The Job Exchange

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What to Do If You Get Laid Off

Employment consultant Martha Finney doesn’t pull any punches when she talks about layoffs. “The very first thing we should all do is just cop to the fact that it could be us,” she says. “If we’re drawing a paycheck, we could be losing that paycheck. Period.” Her new book, Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss (FT Press) is intended for those who are nervous about their job security or find themselves on the unemployment line. With 3.6 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007, that’s a lot of people.

– What if someone tells you that you’re being let go? What do you do and say?
– Is it O.K. to express that you think the layoff is unfair?
– Is there any point in writing down what’s been said to you?
– Who do your files belong to? Are you allowed to take them?
– Should you tell everyone in the office what happened or leave quietly?
– What do you tell your kids?
– What if you think your dismissal is age discrimination?
– What do you tell a prospective employer about your layoff? 

Read more at http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1881805,00.html

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03/02/2009 Posted by | layoffs | , , | 2 Comments

In 2009, Layoffs Is the Business to Be In

From the New York Times

As companies across the country eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, one field is hiring: the layoff industry. Businesses that specialize in “career transition” can barely keep up with the demand as corporate America cuts staff.

“I can’t remember a busier time,” said Elaine Varelas, a managing partner at Keystone Partners, based in Boston. Right Management, another company that specializes in outplacement, reported a 39 percent increase in profit last fall. And William L. Ayers Jr., president of the 28-year-old Ayers Group in New York, said his business had had a 75 percent spike in so-called career transition work last year.

Several of these outplacement companies say that they are hiring to help companies lay off workers. Right Management’s overseas practice is adding staff in Austria, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The Ayers Group, which employs about 30 people in the New York-New Jersey market, hired an additional consultant last month.

Ms. Varelas of Keystone Partners said the severity and the swiftness of the current economic crisis were similar to the banking crisis of the early 1990s. This time, though, “we’re much busier,” she said, “and partly that’s because career transition and outplacement has become a much more accepted benefit.”

02/24/2009 Posted by | Economy, layoffs | | 1 Comment

More Jobs Coming to Columbus, Norcross

From Georgia Public Broadcasting News

Two companies have announced in recent days that they would soon add several hundred jobs in Georgia.

YesVideo (www.yesvideo.com), a company that converts home movies and videos to DVDs and other digital formats, will bring 300 jobs to Norcross next month.

The Santa Clara, Ca.-based firm says they have has 30,000 retail locations including Walgreens, Costco and CVS.

On Friday, Kodak announced that they were ramping up a third production line at their Columbus plant.

Kodak officials say the just-completed $15 million dollar investment will add another 50 jobs in coming years, bringing the total staffing to 300. The facility makes digital plates for the printing industry.

On the red side of the employment ledger, however, JP Morgan Chase says they plan to close a credit card customer service center in Kennesaw by mid-2010, eliminating 730 jobs.

The center primarily worked with the now defunct electronics retailer, Circuit City.

Chase didn’t say when the cuts would begin, but says employees will be eligible to apply for other jobs in the company.

02/23/2009 Posted by | Economy, jobs, layoffs | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Seven Dumbest Layoff Alternatives

From Forbes.com

Dr. John Sullivan is a workforce planner. That’s a nice way of saying layoff specialist. Sullivan says almost all layoffs and layoff alternatives are done wrong.

That’s a big issue, since so many layoffs are happening. The Labor Department reported almost 600,000 job losses in January alone. But businesses that try to avoid layoffs by instituting pay cuts, hiring freezes or furloughs usually screw up too.

The main reasons layoffs and their alternatives are done poorly, according to Sullivan: They’re left in the hands of employees and human resources professionals. If you go for voluntary early retirements or buyouts, you’re letting your workers decide who stays and who leaves. Top performers will always feel confident they can find a job elsewhere, while poor employees won’t. So the good employees will be the ones to exit. You’re paying them to walk out the door.

High-paid employees may also feel that if they leave, they’ll save the jobs of three others. That’s misguided, though, because a company needs the best staff it can get. If it lets its most valuable employees walk, the three others may find themselves without jobs when the company or department folds.

Human resources professionals cause problems because they concern themselves too much with trying to be “fair,” partly to avoid lawsuits. That makes them go for across-the-board actions–layoffs, pay cuts or hiring and overtime freezes–that tell employees that performance doesn’t matter, that the best and worst staffers will be treated exactly the same. That, too, can drive top performers to begin looking for companies willing to treat them better.

And don’t forget how layoffs can feed talent to the competition, especially if the competition is creative and aggressive about it. When Yahoo! cut a chunk of staff at its headquarters in December, a small start-up company called Tokbox, which provides a free video chat service, set up a taco truck across the street from Yahoo!’s corporate headquarters. It gave any Yahoo! employee who stopped by–laid off or not–not only free tacos but a promise of five jobs to be considered for. Tokbox’s vice-president of marketing, Micky O’Brien, says it was a sudden idea conceived the day before.

