Kathy's Reviews > Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream

Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich
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Nov 22, 07

Read in May, 2006

From a blog post I wrote in 2006:

I was looking forward to reading Barbara Ehrenreich's latest tome, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream. I really enjoyed Nickel and Dimed in which the author took on several minimum wage type jobs and tried to live on her salary. Her latest effort is a look at what the white collar folks go through when they get laid off/fired from their relatively high paying jobs.

It wasn't the story I thought it would be. I expected her to go through several forays into the craziness that is Corporate America and describe it from the perspective of the free wheeling academic. That world is so illogical and frustrating, I thought it would make a great story.

Instead, the book was all about just trying to get a job in the white collar world. She employed a resume expert, job coach, had a personal makeover and attended several workshops and networking group meetings to help her land a job. In one year, she was only offered a job selling insurance at Aflac (without benefits?!?) and one becoming a Mary Kay Rep.

However, I think her effort was flawed in several ways. She didn't entirely fib her work history, but she had several gaps and tried to portray herself as a contractor type with speech writing and meeting planning experience. Originally, she set her sights on an Executive PR job which no one would have given her with her purported work history. She then tried to find a lower position but I never felt like she focused on anything realistic.

There were several anecdotes about people who were involved (without success) in long term job searches but none about people who actually found a job comparable to the one they left. Did she just not encounter any or did she not report any? I don't know.

We read this as a book club selection and no one in our group dug it very much, mostly for the same reasons I didn't.
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