I read Bait and Switch: The (futile) pursuit of the American Dream last year because I had really liked the first book by Barbara Ehrenreich that I had read, Nickled and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America. Both books are set up in the same way, although on different topics. In Nickled and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America, Ehrenreich goes undercover as low income worker. She takes on various jobs around the country and tries to make ends meet. In the end, she shows that low income earners, even when working multiple jobs and doing their absolute best, can barely make ends meet. They have no extra; any health crisis or family problems can sink them.
In Bait and Switch: The (futile) pursuit of the American Dream, Ehrenreich goes undercover to explore the world of the white-collard unemployed. Through this, she becomes a job seeker and takes every opportunity available to land a job. Although in the end she fails to gain employment, she does come to understand the difficulties of the unemployed, the frustration of continuing to apply, and a culture of acceptance that leaves no space to question the system or feel loss and anger of a life long gone.
Personally, I found Nickled ad Dimed to be a much stronger and compelling book; however, Bait and Switch has its highlights. At the time, I though it was interesting to see how there was a culture of the unemployed, job-seeking, white-collar workers– how they were encouraged to stick with a routine, change into suits even for phone interviews, and the mass discussion of what color to wear to interviews. Now, as part of the unemployed looking for work, I have a better sense of how true this culture is (even if I refuse to follow it and am only on the fringe because I am not failing to support my family or mid-career).
As a job seeker, I think that the number one frustration has been jobs not getting back to me. I understand that corporations and organizations get more applications than they con possibly handle. I understand, although don’t like, that in the first round you almost never hear anything. However, there are jobs that I have been interviewed for, where they never managed to get back to me. I went on their website the other day to ascertain that they have, in fact, hired someone. Really, once they have talked to me and interviewed me, it would be nice to at least get a rejection email.