Once you’ve rejected across-the-board cuts, you may be tempted to make HR hack off the 10% of the staff with the least seniority. That won’t do much good for the company either, Sullivan says. It will cost you a lot of new, fresh ideas.

Furloughs (unpaid, forced vacation time) pretty much never make sense. They’re terrible for morale, and they don’t save much money. Roughly 40% to 60% of what a company spends on its employees isn’t salary or wages but rather benefits, workspace and other things that don’t stop costing during a furlough. Furthermore, many furloughed employees take their time away as an opportunity to look for a new job–increasing the chances that the best talent will depart. And morale and stress problems afflict the employees left behind, as they feel that they have to make up for the absent staffers. In some jobs, such as sales representative, the amount a worker brings into the business is more than the company can save with a furlough anyway.

The corporate culture should be a major consideration in workforce planning, according to Steve Miranda. He’s the strategic planning officer for the Society for Human Resource Management. Companies that have a history of weathering tough times should stick to their own track records. Consistency matters. Southwest Airlines has kept to a no-layoff policy for decades. If that changed that now, the company would lose a terrific advantage over its competitors.

Whatever you choose to do, layoffs or their alternatives, you need to do it more carefully than is common. Across-the-board anything is a bad idea. It shuts down innovative and reliable producers, indiscriminately punishes top performers and cuts back in areas that could help keep the company profitable. “You wouldn’t tell a Michael Jordan not to play for one week just to keep things even with the other players,” says Sullivan, who loves to relate layoff strategies to sports, the one industry that he says does workforce management right.

Companies, particularly large public ones, ultimately need to bear in mind that their greatest concern is their remaining employees. In December, Bank of America announced it would lay off 35,000 over three years. “That message was not for the employees,” says Mitchell Marks, an organizational psychologist at San Francisco State University. Companies sometimes announce layoffs just to look decisive, he says. That’s never worth it.

Marks wrote the book on dealing with workforce trauma, Charging Back Up the Hill: Workplace Recovery After Mergers, Acquisitions and Downsizings. Step one: Get the process done as fast as possible. Then let your remaining workers mourn their losses (of co-workers, job security confidence and even a sense of fair play among staff). While companies always see monetary advantage in layoffs, buyout offers, furloughs and freezes, they too often overlook something at least as important: an undistracted employee.

Don’t drive out your best employees with your worst.

02/20/2009 Posted by | layoffs | , , , | 4 Comments

How to talk to a friend who’s been laid off

I thought this was a great post. (Hat-tip to Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist). As someone fortunate to be employed (or, rather, under-employed), I wasn’t aware of how my seeming good intentions may be viewed by my less-fortunate friends and family.

Being laid off used to be taboo. But not anymore. And most of us have thought through some sort of plan for if it happens to us. Gone are the days when people pretend this is not happening.

One of the things my ex-husband and I did well, as did our peers, was learn to tag-team in the layoff department. We both got laid off pretty much all the time throughout the 90s. And somehow, we got a sort of routine, and it became a normal way of life.

Today there is a generation of us in the workforce, totally familiar with layoffs, and totally unfamiliar with the idea that a job is secure. Ever. The good news about this is that there is not a huge difference between someone laid off and someone not laid off in that all of us feel vulnerable and scared.

Which means the etiquette is different than it used to be for talking to someone who’s been laid off.

1. Don’t ask “how’s the job hunt?”
Do you know how many times a day someone hears this if he is unemployed? Ten. And even if it’s not ten really, it’s ten in his head. He asks himself that, and he imagines other people asking that, and he stresses about the answer. Because the job hunt doesn’t change much from day to day, but it’s demoralizing to report that.

So trust that someone who is laid off who has something great to report will volunteer it without you asking.

2. Ask about extracurriculars.
At this point, we have a generation that is accustomed to changing jobs often and thinking in terms of the in-between time with jobs. In between jobs is the best time for real vacations and often the best time for gaining deep knowledge of something totally new. This trend is becoming more pronounced during the current downturn. People are focusing on hobbies, kids, and their health – all interesting topics to talk about.

Those of you who are employed might find a little inspiration here. We all know that it doesn’t make sense to only do this stuff during the in-between time. So find out what changes your unemployed friends made to refocus themselves, and see if you can do it now. Before you get laid off.

3. Ask about health insurance.
There needs to be more collective knowledge on how to deal with health insurance during stints of unemployment. For most people, COBRA is about as cost-effective as a penthouse in New York City. So ask about how people are solving the insurance problem because the more we share information, the smarter we are at solving the problem when it hits us.

(What I learned from my last conversation: Move to Massachusetts. Everyone is covered there. )

4. Talk about industry news.
One of the hardest things about being laid off is keeping up in one’s industry. If you’re at the office each day, you keep up, sort of, through osmosis. But if you are not working in your field, you have to try a lot harder to keep up. Just hearing it first hand from someone who’s still employed is helpful.

