TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Tess Vigeland: There are signs of life in the job market. The Labor Department reported this week that the private sector added 159,000 jobs in October, though the unemployment rate remains stagnant at 9.6 percent. So the economy is still a pumpkin, and jobless Americans are still looking for that glass slipper. You remember who comes to the rescue now, right?
Hayley Taylor: It’s time to get America back to work.
“Fairy Jobmother” is a new reality show on the Lifetime channel and the latest television import from Britain. Hayley Taylor is the woman with the magic jobs wand. She takes eight families from across the country, households with someone who has been unemployed for at least six months and tries to coach them out of their situation. Take a little family therapy…
Taylor: What I want to deal with first is your relationship and the lack of communication in it.
Add practical tips for the job interview…
Taylor: Please remember to say “please.”
And a dash of tough love…
Taylor: The last job you applied for, when was it?
Man: About three weeks ago.
Taylor: That should’ve been three hours ago.
And you’ve got the Fairy Jobmother’s secret potion. Hayley Taylor joins us now. Welcome to the program.
Taylor: Hi, how are you?
Vigeland: I’m very well, thank you. You say a couple of times in the first episode that you wanna get to the bottom of why people can’t find work. So, I think people’s first notion would be, “Well, it’s because there aren’t any jobs.” What’s beyond that?
Taylor: I would say to that there are jobs, but there are less jobs. These individual families in the episodes that you will see are all suffering symptoms of low self belief, they’re totally dysfunctional within the family life, they’re in debt — there are so many elements rolled into the effects of unemployment. And I want to get them out there; it is very very difficult for them to see a way forward.
Vigeland: And so you spend a day observing the family and then you come back with your recommendations.
Taylor on show: We’ve spoken a little bit about how you lost a lot of confidence. You’ve got to have confidence to go into work. And you’ve also got to have confidence in the way you look, the way that you dress.
Vigeland: You know, you talk a lot about self-confidence — you know, if you lack confidence, you can’t find a job. But if you don’t have a job that may be a reason why you’re not self-confident; it’s a bit of a vicious cycle, isn’t it?
Taylor: What I would say is there is a difference between confidence and self-esteem. Self-esteem is how you feel on the inside about yourself, but confidence is what you portray on the outside. You know, inside now, I’m absolutely quavering, because you’re talking to me, but probably I look really really confident.
Vigeland: It’s just radio! It’s not even television.
Taylor: Yeah, but it’s nerves and it’s the same for everybody, no matter what they do. And you know, you can fool someone into thinking you are a lot more confident than what you are. And that is what I always say to the people that I work with: The outside first impression is absolutely fundamental.
Vigeland: It seems like even just the language that you’re using today and certainly the language you use in the show, you’re almost a therapist to your clients.
Taylor: You know, it’s really strange, because the one thing I’m not is a qualified counselor, although I studied psychology and I was a communications skills. You pick so much up by working with people day in, day out. Plus, they say to me, “You’re our last resort. You’re the last hope.” And when someone is pinning on you, you have got to do everything in your power to move them on, and that is what I do in “Fairy Jobmother.”
Vigeland: You went through something pretty similar in your life. I know your husband was laid off.
Taylor: That’s right.
Vigeland: How much of that experience informs how you’re now working with jobless folks?
Taylor: You know, I would say, probably, 20 percent is my qualifications and years of experience working with the unemployed. The rest of it is life skills. I mean, my husband had been in a job for 10 years, and then he found himself redundant. At that time, our daughter was one years old. I was obviously a stay-at-home mom with her at that point, and we had no money coming in. And the he became a victim — when he did get back to work — of underemployment, where he had to go and do a far far less skilled job. And that is what you do, and that’s why I think I can relate so much.
Vigeland: What about the stigma that I think a lot of people face when they’ve been unemployed for weeks and months on end. What’s the best way to deal with that and kind of pick up and keep that job search going?
Taylor: What I would say is to forget that stigma, because there are so many people out there in the same boat. And they just need that break, and I think that if every employer out there would just give people a chance by letting them work possibly for a week, unpaid, and considering giving them a reference if they do a good job, then that would go a long way to dispelling the stigma that’s attached.
Vigeland: Hayley Taylor is “The Fairy Jobmother” on a new series on Lifetime. It’s been awfully fun talking to you. Thanks so much.
Taylor: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
Vigeland: Reality TV isn’t the only cultural sign post for this era of unemployment. Have you seen the new comic book, “The Adventures of Unemployed Man” and his sidekick Plan B? They do daily battle with classic villains, including The Man and Human Resources. We came up with a few recession-inspired super heroes ourselves: Pink Slip, super heroine who wages war on unjust layoffs; Staycationer, who fights crimes on vacation and without ever leaving the house.
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