Don’t Let Post Traumatic Recession Syndrome Limit Your Future

Spooked About Job Loss?

You’re Not Alone

If you entered the job market during the Great Recession (December ‘07 to June ‘09) you may be suffering from Post Traumatic Recession Syndrome.

You remember. We lost 8.8 million jobs as a result of that catastrophic economic contraction. And the fallout continued. As the Atlantic noted in 2017, nine million families lost their homes to foreclosure or short sales between 2006 and 2014. Perhaps more importantly, they “lost their momentum, too.”

Families [that had] been moving up a ladder towards the American Dream . . . fell off into a deep pit.

What Does That Mean to You in 2019?

Let’s say you graduated from college or graduate school between ‘07 and ‘09. You were somewhere between 21 and 25 years old when the economy went into a deep freeze. One or more of your parents may have been laid off during those years and some of you may have been forced to drop out of school. Then you hit the job market where other seekers who’d been laid off - professionals and business people with far more experience than you - were also knocking on doors, sending out resumes, networking, lunching, and pretty much desperately seeking to reclaim the flotsam and jetsam of their shattered careers.

You were lucky if you landed a job and felt yourself lucky to have done so. You didn’t negotiate your first salary because you were justifiably petrified that the job offer would be withdrawn. There were dozens of you standing behind you, after all, eager to take pennies on your dollar. You gritted your teeth, said “yes” and began your career life.

You’re in your thirties now, inching up on mid-life. I know a little something about you because I’ve been advising women (and some men) on career and compensation since 2010. And let me tell you, the recession wasn’t over yet.

Not only that, of course. You had - and have - student loans to pay off.

And some boomer tells you to ask for a promotion and a raise?

Get back!

You Can recover

I’m not a psychologist but I’ve lived through many recessions, one of which lost me the best, most profitable lawyering job I’d ever had. That lay off left me laboring in a two man firm at 50% of my prior salary. Bankruptcy and foreclosure naturally followed.

I revisit ‘08 and my own disastrous recession of ‘93 because I’ve had several recent clients who were grossly underpaid. When I asked why, the recession loomed large in my clients’ narratives. They were jumpy, hesitant, spooked. So when my most recent recession refugee - a well educated, skillful and savvy professional - said she was scared to ask for a raise, I put two and two together and told her I thought the recession had traumatized her. And that rang true.

Together we got her a 43% raise.

So I’ll just tell you what I told her before she had a heart to heart with the person able to green light a promotion and a raise.

You’re not broken

You’re needed

First, you’re living in a full employment economy now. Check your rear-view. There aren’t a dozen qualified people standing behind you eager to take your job.

Second, when you started work, you not only did your job (the one on your job description) but you filled in for people who’d been laid off. So that job description and your title, the one that hasn’t been revisited in years, is much narrower and farther down the ladder than the work you’re actually doing.

Third, you have acquired an invaluable store of institutional knowledge as well as relationships within the business and professional community that are impossible to replace. Sure, they might find someone who went to your school and has similar experience, but it will that person at least a year to develop into the knowledgeable, revenue-driving or cost-saving dynamo you’ve been for some time.

Fourth, and most importantly, the chances you’ll be demoted or fired, laid off or punished in any way for asking for a well-deserved raise, are pretty darn small.

There are four parts to this recovery conversation but they’re all really just sub-sets of the First Step. You are powerless over the past but powerful over your present and your future. You’re a survivor. But now you need to thrive.

Curious? Take the Second Step by booking a Hundred Buck Hour to get a taste of freedom from the many workplace traumas of your unique recession recovery years. If you don’t feel you’ve gotten a hundred bucks worth of value, we’ll promptly refund your money. How’s that for a win-win deal?

Victoria PynchonComment