains a rude finger in the face of the American dream."

  • Clif Hostetler
    2019-07-04 08:31

    Barbara Ehrenreich in this book explores the scary world of white collar unemployment and the “transition industry.” That is a euphemism for the business of helping white collar job seekers. It’s a world of job coaches, head hunters, job seminars, job seeker boot camps, job fairs, and Christian support groups for job seekers (some taking the opportunity to proselytize). She describes passing encounters with sham job offers that advertise “being your own boss” or “get rich quick.” At one point she is offered a job where she is to work on a commission basis in sales for a large insurance company for no salary, no office space, and no benefits (and she is to provide her own computer and pay for books and training). She also views with a jaundiced eye some of the tools used by the “network and dream big” motivational gurus. In particular she takes a couple swipes at their use of personality tests under the pretense of helping to find the right job.This book is about people who did everything right and find that the American dream didn’t work for them. They went to college, didn’t get pregnant at a young age, and obtained the degrees and credentials that are supposed to provide a ticket to the middle class. Many of them at one time were progressing successfully in their careers when they were “downsized” (i.e. laid off). Ironically, the highly successful were sometimes the first to be let go because of their higher wages. Then they found that finding another job difficult, and sometimes impossible. Thus many are now joining the flow of the downwardly mobile. This book was written in 2005 prior to the latest world-wide economic downturn. Conditions described in this book can only have gotten worse since then. Many in this book were victims of the dot-com bubble (i.e. many I.T. types). Presumably now many would be victims of the real estate and finance collapse. Come to think of it, there are probably quite a few unemployed journalists too.The last chapter of the book zeros in on the nature of the problem as a whole. Everybody in the “transition industry” encourages positive thinking and being an enthusiastic participant in the expectations of corporate culture. Then in return, corporate culture gives zero loyalty to its workers. Many white collar workers in today’s environment are simply stripped of their dignity.“...white-collar corporate workers lack....dignity. The white-collar corporate employee...must sell--not just his skill and hard work--but himself. ... His is a world of intrigue and ill-defined expectations, of manipulation and mind games, where self presentation--as in “personality” and “attitude”--regularly outweighs performance.”The role of unions has been to protect workers. But unions are losing influence, and generally don’t represent white collar professions. Some professions are protected by barriers that limit the number who may enter their profession (e.g. State licensing of medical doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, teachers and lawyers). These barriers provide some protection from lesser trained completion. However, in the case of management, human relations, marketing, and PR, anyone with a college degree can present themselves as a potential practitioner. And with this openness comes a huge vulnerability for the veterans in the field.The book’s cynical appraisal of the “transition industry” that feeds off the plight of the white collar unemployed fits well with my own negative views on the subject. It’s obvious that job seekers need assistance, help and encouragement. Being charged fees for services of questionable value is the last thing needed. The book acknowledges that many job fairs, which are aimed primarily at blue collar employment, are usually provided at no cost.Barbara Ehrenreich is a good writer and is able to make this discouraging commentary of American life an interesting, and at times humorous, reading experience. I recommend this review of the book by Trevor.

  • Valerie
    2019-06-27 15:52

    This book was frightening. I think every high school student should have to read part of it. The life coaches were particularly frightening. It seems especially appropriate right now.

