The isolation that comes with a constrained social life adds to the worry by Sparkes that his extended job search would compound his problem. The longer goes the hunt, the less likely his circle will be there to help.
Its like offering to help someone paint their house. You might go there a weekend or two... but when it stretches to seven months, it gets old, he said. You have to be careful with how you feel about yourself. You have to stay positive, or people will subconsciously pull back.
In recent days, Sparkes reported some good news. Two companies talked to him about taking senior financial positions, and hes optimistic hell land a position by next week.
For Charles, the former bank manager, the past three years were made harder by having to pay medical bills for his adult son. He has found that his extensive bank experience wasnt enough to compensate for the lack of a college degree, so hes taking online business classes from Broward College.
You have to do what you can, Charles said near a table for a Fort Lauderdale staffing firm that supplies employees to doctor offices.
The free fair managed by the Job News employment website opened its doors at 10 a.m in Davies Signature Grand event hall. By 8 a.m., 750 people were in line, said Tiffany Price, general sales manager for the company. By noon, participants had picked up all of the flyers and materials Job News had laid out, despite another two hours to go. The lines to enter the banquet room with employers booths stretched so far into the halls lobby that it was difficult to tell where it began.
Nearby, Cassandra Weston waited to hand her resumé to an accounting firm, hoping her business training would land her a position. The longtime employee for Broward Countys Health Department lost her job in September, and with it the luxury of keeping up her daily routines.
Right now, I dont turn on my air conditioner, the 52-year-old said. I had money to buy gas. I ride my bike now.
Employed, Weston would visit Fort Lauderdales Swap Shop at least three times a week to shop. Now she only goes there Thursday mornings, when vendors at the flea market can set up for free. For $17 on those mornings, Weston says she can purchase all the fruits and vegetables she needs for a weeks worth of fish stews and fresh juices.
I take care of myself now, she said. Because I cant afford to go to the doctor.
HeraldSource, part of the Public Insight Network, contributed to this article. To learn more about the network or to join, visit MiamiHerald.com/insight.