As a human resources supervisor, Judith Brooks often delivered the bad news to people who were soon to become unemployed.
She also went to job fairs to interview job-hunting candidates who were desperate.
“I was seeing how many people came over to my table when I did recruitment fairs and a lot of their experience did mirror mine,” she said. “I was always humbled at that point because then I would say, ‘Wow, this person has everything I have.’?”
She had years of experience, a master’s degree and a nice home in Coventry Township.
Then on Aug. 30, she was told she had no job at Kent State University.
She knows it’s important to control her emotions in interviews, but that doesn’t mean her situation doesn’t hurt.
“I am very angry, but at the same time, you know you have to have a good attitude about it,” said Brooks, 46. “I should say maybe I was very angry at the beginning. I’m very spiritual. I believe in God, and I believe things happen for a reason.
“That is one of the things that keep me strong. There is a reason that I lost my job. That’s the only way I could think about it; otherwise, I would get angry.”
She always knew it was important to give workers the bad news gently, but now she knows on a personal level.
“One thing I would tell my students is, if you don’t want employees to be angry, just be sure you do it with kid gloves,” Brooks said, “no matter what the reason is that you let them go. Empathize with them and let them know that you are sorry, you know that they have bills to pay and they have a family … Try to sympathize and empathize and things like that. That may ease some of the burden of a displaced employee being angry.”
Now it’s Brooks who is having money problems.
She pursued a doctorate after getting her master’s degree and, along with helping her sons through college, she owes $80,000 in student loans. Even going bankrupt couldn’t erase those debts.
She owes more on her home than it’s worth, so selling it won’t help her. She figures she can hold off foreclosure until spring.
“Maybe I’ll find a job before they actually foreclose on me, and then maybe I can make some arrangements or something like that,” Brooks said. “And then if I have to, I am prepared to walk away from my home … and I am looking at relocating if I find a position, because that is something you have to be willing to do. You have to be willing to relocate. You have to go where the job is.”
During a November interview, she was asked about the stress of her situation, Brooks mentioned her faith again, but added: “At the same time, you still have sleeping problems. You still find it very difficult to go to sleep. You toss and turn about whether you will be able to pay your bills and if you are going to be able to keep your house and keep food on the table. You worry about the credit cards.
“You know about not being able to meet your credit cards. You miss a payment and they tack on a fee. … You have medical bills just for appointments and things like that and gee, wow, this is a dog-eat-dog world.”
Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.