Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Job Search Causes Reader to Evaluate Life

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am having a tough time finding a job in this economy. I used to work on Wall Street, and I made an incredible amount of money before the recession in 2008. I lived a life that many people could only dream of. Five years later, I am having a tough time finding work that would pay me a respectable wage. I feel like the walls are caving in around me, and I am wondering what I should do next? Should I go to trade school and pick up a trade, or should I go back to college and get a degree? I need your help. -- Low Equity, Manhattan, N.Y.

DEAR LOW EQUITY: The Great Recession of 2008 became the great equalizer in that thousands of people who were high wage earners went to zero dollars in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Life is largely different now for many people. Longing for the salaries of old has, for many, turned into acceptance that there is a new normal, and it is generally not as high paying as in the past.

That seems to be your story. Yes, you need to start thinking out of the box. Consider what skills you have that you may not have thought about in the past. What can you do? Sure, a trade could be an option. Do some research to determine what trades -- that you find interesting -- are garnering the most pay. Pursuing a degree is another viable option if you plan it out as a strategy for entering a field that you know is hiring. Industry experts suggest that jobs in the medical and hospital arenas are plentiful, especially in the area of digital records. Accounting is also stable. Look for other options too. Be willing to work for much less than you once earned. Pare down your life so that you can afford whatever your new income will be.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was asked to join an independent business venture with a group of people I know through my industry. The conversations have been interesting, but I am not sure if the project makes sense for me. I have a business, job and very little time to devote to something new. I have a young child and do my best to spend time with her and my husband whenever I can. The idea sounds interesting, though, and I don't want to upset the people who invited me to participate. How can I bow out gracefully? -- Too Much, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR TOO MUCH: Be honest. Express your sincere interest in the idea that they are discussing. Thank them for considering you to be a part of their team. And then let them know that you do not have the bandwidth now to move forward.

Tell them the truth, that you are committed to your family and, out of respect for their process, you are sure that you do not have the requisite time to give to see it to success. Ask them to think about you in the future and wish them well.