Now in his 50s, the executive was senior enough to be well-known and respected, but 10 years later still can’t find a job
Just a step or two down the ladder, re-employment possibilities aren't so rosy.
TheWrap talked with one widely respected, deeply experienced — and still unemployed a decade after his last paycheck — former entertainment-industry executive.
The individual, who has worked for several top industry companies, was a step-and-a-half below CEO level, which means he’s stuck in a painful place: He was senior enough that people knew him but not so high-ranking that his name sent doors flinging open.
Once chased by headhunters, he's now struggling. And his plight is all too common.
For more than a year, his previous company paid him not to work as part of a noncompete agreement. After that, he attempted to start his own company. Everything looked great until the recession hit. Now, he’s desperate. He's downsized his home twice, and instead of dining at Spago, eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
“For the last two years, I’ve been terrified,” he told TheWrap. “People who knew me back then would not believe the lifestyle I lead now.”
Before the recession hit, he expected to become president of his own company. He keeps lowering his expectations. But people who can hire fear he’s overqualified for the jobs he’s now willing to take.
“Maybe they are intimidated by someone who used to be in a more senior position,” he said, frustrated. “Or they think, ‘Gee, it would be great to have this guy, but I know in six months, when someone else calls with a better offer, he’s going to be out of here.’”
Or they’re afraid he’ll be too expensive.
“I would walk into an office of someone that I knew well and liked me very much, but as soon as I walked into their office as an unemployed person, what they saw with me was the seven-figure tab that went along with me. Not that I would demand anything near that,” he said.
Early on, he tried consulting, but found it didn’t suit him.
“I spoke to people who ran entrepreneurial funds and they sent me to their portfolio companies saying, ‘See what you can do to help these guys.’ In my mind, that meant using my experience, using my skills,” he said. “They didn’t want that. They wanted my Rolodex.”
Connecting companies with possible sources of funding didn’t work out. “I quickly decided that I didn’t want to be a pimp.” Now, even if he did, his Rolodex is growing out of date.
“The cast of characters keeps changing,” he said. “I had a friend in a top job at a large company. He always said, ‘Promise me when you're ready, you’ll give me a call.’ I gave him a call. Guess what? He’s not there. I don’t know what he’s doing. I can’t find him.”
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