  • Jenn
    2019-06-28 09:41

    While the previous book, "Nickel & Dimed", was revelatory and more significant piece of journalism, I can't say the same thing for "Bait and Switch." In pursuing her next book - she decides to pick a profession she knows little about and FAKE IT. She thinks so little of the corporate world that she thinks that they won't be able to tell. And then - she proceeds to pursue a whole lot of worthless job searching techniques that most unemployed people don't find useful.On top of that - even as an Atheist myself - I find her heavy handed derision of the religiously oriented job seekers and their support groups just plain ugly - it doesn't help move along her book at all.Let's face it: the economy was in really bad shape at the time she wrote this book. I was laid off in November 2000 and I couldn't get a job even with many years of solid web development and project management experience - there just weren't jobs out there. I went to ONE job fair and realized: nobody is getting a job out of this event. I spoke with a career counselor ONE time and realized: she's making money, I'm not. I could clean up people's resumes just as well as she's doing - she doesn't even understand the kind of jobs that I am seeking.So, I pursued survival jobs - I got certified as a massage therapist, and then discovered that landing a job at a spa or gym was just as bad as any of those sales jobs with insurance companies. Not only do you not get benefits, but you only get a fraction of the hourly rate. I did freelance work out of my home - but despite advertising "strictly therapeutic massage" - even the most "nice" and family oriented male clients eventually hinted that they wanted a little more from their massage. Trying to get a non-corporate job was really hard - even taking off my college degrees from my resume and removing titles and extraneous responsibilities, only listing a job history and applicable skills. It was pretty obvious that I wasn't some gum snapping college drop out who would take crap from a manager - and when the interviewer is less articulate than the interviewee, you can be guaranteed that the interviewer is moving on to the next applicant. I even got fired from an admin job after leaving to go to my stepfather's death bed because my manager had found my resume through some other online job board and told me that he was firing me because I "lied" on my resume by not including my MA in Latin American Studies (as though it would matter being an admin assistant in the facilities department of a hospital?)No, Barbara would have been better off talking to people and doing a longitudinal study - leaving out her embarrassing attempts to land a PR job with completely bogus credentials. This book would have beeninteresting if it had included more information about people and follow up with them (ie, expanding the "Conclusion") -- and maybe some more statistics.The bottom line is: people are mostly sheep. People want to be told what to do when they run out of ideas on their own, and there are plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing who will tell them what they want to hear, whether it is a career counselor, job fair, or some "job" that requires the employee make an initial investment and provide her own benefits.Companies used that first dot-bomb crisis, and the more recent economic recession, as a way to leverage themselves out of any kind of commitment or loyalty to employees. I haven't had a "perm" job in six years -- everyone wants to hire contractors. No retirement matching, no vacation pay, no insurance -- nada. On some levels, having been employed through the last recession, I have to wonder - call me a cynic if you will - whether these jobs crises are merely a mechanism controlled by corporate America to increasingly reduce job seeker & employee expectations of their (potential) employers. Instead of keeping employees happy so they are loyal and do good work - the tables are turned. Employees have to walk on eggshells and figure out what to do to keep their employers happy, how to dress, behave and meet metrics to keep their jobs. That's the real crisis -- how we, as a society, are accepting excuses from our government and our employers that increasing limit our options and keep us at a perpetual disadvantage that is not static but spiraling downward.

  • Barbara
    2019-07-20 09:56

    I read this because Ehrenreich's earlier book, Nickel and Dimed, wasn't available from the library - but I thought a close examination of the issues of the US middle class would be equally interesting. Unfortunately, although that's the book Ehrenreich set out to write,it's not what this book turned out to be.Ehrenreich started with the intention of a parallel structure to 'Nickle and Dimed' - she would masquerade as a unemployed white-collar PR professional, get corporate job, work there for several months and write about the experience. She picks a pseudonym, creates a resume, and hits the job boards. After a year of searching, she's had not one genuine interview, let alone a corporate job. So it's really a book about the horrors and indignities of the job search.One of the problems with her approach is that the strictures of her false identity lead to an unrealism that seriously undermines the credibility of her narrative. She picks PR because it's close to her real job (journalism and writing), but she doesn't know the industry - so she spends time finding out the most basic facts about the career - what kind of companies hire PR specialists, what are the professional associations that might help, even the industry jargon. Since she's operating under a false identity, she can't use the real contacts she has, and of course the fictional clients she created can't help either. So her search is hard, discouraging and ultimately futile. Which is not exactly new insight.In other spots, it seems like she deliberately makes choices that make for good copy but strike a false note. She pays for a few career coaches who spout nothing other than positive thinking, even though they strike her as irritating from the first meeting. She attends more than one fundamentalist Christian networking event even after she makes clear that she has severe doubts about mixing religion and commerce.A bit like an epidemiological study, her exaggerated methods do lead to a few moments where I thought, yeah. But the most interesting part of the book is near the end when she gives up on her own search and interviews the fellow seekers she's met along the way. If she'd taken this approach from the beginning, with both employed and unemployed white collared professionals, she could have written a real picture of failures of the American dream for the middle class, rather than her ersatz foray into a strange foreign land.

