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Posts Tagged ‘job loss’

Photo Credit: Offbeat Photography @Flickr

Photo Credit: Offbeat Photography @Flickr

They’ve been out of the job market for years.

Parents mean well, but they can give a lot of useless advice to their kids.

Especially when it comes to job searching. If your parents have been at the same place since you were in high school – they most likely haven’t had to actively look for a job in quite some time.

That being said, when they gripe at you about not finding a job – their perspective is referenced from a job market that existed 1o to 15 years ago.

Of course, they’ll bring up anecdotes about that time they were unemployed for a year in 1983 or how they had to look for a job in the bubble of the 1990s – it still won’t compare to your job search.

Why? Because they haven’t had to look for a job now.

Their contacts are in the same boat

If your parents are in the same boat as this guy – their connections may not be as strong as they once were. Since older job seekers entering the market haven’t had to look for a job in ages, they’ve probably become a little lazy and insulated from the necessities of keeping a fresh (and relevant) network.

Despite building up powerful contacts – there’ s no guarantee that your Baby Boomer parents can capitalize on them like they could several years ago.

And, by the time your Mom or Dad hits the job market – their contacts may have dwindled (if not disappeared).

The same places that won’t hire you will hire your parents

Nowadays, employers are taking advantages of the blood fest going on in the job market. Seizing upon the opportunity, they can now doubly trade in on getting cheap experience – even if it means hiring baby boomers to work at a fraction of what they could really make.

So why hire you when cheap labor comes at a better price by hiring an applicant that has twice the experience?

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Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

While looking up research on dating and the unemployed, I ran across this article.

Might not be safe for work – take heed.

I began to wonder how sex and romance are affected for an unemployed woman when she’s in a relationship. And… when she’s not.

I’ve been unemployed and in love (sometimes, even at the same time). Usually, however, it seems that my love life is tanking at the exact same moment when my career is heading somewhere. Then, the polar opposite crops up as my professional life is heading towards a quasi-black hole – I find Mr. Right (For Now).  

In other instances, people have used their personal relationships as reasons behind bad job performance…most likely because they are looking for an external reason to hate a crappy job in the first place.

In truth, my love life has (in)directly caused a crappy job performance.  I know all that stuff advocating the separation of work and personal dramas, but that’s a real dream. It’s like trying to separate yourself from your own skin. Theoretically, you can ignore it and pretend it’s not there, not take care of it and tell everyone the pimples they see are actually stress bumps.

But eventually, you’ll have to do something about it if you aren’t interested in looking like a pimple-infested, pus oozing weirdo.

It’s the maintenance that keeps the breakouts from coming.  Relationships (and sex) are the same. You can pretend it’s not there because they are relatively easy to start yet, it’s the maintenance (or lack thereof) that can be the true killer.

OK – back to sex and the (sometimes single) unemployed woman.  This has been on my mind because there is lots of talk about dating on a budget, dating in a recession, dating when you are unemployed – blah blah blah.

But, in a meandering way – these articles aren’t getting to the nitty gritty of what I want to know.  Are women just as likely to sleep with a man when he is unemployed versus when he isn’t? Would men date a woman who is unemployed?  Are unemployed women equally stressed in their sex lives like men?

Women are connected to work differently than men – they are connected to sex differently than men. So, when they are canned and there’s no sweetie to warm the covers with – how likely (and how fast) are they going to become disconnected from sex before they become disconnected from their career motivations?

And stop – I don’t want to hear any crap about how people should “only look at the personality” or shouldn’t judge others on such “superficial” things. Wanting to date someone who has a job (and legal means of income) is not superficial.

Men are just as likely as women to judge your dating “merit” on your ability to get a job or hold one.

So, when there is no job – is there still just as much sex for a woman?

Penelope Trunk touched upon this when she blogged that more sex will be a coming trend in the recession. And, as condom sales go up – that must mean men (and women) are smacking more tail than they could when 8 hours of their day was devoted to working it for the man – no pun intended.

Or, maybe people are anticipating more sex because now they can spend part of their unemployment check (and job searching hours) at the bars? Or, opting to stay at home (assuming they are not at home alone)?

Besides the unavoidable see-sawing – one’s sex life is also in a constant roller coaster as well. Even when we’re in steady, great relationships – it doesn’t change the fact that your better half is not working.  Things have inevitably steered into a different course, particularly, if your partner is demanding more sex (or not demanding any).

What is the quality of a woman’s sex life when she is unemployed? Do women associate the same kinds of stress from being out of work like men (and have it manifest in their sex life)? Maybe it’s really about priorities. Women don’t prioritize (or categorize) sex the same way men do.

So, if the quality of their professional lives takes a hit – a woman’s sex life remains unaffected because women tend not to singularly indentify their personal worth with their jobs like men do.  

