Recession Unemployment: What to do When You’re Laid Off in a Recession

How to shake off some of the effects of the recession.

There’s an old joke about the definition of economic hard times: It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours. Based on what’s happening to people I know, it seems we’re in a pretty deep recession.

My friend the marketing director was let go last week because her job no longer fit the “paradigm.” Two months ago, she had been given a promotion. A friend in sales has been looking for a job for months. My niece, who had been downsized from a faltering dot.com, landed a job with a small publisher whose last two payroll checks have bounced. And a neighbor of mine – here’s the bromide come to life – lost his job because his employer is facing tough times.

So what do you do if you’re the one affected?

First, let it all out. Take a day off and rail against the fates, complain about the stupidity of your former employer, and wallow in self-pity. Give in to fear, self-loathing and anger. But make it a one-day-only marathon. The next morning, get up and get to work on the job of getting a job. Even if you’ve received a severance package and can afford to take a few weeks off, start job hunting immediately. It’s better for you now, and you’ll appreciate it later.

Second, do everything. Maybe it’s natural optimism – or laziness – but if we go on one interview or answer one want ad, we tend to postpone other efforts because we wait to see what happens. Baloney! Become your own drill sergeant, and instead of making yourself do an extra 10 push-ups, force yourself to write 10 more letters. Keep doing everything you can until you accept a job. What’s the worst that will happen? You’ll get two job offers simultaneously.

Third, split your efforts. Spend half your day responding to ads, identifying companies you want to work for, and writing letters. Look in local newspapers, trade publications, online services, and company Websites. When using newspapers and searching online, use as wide a definition of yourself as possible. Employers may not necessarily label what they’re looking for in your terms, so if you call yourself a bookkeeper, for instance, look at jobs under the heading “junior accountant.”

Spend the rest of the day talking to people or, as it has come to be known, networking. If you’re shy and cringe at the thought of calling people and bothering them, snap out of that ridiculous mindset this instant. As long as you are polite and considerate, you’re not bothering anyone – you are helping them find someone who might help them solve a work problem – that’s really the definition of a job, isn’t it? You’d help an acquaintance if he or she called to find out if your company needed help. So don’t hesitate to call or write as many people as possible who might need someone like you – or who might know of an organization that does. This imperfect, seemingly random way of looking for a job is probably the way you are going to find it, as most jobs are found on the “hidden job market.”

So get going.

(C) Copyright 2001 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by Paradigm News, Inc.

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