  • Leo Walsh
    2019-06-30 08:36

    Not so certain why people reaect negatively to this book. Having been through the white-collar lay-off process (and I choose to say "lay off" instead of "in transition" since it is more honest), I have to agree with Ehrenreich. The advice given by career coaches is generally silly EST-like pop psychology. And by focusing on flaws in you -- appearance, body language, resume, etc -- we get distracted from the true costs that outsourcing has had on American culture. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. For those in the middle, the squeeze is on. I did have to detract for some down-right meanness. Like how Ehrenreich brow-beats a defenseless, spent, fragile job coach who, no doubt, just wanted to help people. But she is penetrating about the reality of corporate life, and the back-stabbing ethic it instills. Since people are afraid of losing their jobs.I don't claim to know the answer -- nor does Erinreich But we really should look to countries who treat their people better -- Sweden, Finland, Germany and Japan for instance -- and yet have thriving economies than falling for the same old Tax Cut rhetoric that has become all too common in the USA. Thought-provoking and well written.

  • Kelly
    2019-06-30 09:48

    This was exasperating and sad. The author (who wrote Nickel and Dimed) goes undercover to research what it is like to be a white collar worker who loses his/her job and needs to find another one. It's funny sometimes to see how the corporate world lives and what it believes and the games that people play (use the correct buzz words, know the right people), but it also makes me so mad. Obtaining a good education and working hard are not enough. It was also interesting to see all the "coaches" out there who are willing to tell you how to dress, how to make the perfect resume, how to sell yourself, etc. - all for a fee. People are desperate so they do this! The book uncovers the middle class/upper middle class of work very well.

  • Rachel Willis
    2019-06-29 08:41

    I read Nickel and Dimed when I was a low wage retail worker, so I thought it appropriate to read Bait and Switch now that I work in the corporate world. Although Ehrenreich doesn't accomplish what she set out to do (enter the corporate world as an employee), she offers a scary look at the nature of unemployment in the white collar world. However, I thought she spent a little too much time examining the world of 'career coaching' and not enough focusing on the plight of the unemployed white collar worker who has searched for months, been forced to take a 'survival' job, and generally feels a sense of despair. She devotes a couple of chapters and a conclusion to analyze this, but the majority of the book is focused on her meetings with career coaches and the sessions she attends under their guidance. One chapter would have been enough to tell the reader that, in general, these people offer no real help in the search to find a job and ultimately make their livings by taking advantage of the hopelessly unemployed.

  • Noel
    2019-07-08 15:36

    Ehrenreich missed the mark with this book. She went out to try to nab a job in mid management with a fake resume and just never made it. She enlisted career advisors, and went to job fairs and spent tons of money with no results. The basic issue here is that she didn't have the 20 or so years of experience, of friends in the business and contacts in her trade to give her a boost. She spent a good part of the book being cynical about the many people and places she enlisted to help her in her search. I really don't think most people do this. In the end I think she would have done better shadowing 3 or 4 people who have lost their jobs and truly analyzing their situations completely, instead of trying to masquerade as something she wasn't. I got the feeling that she had a contract with the editor and couldn't change it once she had started off on the wrong path, so she just made the best of it, which did not make for good reading.

  • C. Scott
    2019-06-29 12:35

    This lesser companion piece to Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed" can only be described as a book-length exercise in turning lemons into lemonade. Her intent was to go undercover as she did in her other book but sadly didn't get very far.I feel like this book itself was a bit of a bait and switch because the cover seems to indicate that the author is going to uncover some truths about modern corporate culture. However the book turns out to be an extended job hunting narrative and an incomplete interpretation of corporate culture from the outside looking in.I really like this author, her other book was terrific, but I felt a bit let down by this one. The only thing that saved this piece was the author's incredible wit and funny writing style. A fast and entertaining read, though a little skimpy on content.

  • Laura
    2019-07-03 07:28

    Barbara Ehrenreich is one of those rare journalists who knows how to listen, observe, and really dive deep into the subject she's studying. This time around, it's the unemployed white collar worker that she's focusing on, and in this book, she reports and analyzes her experience of being a corporate job-seeker. On a personal note, it seemed like no coincidence that I read this during the same week that I'm leaving a job that, in the last year, turned very disappointingly corporate. So much of what she observed about corporate values -- the devaluation of the worker, the high turnover of employees, the lack of job security, the expectation that workers should devote their entire lives to the company without much investment in their own well-being in return -- rings true to what I've observed in the few corporate environments that I have found myself in.I also really enjoyed her sharp analysis of the convergence of capitalism and right-wing Christianity. Why do these two go hand in hand so well? I think she sums it up perfectly: "What we want from a career is some moral thrust, some meaningful story we can... tell our children. The old narrative was 'I worked hard and therefore succeeded' or sometimes 'I screwed up and therefore failed.' But a life of only intermittently rewarded effort -- working hard only to be laid off, and then repeating the process until aging forecloses decent job offers -- requires more strenuous forms of explanation. Either you look for the institutional forces shaping your life, or you attribute the unpredictable ups and downs of your career to an infinitely powerful, endlessly detail-oriented God" (p. 142).Throughout the book, as Ehrenreich described the passive despair of many of her fellow job seekers and the strong reliance on pop-psychology in career coaching seminars, I was reminded of the general mindset of pyramid schemes and cults. In the end, both emphasize powerlessness and submission to authority. I thought specifically about the Landmark seminars and Quickstar (the new and not-so-improved Amway pyramid scheme). The people that I knew who participated in these were full of self-blame, and they bought into the belief that if they could only be better themselves, then they would DO better... i.e. sell more, achieve their goals, be rich, whatever. As Ehrenreich so aptly points out, this self-blame is essential to a capitalist system where the worker is not protected and is only a cog in the corporate wheel that can be easily replaced or completely discarded. She stresses the need for the corporate cast-offs to drop the self-blame and to instead scrutinize the system that keeps spitting them out so cruelly. In her conclusion, she looks at the problems of the buzz word of the 21st century -- passion -- and the psychological and emotional damage that is caused by the demand for passion: "It is the insecurity of white-collar employment that makes the demand for passion so cruel and perverse. You may be able to stimulate passion, or even feel it, for one job, but what about the next, and the next? ... Picking up after a firing and regrouping in a mode of passionate engagement, and doing so time after time -- this is a job for a professional actor or for a person who has lost the capacity for spontaneous feeling" (p. 232). This explains why the majority of people who do succeed in the corporate world and rise to the top of it tend to be sociopaths and psychopaths. I also really resonated with what she says about how companies expect their employees to invest heavily in the company even though the company doesn't show the same kind of investment in return: "What sets the white-collar corporate workers apart and leaves them so vulnerable is the requirement that they identify, absolutely and unreservedly, with their employers. While the physician or scientist identifies with his or her profession, rather than with the hospital or laboratory that currently employs them, the white-collar functionary is expected to express total fealty to the current occupants of the 'C-suites.'... Unfortunately, as the large numbers of laid-off white-collar workers show, this loyalty is not reliably reciprocated" (p. 235).Finally, the other point that I really appreciated was how outdated the linking of healthcare to employment is. In an economy where people will hold multiple jobs throughout the course of their careers, it doesn't make sense to tie healthcare to employment. Furthermore, the fact that being unemployed means being without healthcare only heightens the anxiety that job seekers feel and results in a stunting or complete annihilation of any creativity that could benefit the society in its innovation. The worker is turned into a beaten sheep who cowers and seeks only to please, only to please be let back into the barn where at least it is warm before the slaughter. This cycle is not productive, and, on the scale of society as a whole, it is a failure to not take care of its citizens. Money is not the issue. The distribution of it is as are the values that decide its distribution and allocation.As you can see, I really liked this book, and I felt like it helped to articulate many of the issues that I was observing in my own experience.

