The six people in our series The Road Back To Work are chronicling the ups and downs of their job searches by keeping audio diaries this year. Updates will be posted here regularly.
Randy Howland, 51, is on the job market again. After six months in a $10-an-hour customer service job, he was let go. It was an at-home call center type job, where speed was at a premium and Howland admits he spent too much time on each call. He says he was "too customer oriented."
The job was far from perfect. The pay was low. With taxes taken out, it was less than he was bringing home on unemployment. The hours were difficult, 3 p.m. to midnight. His wife, Lisa, had to take a second job working at a beauty supply store to help pay the mortgage.
"I am happy for her, but at the same time, I should be the one that's got the good job," says Howland on the morning Lisa is set to start her new job.
Howland has a master's degree in telecommunications management. He had a six-figure salary back in 2002. But that job and income level are distant memories. Since then, he has held a series of much lower-paying jobs — most recently as a debt collector, a position he found ethically uncomfortable.
Howland's problem is his expertise was valuable in a telecom industry that doesn't exist anymore, at least as he knew it.
"I've had people look at my resume that said, 'Hey, no, no, no. You've got to remove that — that's technology from the, you know, '20s or something,'" Howland says. "It makes me look out of touch."
Howland and his wife used to love traveling. They also liked to explore all the hot new restaurants in St. Louis. But they haven't been on a vacation in eight years and almost never go out.
He's back on unemployment, searching for work and hoping the next job he finds will be one that lasts.
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