Friday, April 09, 2010

Career Counselor's Movie Review: Up in the Air

George Clooney portrays a Corporate Terminator. His outplacement company is hired by major corporations to not only provide job search and career services, but to do the dirty work, too. The dirty work being handle the firing and downsizing of employees. I know this is Hollywood but, I will address this depiction in the movie. The rest is standard boy meets girl and the man who learned better plot lines.

I do outplacement work myself, but I do not get into the firing of employees. I suppose this is an extra service to employers that outplacement companies can bill a sizable amount for, too. Is it worth it? This could be a very valuable service as these people are supposed to be experts in human relations and interactions and they are supposed to know how to deal with dropping the big one. It must be up to the terminator to assist them with the initial shock and awe. This is a business arrangement, though as the company is betting that if you are talking to the outplacement firm (in the film, taking the packet), you are not talking with your attorney.

As some of you know, being whacked is like an earthquake going off in your mind, emotions, and life. The devastation mirrors disaster victims assessing the damage after losing their family and/or homes. The more time you have with a company, the worse it is. It is a horrible, utterly dehumanizing experience. Clooney portrayed the bad news giver as very smooth and confident with all the right answers. I am sure these people are experts at this. This career field probably pays the big bucks these days, but you really have to be the right kind of person to do this work.

The only one that seemed too smooth and slick was when Clooney's apprentice gave it her first shot and messed up badly be going with canned, cliche remarks and enraging the poor unfortunate. Clooney stepped in to save the day by reminding the said poor unfortunate that he could get on with his dream of managing his own restaurant. This calmed his down. Maybe it would work at a time like this in real life. Maybe Alice goes off to Wonderland, too.

By the way, Clooney's apprentice inadvertently almost messed up his good lifestyle of being on the road three hundred and twenty days a year, staying at the best places, driving the best cars, and eating at the finest places (I won't mention the woman here, but you get the point). Yes, his apprentice convinced his boss that they could save eighty-five percent of these costs by SKYPING the victims. Yes, you heard that right. The firm hatchet person sits in Chicago in front of a webcam and flushes someone's world down the toilet via their webcam in Hoboken, or wherever.

Clooney did have a point with this in his protest, at least give them the dignity of a face to face, one to one, mano y manna send-off. I agree with him on this point, at least to us Baby Boomers. The more years you are in the workforce, the more time you are at a place, they might be pulling the rug out from under you, but at least do it with attempted dignity and respect.

Having said that, I think the webcam idea might work with the Generation X. They were born with a mouse in their mouth. They build their first computers by five and program the software by ten. Their whole world these days is social networking, twitter, facebook, and gaming. Whereas we boomers may have friends in the neighborhood or town, they have close friends all over the world, whom they have never met face to face. The live their lives via technology, I supposed technology would be an appropriate avenue of career demise.

Clooney's love story was not enough to hold my wife. She was the one who wanted to see the movie in the first place and just tolerated the movie as events unfolded. I found the movie to be an interesting cluster of ideas along my profession. I would give the movie ***.

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