  • Amber
    2019-06-23 11:44

    This book was a funny read about the humiliations of job seeking and the sometimes ridiculousness corporate trainers, professional resume writers, and corporate America at large.

  • Rachel
    2019-07-09 10:50

    I admittedly had higher hopes for this book after having just read Nickel and Dimed, and I think the biggest downfall -- whether or not there was more Ehrenreich could have done about it -- was not actually ever landing a job in the "corporate sector." All the information she included about job fairs and career coaches and the online job searches was both illuminating (though not surprising) and soul-draining. Some of the organizations and personality tests seemed almost cult-like in the belief systems they tried to impart (it’s not them, it’s you who needs to change!). Sure, your results in the Meyers Briggs test are interesting on a personal level, but why on Earth would they be considered a viable tool for selecting new employees? As Ehrenreich pointed out in the book, people are very unlikely to get the same results when taking the test different times -- it's so subjective to mood and other outside factors. And perhaps this is the point of the book -- to show the absurdity of the whole system. So many factors are working against you in getting a job -- who you (don't) know, what your credit score is, and even if you've been unemployed for some span of time (it's called a Gap -- an employer won't hire someone simply because they've been unemployed for some span of time through no fault or choice of their own). And there are all kinds of people/businesses trying to profit from that absurdity -- crockpot seminar leaders, career coaches, resume coaches, even "image consultants" (Ehrenreich employed all three; the latter, of course, informed her that her make-up was all wrong and sold her $50 of his own product on top of the consulting fee he charged. None of it made a difference). Remember, it’s you that needs to change, of course, not the hiring/recruiting process.If this is the point, it was well-taken. Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm is more a reaction to the information than to Ehrenreich's writing. This book was published seven years ago (and thus written/researched closer to 10 years ago) and the job situation is largely the same. Some of the information – particularly about the AFLAC pyramid schemes and the bogus insurance sales positions, are old news. Perhaps that’s actually the biggest downfall of Ehrenreich’s book – the results aren’t surprising, and a lot of it we’ve learned on our own since the book was published. Many of us KNOW all these coaches and seminars and consultants don’t work. We know that job fairs are basically a joke. And we know the seeming futility of the internet job search/application. Perhaps the most surprising thing is how long this has all been a problem.

  • Ashley
    2019-07-01 08:38

    Was expecting to like this one more than I actually did. I was a huge fan of Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed" and was excited to see what her take on the white collar, corporate culture would be like.Much like "Nickel and Dimed", Ehrenreich went undercover, so to speak, and tried to infiltrate corporate America by joining job seekers for white collar professions or "executives in transition" as they seemed to so often label themselves. By starting at the beginning, so to speak, she would be able to see how the job-hunting, interviewing, and ultimately, accepting a job offer processes play out. However, she never made it past the networking, career coaching, and resume tweaking stage. She had two interviews - one with AFLAC and one with Mary Kay' hardly what she had set her sights on at the outset when she was marketing herself to potential employers a PR executive. While I found the discussions and inside look at career coaches (who were oftentimes just as desperate as some of their clients) and networking opportunities (many thinly veiled attempts as proselytization or to sell high-priced seminars or coaching sessions), I felt like Ehrenreich was trying to tell the story of corporate America as someone who busted her way in, when in actuality, she never made it in the door. Some extrapolation I could have tolerated, and would have welcomed. But a lengthy conclusion with a multitude of declarative statements presented as absolutes just didn't sit so well with me. Yes, coporations have shortcomings. But doesn't every industry and every class have shortcomings too? My disappointment stems chiefly from my admiration for Ehrenreich in "Nickel and Dimed"; she did the dirty work and struggled with housing - she was 100% immersed. Because of that, I can't help but feel that with "Bait and Switch" she tried to pass her limited experiences off as all-encompassing, when I didn't feel that she had a basis to tell the whole story. Still an interesting read, though it felt a bit drug out at times; I was most anxious to hear her thoughts once she got an actual job, which, of course, never came. I can understand her frustration expressed in the conclusion, though can't help but feel she was a bit harsh in her assesment of corporate cultures; it was to the point of demonization. It was interesting that this book was written in 2005; with the recession still fresh in everyone's mind, this book is still perfectly applicable.

