Monthly Archives: August 2011

Living Through Layoffs.

We’re a country where careers are often part of our identity, and you don’t suddenly yank that part of a person out without ripping up the rest.

So, in the midst of a miserable economy, when layoffs have become so common they’re met with shrugs rather than shock, the questions on the minds of a sorrowful number of Americans are: How do I pick up the pieces and put them back together? How do I weather the loss of a job and, more important, find a new one when the number of openings is but a sliver of the number of candidates?

I’ve received many questions along these lines, questions for which there is no singular answer. Individual situations differ. Some fields are growing; some are waning. Where you live might play a role. And there are times when finding a job comes down to nothing more than good fortune.

But after casting lines out to an array of people who specialize in helping others find jobs and talking to folks who got laid off and recently made it back into the workforce, I can at least offer some general advice.

The one constant is: You cannot give up hope.

Easy for me to say, sitting behind a computer with a paycheck coming Friday. People out of work for two years with barely an interview to show for their search will shake their heads, and I understand that.

But whether you want to hear it or not, it’s a mantra that a job hunter must maintain. Because if you surrender hope, you’re done.

Rocki-Lee DeWitt, a management professor at the University of Vermont, said: “The point I usually make and say is, ‘Think about it if you were in business. Do you want to be hiring people who are down in the mouth and weary and so forth?’ The pragmatic aspect of it is you need a positive attitude; you need to have perseverance, no matter how hard it is. That’s not being Pollyanna. It’s just saying that you’re responsible for your employability.”

J.T. O’Donnell, chief executive of, said it’s up to each individual to steel themselves, no matter how deep the pile of rejection letters.

“Look at it this way,” she said. “You sit and blow off company after company every day, without a blink of an eye. You ignore their ads or don’t buy their products and feel no remorse for that. Do those companies get mad at you? No. It was their job to attract your attention, and they failed. They keep trying.”

Celina Green, 45, of Los Angeles, lost her job in human resources about a year and a half ago. She got some contract work and was on and off unemployment.

“It’s OK during the first six months,” she said. “But after you’ve exhausted all your savings and your 401(k), reality sets in, and you can barely afford your rent or car payment or medical coverage.”

She struggled to keep from becoming bitter while dealing with unresponsive recruiters and indecisive hiring managers.

“I kind of dived into some volunteer work,” Green said. “I needed to heal. When those kinds of things happen, you start having self-doubt. What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t they bending over backward to hire me? The volunteer work helped me realize there are people who are in even more dire situations. I stopped thinking about myself and stopped being self-consumed.”

Just recently, Green got a full-time HR job. One of the steps she took involved creating a “bucket list” of the top companies she wanted to work for, writing out small pieces describing why she wanted to work for them and what she felt she could contribute to each.

“Taking those pieces helped me develop a very focused cover letter,” Green said.

O’Donnell said Green’s approach is a part of the “marketing plan” that every job seeker needs to form.

“Just sending out 1,000 resumes isn’t going to get you anywhere,” O’Donnell said. “If you’re just spraying and praying, you’re not building any sort of a job search. The ‘automated job search’ concept is not working, and people are using an antiquated approach to networking.”

Her point is that networking is not just setting up a LinkedIn account and going to job fairs. It’s trying to get at people inside companies, not asking them for a job but asking them to meet for coffee or informational interviews.

“My best example is a young woman I worked with who wanted to work for ESPN,” O’Donnell said. “She was an anthropology major. No connection to sports marketing. She wound up going through a series of five informational interviews at ESPN. Each one she’d ask, ‘Who else should I talk to in the organization about this? Who could I learn more from?’ She winds up getting a phone call from a hiring manager at ESPN, he interviews her and then they hire her because so many other people met her and liked her.”

Bentley Patterson, 52, lives in northern Colorado and just started a job as a project manager with a Microsoft consulting services group. He hadn’t had a paycheck since February 2010.

The job came about, he said, because he kept his head up and networked fearlessly with people he knows, from close friends to mere acquaintances: “What worked for me was going back and touching base with people I had worked with in the past, either clients or co-workers, as far back as I remember, just calling and saying, ‘Hey, hi, I’m in this situation. Can you help me?’ You can’t put hints out. You have to come right out and say it.

“I think people are shy, and they’re also embarrassed about their situation. Most people you talk to who you might ask for help, they understand what’s going on out there. And, in general, people like to help people, but you have to be pretty direct about asking for that help.”

A post-layoff job search is not just about livelihood, it’s about reassembling the portion of you that was blown apart. I can’t offer a magic solution for that. Nobody can.

At the end of the day, what other choice is there but to hang on?  Source:  Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune.


Using Mobile Apps For Job Boards.

If you’re part of the 97% of the US population with a cell phone, you most likely use it for more than phoning. And if you’re part of the burgeoning subset with an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone, I can guarantee that you use it for all sorts of serious (and silly) stuff.

Looking for work (or keeping your fingers on your neck of the employment market) is possible on a smart phone. It may not be able to replace the desktop experience (yet), but it can be done. (And if you run a job board, you should realize that much of your candidate audience is moving to this platform – whether you do or not).

I looked at 7 different apps for the Android (I don’t have an iPhone – if you do and have an opinion about a job board app, let me know). They ranged from moderately sophisticated to fairly rudimentary. Being relatively new to smartphones but somewhat knowledgeable about job search, I tried to approach the apps like a job seeker. I was looking for ease of use, ability to deliver results, and ability to do on a smartphone what I can do on a desktop. In essence, I wanted to know if I would considering using one of these apps for job hunting – or if I would rely on my trusty desktop instead. Here’s what I found:  Read more:

KPMG Launches App To Help Job Search For College Students.

NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, announced today the release of the KPMG GO app for iPhone® and iPad®, designed to provide tips and information to help college students in every major launch their job search in today’s competitive employment environment.

Available for download in the Apple iTunes Store, KPMG’s new application delivers fresh videos, articles, blog posts, Q&As, and branding tips from its partners as well as its professionals in HR and campus recruiting.

“Today’s students face a very competitive market and need every advantage to make a good impression and secure that first job,” said Blane Ruschak, KPMG’s executive director of university relations and recruiting. “We are excited to offer a resource that provides helpful and practical advice to young adults entering the job market.”  Read more or the release here.

%d bloggers like this: