Downtown Working

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January 5, 2004 // UPDATED 4:45 pm - April 20, 2007
By: Elana Centor
Elana Centor

Mr. Martin -- the unemployed bridesmaid

As I was rounding my grocery cart around the salad bar at Whole Foods, I ran into D.J. Martin -- my out-of-work project manager friend. He didn't have a cart or any food in-hand. Turns out he also no longer had the project management-consulting gig he had been so enthusiastic about when we met for coffee last September.

It's now been nine months since D.J. was laid off from his six-figure salary job at a Downtown consulting firm -- a job he held for eight years. During the past nine months, D.J. has gone from euphoria to resignation, from attacking the job market with a daily strategy to deciding to take the summer off and enjoy his garden.

With all this extra time on his hands, D.J. has had time to reflect on what he really wants to do with his life. He debated pursuing a career in music, his real passion, but wasn't sure he would be happy with a musician's earning potential. D.J. commanded a very nice salary, and he liked taking $200 out of an ATM without thinking about it.

As of September, he was open to the idea of doing contract/consulting work. He even met with his accountant about setting up a business. A week after our near-collision in the grocery aisle, D.J. and I are once again meeting for coffee, talking about his job hunt and why the consulting gig that seemed so promising didn't work out.

"I think he [the accountant] got scared. He has been a one-man show for many years. I'm not sure he was really ready to relinquish all the client contact. It wasn't the quality of the work -- he loved [my] work," D.J. said.

So, after one month, D.J. was back collecting unemployment.

"I learned that I don't want to be self-employed. I need someone to take care of benefits. I miss people. I miss working in an office, and I need structure. It's too easy to procrastinate," D.J. said.

While D.J. is concerned about his job prospects, he' not panicked. He still has four months of unemployment left, equity in his house, plus some savings that he can tap into as a last result.

D.J. is cautiously optimistic: "I think I may get an offer this week."

He has reason to be hopeful. In the past two weeks, D.J. has been doing a lot of interviewing. "When I lost the consulting contract, I dove into my networking and slammed it."

Time is on D.J.'s side. As the media keeps reporting, the economy is picking up. Recruiters are calling, and just in the past few weeks, D.J. has had 10 interviews. "That's more than I had in the previous eight months combined."

In the best of al possible worlds, D.J. wants to return to the skyway -- he is in the running for a position at the Downtown Wells Fargo, 90 S. 7th St., as well as several suburban offices.

Despite all the positive news, there is just one thing worrying D.J. -- of the 10 interviews he went on between March and September, he was a finalist for five positions.

"It came down to me and one other candidate -- I've been a bridesmaid five times," D.J. said.

D.J. didn't ask why he wasn't chosen. "I tell myself that I'm a good candidate or else I wouldn't have gotten as far as I did, but I am beginning to get a complex."

So did Susan Lucci. It took her nearly 20 years to win that Emmy, let's hope that D.J. has a much shorter wait.

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