If I told you that my husband was born in Shaker Heights, OH, would it make sense to you that one of his favourite songs is My City Was Gone by the Pretenders? His love of the song has definitely rubbed off on me.
“I went back to Ohio, but my family was gone
I stood on the back porch, but nobody was home
I was stunned and amazed
My childhood memories slowly swirled past like wind through the trees
Way to go, Ohio”
I didn’t grow up perceiving Cleveland as a great place to live. As a child of the 1970s, my memories are of a once great but burned out city experiencing an exodus. It was a joke to be from Cleveland. It wasn’t until I met my husband and his family that I was indoctrinated into the Drew Carey way of thinking about Cleveland.
This year, I’ve had several “My City Was Gone” experiences. When I went back to my class reunion, I was pretty shocked. No insult intended to my friends who have chosen to remain in Woodstock, IL, but the “beacon of the boonies” has bitten the dust. Over the years, I have spoken with great pride of having grown up on West Jackson Street, in among houses with historic registry plaques, only to go back and stand in the driveway of my old house and realize that it now looks like crack house. Blame time, the recession or the lack of interest in homes that are smaller than 45,000 square feet and this is what you get. I’m not kidding.
Even here in Toronto, things haven’t aged well. A couple of years ago, they closed a coal fired plant at the base of Humber Bay, and promised that the thick yellow smoke would disappear. Today as I drove into the city, it was blanketed in the worst brown haze I’ve ever seen. It isn’t home decay that bothers me as much as the completely inadequate transportation infrastructure that causes the worst gridlock in North America.
So why am I blogging about these issues on an HR blog? It is because I am worried that the HR city has gone too.
I find myself sometimes in the strangest place personally. I am virtually always busy with a myriad of interesting HR projects. To some extent, the nature of what I do makes it easier for me to weather the current economic climate than may be the case for other professionals in the field. If it were not for the EO List, I would have little appreciation for what other HR Professionals in transition go through. I don’t envy their circumstances, and more often than not, I feel a bit helpless in terms of being able to be useful for finding permanent work. We keep up the EO List to help them, but it isn’t enough.
There’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that there are far more people looking than there are jobs. The number of months that people are out of work keeps extending. The very structure of HR work has changed, and not necessarily better for either business or the profession.
Hey, we live in a free market society and I’m not suggesting that those who want to get into the profession should be excluded. HOWEVER, I wonder if we are doing enough to provide a realistic picture of the challenges facing those entering the profession at this point. I also think in many cases, HR roles are improperly structured and therefore ineffective and unattractive.
There’s a certain ugliness that is coming out as well. The other day I was speaking with a reputable search professional who told me that in her Firm, whenever they are doing a search for an HR Professional, clients are telling them not to bring forward more than a couple of unemployed candidates. That’s horrible! What are we doing to ourselves?
I don’t want to live in the past, but I want my cities back! Heck, if Cleveland can experience a rebirth so can HR!