Lake Highlands homeowner Glen Turbyfill is a member of the ever-growing work force that typifies America in the 1990s.

His full-time job is finding a job.

Turbyfill, 52, has more than 20 years experience as a strategic accounts manager in the computer services field, but he has been looking diligently and persistently for a job for more than a year. Every week, he sends out resumes and answers ads and does his networking. However, all he can say for certain at this point is: “I am still not re-employed.”

Talk about culture shock.

“They used to say, ‘Get a business degree, get a business degree and you’re covered.’ That’s not true anymore,” says Glenda Shearer, supervisor of placement for the Texas Employment Commission office that serves the North Central/Richardson/Plano high-tech corridor.

The stereo-type of the unemployed worker – undereducated and lazy – has changed, Shearer says. As many as 90 percent of the people registered in her office, where many Lake Highlands residents register for unemployment, are white-collar professionals, she says.

Since July 1992, the Richardson-Plano branch office of the TEC has averaged about 1,454 new claims a month.

Turbyfill says he had been a successful accounts manager, serving a dozen clients in 11 cities and taking down a six-figure salary when he became a victim of the recession-induced trend toward cutting middle managers – after 16 years with Digital Equipment Corporation.

Since then, he has touched all of the recommended bases: networking, support groups, outplacement services and sending out resumes, and he is still looking.

“Looking for a job is a full-time job, and that is how I’ve approached it,” Turbyfill says. “I’ve spent time networking with everyone I knew in the computer business. But they’ve held things close to the vest because they are afraid they might lose their jobs, too.”

Finding oneself qualified for jobs but unable to land one has depressed many people in Turbyfill’s predicament.

“Psychologically, the first thing you think of is that this is bad and I hate it,” he says. “I’m skilled, experienced, capable, and I’m willing to accept less money than I was making. I’ve never let a week go by without sending out at least five resumes, but I bet I haven’t gotten four interviews from that. The other interviews I’ve had have come from networking.”

Networking is the primary goal of support groups, such as one that Turbyfill guided for nine months at Scofield Memorial Church in Lake Highlands, where he and his wife are members. These groups provide job leads, but more importantly they offer contact with other job seekers who know who’s who in target companies.

Support groups can lead to interviews, he says, “but mostly they lead you to someone who knows someone on the inside of a company, so that you can go (into an interview) as a known quantity. That’s vital, because it’s rare today for anyone to get a job without networking or being a known quantity going in. The groups are also good for emotional support.”

In addition to the group, Turbyfill has relied on “the friendship and support I get from the church. That is the big thing that keeps me going.”

Resource Dallas, a support group for financial professionals at Wilshire Baptist Church in East Dallas, is two years old. Attendance remains constant, says moderator Drew Dorsey, himself unemployed for nine months.

“It’s definitely as bad for professionals as it’s ever been,” says Dorsey. “Middle managers have been the hardest-hit group and have seen little to no improvements in their job market. Ninety-five percent of the jobs referred to our group are classified as entry-level as far as salary offered.

“It’s extremely difficult.”

That’s something Turbyfill knows first-hand.

“The one response you get 95 percent of the time is ‘You’re over-qualified.’ To me, what they’re saying is, ‘You’ve made too much money in the past, we’re not offering that much, and we don’t think you’ll be happy here making less.’ At 52, that’s my biggest obstacle.

“Another thing I’ve seen is that there are younger managers, and they would prefer not to have older people working for them. I know that as a manager I had some of the same feelings.”

And what does the future hold? It’s going to get better, says Rick Wilson, an economist at the University of Texas at Arlington. But Americans have to stop depending on big corporations for employment, unemployed professionals will have to take salary cuts, go with smaller companies and be more mobile and flexible in order to work. But over time, the smaller companies will grow and the professionals will be better off, Wilson says.

“It’s hard to start over when you’re in your 30s and 40s,” says Shearer. “Where are you going to go?

Back to work, if hard work and persistence means anything.