Burt Gitlin, 58
North Bergen, N.J.
Job: Actively looking
Previously: CEO of Bond Bedding, a small custom mattress and box spring company
Gitlin was CEO of Bond Bedding in Hudson County from 1999 to 2012, when it closed due to the economic downturn. Since then, he has volunteered in the wake of Hurricane Sandy while looking for a full-time job. He also uses the career resources available through the Connect to Care program.
Desired position: “I want to work in an organization that can best utilize my vast sales and management skills. I am optimistic that one day during an interview the chemistry is going to be right and the light will go on for both me and my prospective employer.”
On volunteering: “It took a few months to wrap up the business. Then a family friend’s rental unit was affected by Hurricane Sandy. Four feet of water. They got contractors and asked me to act as an expediter and liaison. It’s walking a fine line — you’re a messenger and a doer. This volunteering work has made me realize the skills that I have. And these skills have been sharpened: making everybody feel they’re part of a positive solution.”
Financial effects: “I’ve saved some money, so that’s helped. I’m expecting a significant uptick in the economy. I’m guarded but optimistic.”
On the upside: “You have a lot of time to do a lot of work on yourself. You can truly expand your vistas — and that will help you network, too. I traveled to Washington and went to the National Art Gallery. Or you can stay in the city and go to the Met. You can obtain free computer training through the library.”
On the downside: “Unemployment can be isolating. Having structured work and structured leisure time can help minimize your demons.”