Fly with the Phoenix

The lay of layoff land
May 18, 2009, 2:00 am
Filed under: Career Transitions

Follow these tips to stay focused and keep positive

By Deborah Reinhardt Palmer

The statistics from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center are sobering: an 8-percent unemployment rate in Missouri with 11,000  workers who lost their job in January. If you are employed, keeping focused on your job can be difficult with news such as this hanging over your head. For unemployed people, looking for a job in such an economy can seem almost impossible. Here are a few ideas to help you stay on task, no matter what your employment situation may be, during these disturbing economic times.

Stay focused under pressure
Try to differentiate between paranoia and real signs that point to a pending layoff. Office gossip, coupled with daily news about our weak economy, can cause paranoia. This can  and should be tempered so you can stay focused on the work at hand.

Sharon Reus, owner of Positive Image Communications Company in St. Louis, coaches people making career transitions. She said a negative corporate culture can swirl around you, but donÕt participate in it.

“Respond with a neutral or positive comment when someone starts griping about layoffs,” she said.

And by focusing on your current job, the better your references will be should you need to make a move.

“Success breeds success,” said Reus.

You can also learn to help yourself by learning to read signs that might be pointing a job loss within your department. An article at by online job search expert Susan Joyce lists several signs and action items for you, including:
* listen and watch for any significant changes, such as the departure of key employees–the management typ–and news of new belt-tightening procedures. While these measures may be meant to correct some cash flow problems, they also could be signs of a bigger problem.
*read quarterly and annual reports for information on company profitability. Public companies (those with shares of stock sold in the market) are required to publish such reports. If your company is privately held, look for information in corporate newsletters and other inside publications, although you may need to read between the lines or compare information released earlier see any trends.
finding facts from the outside world. What do voices within your company’s industry say about your employer? Get the buzz from industry communications or seminars.

Moving on with grace
If your gut tells you something is going on, itÕs time to begin your next job search. Update your resume and step up or activate networking practices, but remember to be discreet about this. An employer who confirms a worker is looking for greener pastures can often label that person as a risk, making you an easier target when pink slips are being passed around.

Reus stated the importance of staying connected.

“Allot about an hour a day to mine social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. Post on other people’s blogs. Create an identity online that speaks to who you want to be. Built a tribe. Reach out to people,” she said.

Don’t use a company computer for networking or in your online job hunt. A company has the right (and it’s usually exercised) to monitor what you do with a computer, and this can even lead to a worker’s firing if he or she has violated company policy. Work your networks from home. If you don’t have a home computer with Internet access, visit a public library. Barter services with a friend who has a home computer that’s online; watch the friend’s kids for an evening, then return to their home the next night to use the computer.

If your job looks to be on the chopping block, don’t automatically write off your employer, Reus suggested. “Can you move up or sideways? How might you re-invent yourself in an organization that you know and perhaps love?”

Finally, as much as you’re able, keep a positive outlook. Work at building a nest egg if you haven’t already done so; having something in your savings account reduces anxiety  in transitional situations, which allows you to be more productive in your job search.

“Keep your perspective,”Reus said. “Even in a down economy, people are working. You may have to do some reinvention, but use it as an opportunity.”


1 Comment so far
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I agree completely with this. Staying positive can be a real challenge; especially when bombarded with negative messages from cohorts, the media and the market. It’s better just to tune the gossipers out, turn the TV off and create some “positive time.” Books, hobbies, good movies and exercise are all good outlets.

Expanding your professional network through social media is tremendously. Most jobs are still (and probably always will be) won through networking. Networking through Web sites and social media should not replace face time, but it will multiply productivity in your job hunt many times over.

Comment by Matthew

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