  • liz
    2019-07-20 13:55

    Question: As she sets it out in her introduction, the goal of this book is to show what it takes to find a white-collar job in America. So the question now for me is, did she fail because she did not find a job? This is one of those books that, although it's certainly well-written and -observed, I wonder what the big revelation is supposed to be. Corporate jobs (and even the effort needed to find one) are soul-crushing. Large corporations do not reward creativity or independent thinking. And?? The idea that people with twenty years of experience can spend over a year looking to work before they force themselves to feel optimistic about the employment opportunities at their local Home Deopt or Starbucks just makes me feel even more negative about the prospects that I might someday find a well-paying job that I'll actually be able to hang on to for a while. I guess the problem is that I'll be booted out right around the time I start to really need the money (ie, at the age I'll theoretically be when I have kids going into college. Kids. College. Crap. Let's put a little more distance between me and my own college career before I start seriously thinking about those things). But at least tonight you get two quotes for your troubles:I force myself to slow down and make small, fretful movements with the various pencils and brushes, since, for some unknown anthropological reason, bold, broad-stroked face paint has the undesirable effect of suggesting savagery or sports mania. Examining myself in the full-length mirror, I conclude that I rock, and that, with the addition of a gold necklace and lapel pin, I might, in Prescott's judgment, even pass for a Republican.And on job-search workshops and seminars: Maybe it isn't the content of the presentation that matters, but the discipline required to maintain the sitting posture and vague look of attentiveness for hours on end... Maybe the whole point of a college education, which is the almost universal requirement for white-collar employment, is that it trains you to sit still and keep your eyes open. At the moment, I'd rather be waitressing.Of course, I'm thinking now, the convergence of my own political outlook with Ehrenreich's helped my enjoyment of the book, also.

  • Alycia
    2019-07-01 11:36

    I thought I would have a really great review when I was through with this book. Sadly, there just wasn't enough meat here. I definitely empathized with Ehrenreich's struggle, but perhaps it was too above my own status to be able to relate to. Or perhaps it was just too unrealistic. She handles the overwhelming uncertainty and life-questioning that being unemployed or underemployed leaves you feeling psychologically, but she does not ever get put into a corner at which she is unable to function or dole out another unemployed chunk of money at career coaches. So what you are left with is a book about a woman without a job but also without any problems that another worker might have; rent, food, bills, etc.I don't think that this book is as problematic for me as "Nickel and Dimed" in that I don't think it was as much of a stretch for her to undergo the premise for this work. Searching for job ads online seems a little closer to the real-life Ehrenreich's profession than cleaning houses and waitressing does. It feels less like she, as an outsider and someone "above" the work she was doing was looking down in disapproval. That said, both books seem really weird to me. Who the fuck is she writing for, anyhow? Someone who was never unemployed and needs to be told that this is how it is? Overall, Ehrenreich makes me feel bitchy and forces me to realize that the only edge she has is that she is not a member of the groups that she studies. She needs these undercover exposes to show how the little people live. She may not mean to have this perspective be there, but the fundamental flaw of her books is that it is all-too present for me. I am offended by someone of a high class coming on down to mine and then trying to describe it to me. It just makes me angry and supports the whole need-money-to-get-money catch-22, the Marxist flaw that the only people that can start the revolution are those that are not working their lives away (thus not workers, thus not a marxist revolution...) sigh, sigh, work, work.I wish I was not unemployed and disgusted and thus had more energy to devote to why this book is wrong, but I am just too overwhelmed by everything described here and a powerful awareness of class and futility.