For someone like me – who will be gainfully unemployed for a year in a few weeks – there hasn’t been much change in my love life pre-unemployment. There have been moments when I began to wonder if something was wrong because I hadn’t found anything yet.

However, momentary crushing moments of self-doubt haven’t affected me to the point where I’ve morphed into something else entirely – like Paul Nawrocki.

I don’t know. Maybe I should get a job as a sexpert instead.

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Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Narrowing your scope – keeping your eyes on the (stupid) prize

Instead of broadening your vision for the future, you’re worrying (a bit too much) about finding your next job. Obviously, if you have bills to pay and mouths to feed – your sense of urgency is more immediate.

Yet, even with (or without) those things, the unemployed rigidly stick to making it next to the hurdle. Remember: it’s only during the breaks and stop gaps that we get to recoup, reinvent and restabilize where our career and life are heading.

In the end, a job is what you want – but that narrow focus can cause you to miss other opportunities that may not present themselves again. The problem is not finding a job – it is keeping yourself sane (and satisfied) while you look for one.

The trick: Remembering what you like to do when you actually had this much time on your hands

Expecting more of the same (over and over again)

In other words, your Plan A is also your Plan B, and C and so on. As a seasoned job hopper, I’ve always been able to bounce back. I’m not going to blame the economy or my (lack of) willpower (OK, maybe just a little).  Instead, the disease of my indifference to job hopping  can be a suitable scapegoat for this scenario.

Job hopping is not always hopping up – sometimes you need to slip a rung or two if you want to add to your skill arsenal. If you jump from one professional venture to the other without much forethought, you may doom yourself to unrealistic expectations of the job market (and your place in it).

This is tricky territory because job hopping has a mixed bag of positives and negatives. In this case, if you have been job hopping within an industry in a downturn –  reasonably tweak your expectations. If you are looking for a career change, be prepared to make broad exceptions.

Question to answer: Is it time for career change, industry change or a change altogether?

Embracing Agoraphobia – in a big way

Some of the (un)expected side effects of joblessness is the amount of freedom and time that is suddenly thrust upon you. Nonetheless, you haven’t left the house in days. Maybe, like most job seekers, you are patrolling Internet job sites, mass emailing potential employers, contacts and God-knows-who else.

You’re glued to your computer looking for opportunities that might not be there. Yet, a lot of this activity is solitary in nature and only compounds the reality that you are not in an office or surrounded by other people. 

Life becomes radically different when the usual 8 hours is not dictated by someone else. It feels liberating… at first. Yet, for some, the sheer velocity of trying to maintain and create a centered routine can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself the task of being active outside your home as well as within it.

If you go somewhere as prosaic as a coffee shop and read The Onion – that’s fine. Immerse yourself in an environment where there will be people, voices, noise and activity.

If you are introverted (like me) you’ll only leave as soon as you get there to relieve yourself of the stress of being in a crowded environment. Don’t. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with the world outside your home.

Don’t sequester yourself from it.

Today’s Task: Leave the house. Immediately.

You aren’t working for free

Unemployment doesn’t mean unproductive. When given 8 hours to do whatever we see fit – the monkeys start to escape from the cages.  Volunteering while you are out of work can be your saving grace. You already know that the best job development comes at the highest price: your time.

So, don’t waste hours in front of a Monster job board when you could be learning something you always wanted.

Or, if you find the right opportunity, you’re developing the “defining moments” of your career. Usually, this means giving yourself the incentive to move on to something else while working on something new.

Semantics vs. Perspective: Think of it as a job sabbatical

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Jaboney @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Jaboney @ Flickr

If it were up to you – would you really work for a living? That’s a funny phrase. Working for a living. What’s that mean nowadays when so many people are living to work to survive?

Right now, I’m marginally attached to the workforce. I work weird hours (when I want to) and participate in volunteer projects at my leisure. No, I’m not independently wealthy. But, I don’t consider myself to be unemployed. Instead, maybe I’m “semi-retired.” While most of my out of work colleagues won’t feel the same way about unemployment like I do, I feel that semi-retiredness is out of necessity, not out of choice.

Presently, I can spend a lot of my time looking for jobs I truly want.  I’m not beholden to my 45 minute “lunch hour.” I can be flexible with people I want to connect (and network) with. It’s not ideal. I won’t say that some days aren’t especially tough for me. And, when you spend months and years being productive (for someone else), it’s hard to have it come to an abrupt stop or (for you lucky few) have it become cut in half.

There are lots of questions behind how to fill your unemployed hours of the day. I think the simple stigma of unemployment is that you will run out of money. And, since you are not working, it feels you aren’t doing something meaningful, productive and responsible.

You, nonetheless, never run out responsibilities. You have rent, mortgage, kids, spouses, sicknesses, habits to supply and misdeeds to fund – anything, everything. But, even if you had a job, those responsibilities won’t disappear. You still have student debt to pay and groceries to buy. Money only makes handling that stuff easier.

