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December 15, 2011

“The only thing constant in life is change.”  Francois La Rochefoucauld

I was reminded of this quote when I read an email from my daughter’s preschool informing me that the facility would be unexpectedly closing its doors.  This sudden change of events was most unwelcome (by me and all the other parents as well as by the teachers who would be losing their jobs).  Just like that the teachers found out they would no longer be employed — no advance warning.  It just brings to mind that not only is change constant, but you must always be prepared for the unexpected.

Keep your resume current.  Maintain a file of kudos and an ongoing list of key projects you complete so it will be easy to make updates to your resume before you find yourself unemployed. When you are in a rush to update your resume, it is very hard to remember your recent accomplishments.

Stay in touch with your contacts. Whether via LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, your network is your lifeline, don’t take it for granted. You never know when you might find yourself suddenly out of a job and needing help. Maintaining connections with your friends and colleagues is vital so that when you need to activate a job search, folks will be willing and able to help you out.

Keep your skills relevant. Try to attend a training or a class that will hone your skills for the type of work you do. Consider getting certified in your field. It is always good to show that you are willing to learn and embrace change.

The more you can do to keep yourself on top of current trends and issues, the easier it will be to know where to look for the few jobs that are available in your field.

It is very competitive still these days to find jobs, you have to do all you can to keep a step ahead…


August 6, 2011

I recently watched a relatively new movie called “The Company Men.”  It is an interesting story that chronicles the lives of three men who all work at the same logistics company in relatively senior level positions who all get laid off due to downsizing. At one point the main character, Bobby, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself in the outplacement services center listening to the career coach who starts encouraging the folks in the group to recite “the Tiger” as it is affectionately known: “I will win. Why?  Because I have faith, courage and enthusiasm.”  This line becomes a sort of mantra for the laid off workers who have been looking for work for a very long time in a very competitive market where there are many more qualified applicants than jobs available. Bobby has a hard time adjusting to being unemployed and while his brother-in-law offers him some construction work, he wants to stay on the MBA track to which he is accustomed.

The national unemployment news continues to be grim.  According to, “The unemployment rate dropped slightly in July – to 9.1%.”  While this number seems to be going in the right direction, what is more worriesome are the numbers of the long-term unemployed.  “The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over), is at 6.2 million – 44.4% of the unemployed – along with the fact that, unless there is new unemployment legislation, extended benefits program will expire at the end of 2011 many unemployed workers will be facing a situation where they have no unemployment compensation at all.”

So, if you find yourself unemployed, what’s next?  Assuming you know the type of work you are interested in pursuing, then strategic networking certainly becomes your best bet when the going gets tough. Tap into your extended network. Consider real time friends and facebook friends, past colleagues, high school/college/grad school buddies, your children’s friends’ parents, fellow sports league teammates, your coffee barista — leave no stone unturned. The people who know you will be the ones to go to bat for you. While many people feel embarrassed to be unemployed and don’t really want to spread the word far and wide, it’s important to remember that most people like to help others. If you don’t let them know you need a job, how can they be helpful?

Perhaps now is the time to pursue your hidden passion. Have you always dreamed of changing careers but didn’t have the time/energy/resources to do it?  Maybe finding yourself unemployed may be a blessing in disguise. It could be the time that you can explore launching your own business? Go back to school to gain a critical skill set? Try out some new things?

There are lots of resources available through places like the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center which provides training to individuals hoping to start their own businesses, the Small Business Administration or pick up a copy of The Small Business Start Up Kit for California.  Have an idea for a novel nonprofit organization? Attend the Craigslist Foundation’s Nonprofit Bootcamp to learn how to develop your own nonprofit organization. Carpe Diem.

I watched a somewhat silly movie over the weekend called Weathergirl (indie romantic comedy, if you are curious). I won’t ruin it for you, but the story follows the tale of a weathergirl who loses her cool during a broadcast and basically commits career suicide. On the day of the infamous broadcast, it is clear the main character didn’t expect to be so brash. Obviously the situation was exaggerated for the benefit of the movie.  However, the episode did bring to mind the question: can you really prepare to be fired or laid off?!

In this job market, with increasing downsizing, mergers, and even company closures, this is a topic that tends to be top of mind for many employees. Nonprofit organizations are not immune to these economic realities either, especially when many nonprofits receive the bulk of their budgets from city, county, state or federal government funding sources. Times are still tough and job security is not a given even when you work for a nonprofit.

Whether your job seems safe for now, or you have good reason to believe you might be losing your job, it is always good to be prepared.  We are often judged most harshly at our weakest hour. In preparation for just such a situation, I recommend you read this enlightening blogpost by Employment Attorney Alan Sklover, Here’s What to do if you are Laid Off…or  You Will Soon Be.      I hope you won’t need to use this advice, but better safe than sorry.