  • Kelly
    2019-06-27 11:49

    After the release of her best-selling Nickel and Dimed, an undercover journey to document the struggles of blue-collar employment, Barbara Ehrenreich was constantly approached with the question: what about the fall of the middle class? What about the laid-off executive who can no longer support a family, or the engineering graduate behind the counter at Starbucks? These were the motivated workers who supposedly did everything right and are now sinking toward the poverty line. In Bait and Switch, Ehrenreich continues to dispel the old-fashioned myth that in America, we can accomplish anything with hard work. Does she provide a solution? No. That's because there really is no solution. No economic system is perfect, and the current employment trends are some of the downfalls of capitalism, a system that America embraces but simultaneously condemns.Now, her experiment wasn't perfect. Creating a fake identity complete with her former name, an imagined past as a PR professional re-entering the industry, and a phony resume, Ehrenreich was only able to present a one-dimensional account of her own experience rather than get into the bigger picture. Would a real PR professional with an identical background have been to secure a position within that four month period? Who knows. Probably not.What Bait and Switch revealed to me, more than anything else, is the phoniness that exists within--I'll even broaden it from "corporate world" to the phoniness within the business world. It's an element that was present in all stages of her job search. The career coach she found online was a living farce. Networking events she attended ended up being masked religious movements (this was incredibly interesting-I'd recommend reading the book for this account alone). The book examines not just the cheesy, but the downright bizarre philosophical and psychological movements within the business world.The writing is funny and charming, making it an enjoyable read. But despite the entertaining style, the subject matter is dark and disturbing. Part of this is due to the manipulation that Ehrenreich encounters, and part is due to the people she interacts with who are falling apart.

  • Hannah
    2019-07-14 08:31

    Alternately frustrating, funny, and depressing, Barbara Ehrenreich's unsuccessful pursuit of a white collar job in 2005 will leave you wondering how anyone ever gets, or keeps a job, and how anyone can get by.What frustrated me was just how many scammers Barbara dealt with: job coaches, resume builders, etc. It felt like reading a book about financial responsibility in which the author spends most of her time sending checks to Nigerian princes. But what else would the book have been? Snapshots of and other job websites, which never yielded any responses for her?In her journey, she meets lots of other unemployed white-collar workers, most of whom have not found a job when she checks back with them later. The emotional turmoil on this depressing, ego-crushing journey of rejection is clear, but unfortunately, Barbara comes off to me as fairly unlikable after a while. She has so many disdainful comments about nearly everyone she encounters, every restaurant and hotel she stays in, that after a while, I started hoping I never ever encounter her while she is writing another secret project book. I rooted for her in "Nickel and Dimed," but I kept having to walk away from this book just to clear my head a bit. She ends with a good analysis of the overall problem for the nation: what do you do when skill and experience become liabilities rather than assets? How is that any way to build a strong economy or country? The usual fixes don't seem to apply: management can't exactly unionize! Better unemployment benefits and healthcare not attached to the job would be beneficial for everyone. It would be nice if corporate tax breaks geared for job building actually demanded the companies add jobs, rather than firing people and increasing the top salaries. These suggestions, after a long look at the depressing state of things, seem like weak requests for bandaids. Solutions are far from obvious, and the problem seems even worse now than it did in 2005.