It doesn’t necessarily make anything any better. Yet, people sometimes insist on narrowly placing meaning on the activities they do for 8 hours a day in an office. But, meaningfulness is not merely created in a cube or a vacuum or a job or a work title.

It’s more alive than that. It’s 3-dimensional and fluid. It requires 3 million bits of ideas and all of them breathe from the life you live. So, the time you spend being productive while not working demonstrates just as much (if not more) about meaningfulness than the time you spend being productive on the job (for someone else).

As a semi-retiree, I like to think that my professional “pauses” are my respites. Whether I needed them or not. Whether I wanted them or not. I can’t do much about the state of the economy and the job losses except complain. And, I don’t get paid to complain. But, I do get paid to be productive regardless of the financial value or if I’m employed.

Therefore, I’ll continue my volunteer work, my job searching and my networking.  I’ll continue being semi-retired. I’ll continue doing the things that get me in tune with others.  Being unemployed doesn’t mean you become disconnected from being productive. And, it doesn’t mean you are being irresponsible or losing meaning.

It means I can continue being thankful. I can continue to do all those other things that fill up the hours of my day. I can remain feeling meaningful and valuable. I can continue being connected and feeling worthwhile.

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paul-nawrockiA while ago, I wrote a post about an email I sent to Ms. Trunk asking her thoughts about a certain sandwich board wearing job seeker.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Nawrocki responded. I thought, however, it would also be appropriate to post Mr. Nawrocki’s comments in the same fashion:

I am the man in the sandwich board. I don’t know who Penelope Trunk is but I would be curious if her “3 startups” are still in business.

In any event, I can assure you I do not have a personality disorder, nor am I depressed. angry or lacking the knowledge of what to do when looking for a job.

Penelope said “He’s been unemployed for nine months, which means he could not get a job when there was nearly 0% unemployment for people under 40.”

Apparently she is unaware that I am not under 40, not under 50, but in fact 59. I made a conscious decision to put on the sandwich board while dressed in business attire because I knew it was a provocative image and could not go unnoticed. I am daily getting E Mails and phone calls from people my age who are in exactly the same position I am.

They are constantly doing all the things they are told to do and getting absolutely no response. They feel invisible, and my image has made an invisible group suddenly visible.

Since my interviews on CNN I am now getting interviews and calls. My resume is now at the top of the pile. I suggest that Penelope take a good look at her own personality and realize that she could actually use one.

Maybe in 25 years if we have another recession and she suddenly finds herself out of work, feeling invisible and ignored, and confused about why she is where she is, she may actually discover something she sorely lacks right now and that is empathy.

But then wisdom is something that only comes with age, something those “under 40″ people have yet to learn.

I think Mr. Nawrocki comes on a little strong regarding the under 40 set. There’s no one size fits all technique to finding a job – sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

And, in Mr. Nawrocki’s case, this obviously works for him. I just don’t think that being so extreme  or “provocative” can work for everybody – and it gets a little old after awhile (no pun intended).

If you are feeling invisible, maybe it’s because you’ve screamed the same message so much – others have become deaf to it.

And, it’s not that people don’t want to listen, but the same complaint can start to sound like whining. If you are going to whine about being unemployed – make it work for you.

Instead of spending his money and precious time handing out mass resumes and constructing a sandwich board to don in Times Square – Mr. Nawrocki could’ve better spent his time working on the fledgling website  (and perhaps his own blog) that was created for him to broadcast his current job plight.

Whether or not Mr. Nawrocki has a personality disorder, he’s getting some great publicity nonetheless – if only we could all be so lucky.

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gift1Bad News: Massive Layoffs have pushed Unemployment to 6.7%
Good News: 93.3 % of us still have jobs

Are you helping anybody else find one?

The news of additional job layoffs is especially disheartening around the holidays.

Spread some goodwill by keeping on the lookout for jobs in your industry or company and connecting them to others in need of employment.

When we work to help others, we inevitably help ourselves. This is no time to be selfish, hunker down and hope to ride out the storm unscathed.

Link others with opportunities so you strengthen your connection to the investment pool of goodwill. In doing so, you’ll discover the ROI will be tenfold.

And besides, at this time of year – the best gift is the one that keeps on giving.

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pink-slipA good friend of mine was recently fired from her job a few months ago. She’s still mighty steamed about it. I’ve been a good pal – we meet up every now and then so she can complain about her former employer.

But, she’s beginning to bum me out. I’ve gotten a little tired of the hour-long gripe sessions, and personally, I don’t think I’m helping her by indulging the resentment.

During our last (and maybe final) gripe fest, I tell her, “They didn’t like you anyway – why do you care?”

Her response?

“I just don’t think it was fair. I didn’t even get a performance evaluation – how can you let someone go when you don’t even tell them what they’re doing wrong?!”

