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Fired at 22 and managed to recover.
on April 11, 2010
Tory Johnson starts out this book with an example that is supposed to show us that she feels our pain. She tells us about the devastating experience of getting fired from NBC at age...22. No, I am not kidding. We hear the story of all her first job, how she liked it and how she got fired. Apparently she actually believes this example is meaningful. She was devastated but, she had $23,000 in the bank.(Presumably the result of a cash payout for being laid off.) She writes "With a cool $23,000 in the bank, going to the ATM, didn't seem so scary. That is until rent payments, retail therapy, and a few more cash withdrawls whittled away at those five figures."
As an executive recruiter I could not believe the egotistical indulgence of this story. I sit day after day hearing professional people, people with established careers, families and a lot to offer--tell me that they have been fired.
Being fired when you are expert at your profession, and ten years older than the junior player firing you is what is happening every day in this country. Its demoralizing. It makes you wonder who you are--and that is something that's a lot more painful at 50 than at 22. (At 22 you don't even know who you are.) So, in one fell swoop Johnson provedsshe doesn't have a clue--and tells a story guaranteed to demoralize most people who read this book.
Everyone has had a few stumbles at 22. Trust me Tory--ITS NOTHING. People who are twenty-two can actually survive on unemployment. People in their 50s with kids in college don't do "retail therapy." The only thing this silly story told me was that Tory Johnson made a lot of money when she was very young--and doesn't have any idea what being fired means when you are no longer a kid. Can you re-engineer your career? Unless you are a kid, this book isn't going to provide much help.
Ah but what about the solutions? Surely the solutions will be helpful regardless, right?
Wrong. The solutions in this book are for very junior or low level jobs. Some might work for women with young children who desperately need to be at home and are willing to take gigantic pay cuts. She makes the classic mistake of doing career counseling while talking about working from home. Note to all who want to work from home: Home is a location--not a career. First focus on what you have in your bag of experience--then ask yourself if you can do it from home.
Working from home actually can work very well for experienced people who have usable skills (tech writing for example) and can look for contract work, but Johnson doesn't go into ways that an experienced person can make it work. This book has another huge ommission in the form of tax advice. While Johnson explains that a 1099 contract worker needs to pay taxes quarterly, she fails to mention that the Social Security tax is DOUBLE for people who work from home. There are often other taxes as well, such as the New York City "Self-Employment" tax. Taxes in a place like NYC can easily eat up HALF of your paycheck before you pay your health insurance--so this is not a minor omission.
I would have been fine with this book if it had said it was for the recent college grad who just got the boot, but in this economy an awful lot of people with more experience than Tory Johnson have been fired and are going to spend their very precious dollars on this book--which will be a compete waste. You would be very hard pressed to support a family on the kinds of jobs Tory Johnson will find you. The condescention of this, coming from someone with Johnson's success, was irritating--to me anyway.
Getting a new job or changing careers when you are 22 or 25 is simply not that hard, even in this economy but if it happens to you, this book might help.