  • Florence
    2019-06-26 10:33

    Barbara's sarcastic wit makes the serious topic of job hunting a humerous and fascinating report. She plays the role of an undercover reporter/job hunter for eight months so she can report honestly about the "income volatility" of the middle class. She does not land a job in that time though a couple of demeaning oppportunities become available. She is encouraged by the so-called expert consultants to go to job fairs, pay big dollars to improve her resume, personality and appearance, attend net-working sessions everywhere, (including religious gatherings),all methods to get the PR position she is after. And, after all you should expect ten or eleven jobs in a lifetime, so no need to be choosey.She is aware of multitudes of talented people working in unsuitable positions in blue-collared jobs, others unemployed and depressed. These folks are lead to believe it is not the system that is the probem, it is them! She learns that "the call for the new era is greatness". However here is a warning. Don't be too unique! Corporations really don't want anyone to ruffle anyone's feathers! Also, beware having a high paid job; it might mean you will loose that job, as a cost-cutting corporate measure. How can CEO wages continue to go up? " Well, "lay-offs" can accomodate that raise! The balance of the staff will just have to work that much harder. If you have a gap in employment (for illness reasons or even to raise a family) it is a negative! In fact it is common now in job interviews, that you will be asked for your credit rating.Barbara's final conclusion is that America's disgruntled workers must get together and find or create ways to put people to work. She also stresses the obvious, the need for a universal health system. Frustrated by the overwhelming odds of people finding gainful employment, she feels she has not been hard enough in her attack on the system.

  • Hilari
    2019-07-17 11:55

    I gave this a 3 because it is well-written - I mean, the grammar is all correct and everything - and because I was compelled to finish it.However, I feel that the "moral" of the story was somehow lost. If you are a middle-aged corporate executive, Ehrenreich's conclusion is "good luck! If I couldn't get a job, how on earth do you expect to?"She worked with image consultants who were not essentially helpful. She attended marginal job fairs and conferences. Her networking was with the unemployed. I thought she was doing so to show the traps that are out there for job-seekers, and that she would eventually land on something that would provide solid leads. Yet she preferred to criticize the church-based groups (which were really support groups) for having another agenda other than getting her a job. That's a fine criticism that she is entitled to have, yet she goes on to present her own agenda and beliefs to make her own point. Hypocritical.Finally, I think she missed the point. It's called the American Dream, not because we can find a corporate job within a year's time and make $100K a year. What the American Dream is, is Opportunity. Yes, you may have lost a good paying job and a career at a time in your life when you should be thinking about retirement, but your life doesn't have to end there. You can go back to school like one of my classmates did at age 60 to become a director, or my friend who quit her accounting job to go to art school. You can start over, you can add to your skill set, you can accept a lower paying job in your field and move up the ladder again. Sure, it's not necessarily the comfortable thing to do, but that was never a guarantee anyway.In the end, I thought Ehrenreich to be a bit of a whiner and more than a little self-entitled. I'm fairly certain I would not have hired her either.

  • MisterFweem
    2019-06-26 12:44

    I've read Barbara Ehrenreich's Bait and Switch a few times, and have had different reactions to it each time I finish it.This time around I found Ehrenreich to be excessively negative, shrill, and smug as she details her account of searching for a white-collar job amid the snake oil salesmen of professional coaches, resume-tweakers, image specialists and others who prey upon those who are unemployed or seeking better employment.When I read it back in 2006, I'd just come off a year of unemployment and underemployment, working in the survival jobs she derides in her book and feeling much of the same emotion of which she writes. Then, I found her fairly true to life.Why the difference?Point of view, partially. Proximity to the pain. Distance from 2006 makes me wonder, however, if she focuses on the excessively negative experiences -- which we certainly have. She dismisses faith/luck/what have you and instead insists that organization and unionization are the key to stopping the hopelessness of the unemployed and underemployed. I've seen enough union folks lose their jobs over the past few years that I find these typically liberal homilies to sound hollow. She could have chosen to take positive looks at entrepreneurship, individuals seeking alternative education and even finding the positive in survival jobs -- we may all have to have them from time to time -- and thus balance the sense of crushing hopelessness she conveys in her book. But check in with me again if I lose my current job. I may change my mind again.