That’s easy. They didn’t like you enough to bother with the details. Performance evaluations are moot nowadays because a good employee knows they’re a good employee – a great performance evaluation is just icing on the cake.

If you need a performance evaluation to know how you are doing – you are doomed. But this post is not about why or why not employers should use evaluations – this is simply about getting fired – and a few reasons why.

Principle

This is one of those obvious no-no’s that get you the pink slip. Maybe you embezzled money, leaked company secrets or violated internet policy by inundating your company’s server with bad porn (eh, is there such a thing as good porn? Oh, I digress…).

When you recklessly violate company policy, rules or other professional mores, you can count on getting that “emergency” meeting at 2 pm on a Tuesday and finding yourself without a job.

Unfortunately, when things like that happen – serious emotional issues are at play (and more than likely, self-sabotage). Sometimes, even the seemingly “harmless” things can set an employer to fire you (like blogging about your job or dating a co-worker) – but that’s a risk we take when we decide to blur the lines between the personal and the professional.

Usually, in those cases, you do deserve to be out of work, at least for a while.

My pal didn’t violate any company rules – she’s quite an ethical person, but that didn’t save her from getting canned.

Perception

Keeping a job is just as much about image control as it is about implementing skill. Did it seem like you wanted to be there? Did people “feel” your enthusiasm for your work?

It doesn’t matter if you are the most talented, hardest worker in the department, if no one knows about it – you are just another bee in the hive.  I hate using this cliche, but the “perception is reality” thing seems to be the rampant mantra amongst managers and execs.

“Suzy seems to always know what to do next – she’s so smart.” Ever heard that before? It doesn’t matter if you really are doing anything mind boggling or saving the company from inevitable chaos – if you are associated with doing so, people will think you are accomplishing a whole lot more than you actually are.

For example, I worked with a guy named “Ben” who supported a group of directors in my department. I never really knew what Ben did for them because his group was always approaching me and the other support staff for help. They’d preface their requests by saying,”Ben is so busy, I don’t want to bother him – do you think you can help me?”

Are you kidding?

But yes, it’s true. Since Ben could talk louder than anyone on the phone, disappear for mysterious amounts of time and shuffle bunches of paper at his desk – his team thought he was even too busy to support them.

In reality, Ben was a desk slob who spent copious amounts of time away from his desk in favor of hanging out with pals from other departments. Depending on whom you ask – Ben was really busy.

See what I mean about perception?

But smoke and mirrors aside, perception is probably the least of your worries since people who are really and truly engaged in their work  – actually appear to be so.

Personality, Politics & Performance

These three concepts kind of mesh and mingle with another. There are highly capable and talented people floating all over the Earth, but their personalities suck and they are in constant professional turmoil (whether or not they have a job).

As I’m sure you already know, perfectly nice, well-mannered, sociable, happy and likeable people keep their jobs – jerks and jackasses do not.

Jerks and jackasses, however, that do succesfully navigate office politics do maintain their jobs.

My friend did not want to admit to herself that it didn’t matter if she had an evaluation or not – her boss (and maybe her co-workers even more so) didn’t like her. She was having trouble integrating with the department and she felt out of sync.

Often, she’d complain she was under utilized (not that she really minded because she admitted to just spinning her wheels). There was an uneasy relationship with another co-worker and the person complained about her constantly.

Her performance wasn’t up to par because she learned – too late – about the importance of properly handling the politics and personalities of her co-workers. 

Despite the “best” of efforts, it just didn’t work out. I’d say she’s better off, if anything, the bittersweet lesson will prepare her for the next job she takes.

Therefore…

So, what does that mean for someone like you? You got the boot. Ask yourself this: did you really like working there in the first place? Was it offering you the growth you needed to pursue the next step?

If it did or you actually liked the job – I’m truly sorry. That’s terrible, but please remember that the Career Gods didn’t stop creating jobs when they made that one.

Keep your chin up.

But, if you didn’t like the job and people got on your nerves – please get off your very high horse and grow up. You can’t reasonably expect to keep a job you disliked or where you disliked the people (and vice versa). 

And if they didn’t like you or you didn’t like the work – so whatBad jobs are a dime a dozen – and getting canned from one doesn’t make you a soulless cretin or a professionally incompetent lout. Or, maybe you are one of those things, but I’m sure you are taking steps to work on that 🙂

Assuming that you know what it takes to keep a job, getting fired doesn’t mean that you can’t still think of yourself as the multi-faceted, interesting and fabulous person you always were – you just happened to work some place where the people didn’t agree.

And that’s OK because you didn’t like them anyway.

Move on and take this experience as one of life’s hard to swallow, bitter pills. It’s ill-advised to remain pissed off at what amounts to a blip on your professional radar screen. Remember that when you land the next (wonderfully better and professionally fulfilling) job.

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