So tell the person what you’re working on. Trends you’re hearing about. Personnel shifts you’ve seen. Also, gossip counts as news. Workplace gossip is a positive way to bond. The laid-off worker is cut out of this positive gossip loop, unless you supply some. So forget what your mom told you about gossip being bad karma. In this case, gossip equals good karma.

5. Offer up one good contact. (Note: that’s what The Job Exchange is doing!)
You do not need to pretend that connecting in LinkedIn is going to help this person. I mean, they should have been building their network long before the layoff loomed. But you could offer up one person you know well who could talk with the person laid off.

The truth is that we all know someone who is out of work. And we all know that the next person could be us. Anyone who is feeling smug about having a job has no grip on reality. Sure, some of it is your own doing, your own talent. But some of it is luck. Anyone could be laid off at any time.

This is why almost anyone you ask will help a friend who is laid off. Once. Giving five minutes of help is a reasonable request. So you can make it for a friend. If the friend is not smart enough to turn that five minutes into something bigger, that is not your problem.

6. Acknowledge trouble with the significant other.
More men are getting laid off than women, which puts women in a bad spot because most women choose a husband thinking he’ll earn more than she will (yes, even smarty-pants Stanford women). It used to be that we could not openly discuss the testosterone hit that comes with being laid off. But today it’s fair game, and even compassionate to acknowledge.

Not that women are picking up all the slack. They’re not. Some are in support groups to cope with their boyfriends losing their seven-figure bonuses. Other women lost their jobs right along side their partner.

But the important thing here is that men and women are talking about the relationship dynamic that goes along with a layoff, so you should tread down this conversational path as well.

7. Don’t be shy about gratitude
Tell a co-worker who’s been laid off that you miss him or her. And what you miss. It’s hard to keep up morale when you’re looking for a job. And so often we forget what we are talented at because rejection makes us feel totally un-talented.

The act of telling someone what you miss about them reminds them that they are valuable in the workplace. And it also gives you a little boost, because practicing gratitude increases your happiness by 25%. In fact, being grateful for what you have makes you happier than any job could, which is something you can remember when you’re the one who is laid off.

02/19/2009 Posted by | General, layoffs | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rutgers report warns of continuing job losses, recession into 2010

From MyCentralJersey.com

Job losses will continue to mire the economy in coming months and the recession may stretch into 2010, according to a report released by two Rutgers University economists.

The quarterly Sitar-Rutgers Regional Report says 1.9 million jobs were lost across the country in the last four months of 2008, the worst year for private-sector job losses since the United States began compiling such statistics in 1939.

But in New Jersey and across the United States, a shrinking job market through 2008 suggests that for the next year, at least, households will continue struggling to pay the bills — much less save money.

New Jersey lost 63,000 jobs between December 2007 and December 2008, according to preliminary employment numbers from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That’s the most significant decline in New Jersey since 1991, when 80,800 jobs were lost.

In New Jersey’s public sector, 2008 broke a string of 11 straight years of growth as 3,200 government jobs were lost in 2008.

02/19/2009 Posted by | Economy | , , , | Leave a comment

25 Top-Paying Companies

From money.cnn.com

See which Best Companies to Work For offer big paychecks.

As many big companies are announcing mass layoffs, these 20 top employers have at least 350 openings each right now. See which Best Companies to Work For are doing the most recruiting and what kind of candidates are they looking for.

02/18/2009 Posted by | jobs | , | Leave a comment

Panasonic to cut 15,000 jobs

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Panasonic Corp, the world’s No.1 plasma TV maker, warned it would post an annual loss of $4.2 billion and said it would cut about 15,000 jobs as it grapples with a stronger yen and slowing demand.

02/08/2009 Posted by | Economy, jobs, layoffs | , | 1 Comment

New Jersey: January layoff/facility closures

January mass layoff/facility closure notifications were released by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development:

            COMPANY –  CITY –  EFFECTIVE DATE  –  WORKFORCE AFFECTED

Silverton Marine Corp   –  Millville   –  1/30/09   –  202

Nielson & Bainbridge   –  Monroe Twp.   –  3/11/09   –  105

Apex Express, Inc   –  Jersey City   –  3/5/09   –  110

MW Manufacturers   –  Hammonton   –  3/20/09   –  212

Motorola, Inc.   –  S. Plainfield   –  3/27/09   –  50

Book-Mart Press   –  N. Bergen   –  3/13/09   –  72

DSNJ   –  Lakewood   –  3/7/09   –  161

Pliva, Inc.   –  East Hanover   –  4/27/09   –  120

ITT Systems Division   –  Ft. Dix   –  3/28/09   –  83

Roadway Express   –  E. Brunswick   –  3/1/09   –  72

Siemens Building Technologies   –  Florham Park   –  3/9/09   –  153

Viking Yacht Company   –  New Gretna   –  3/31/09   –  541

King Pharmaceuticals   –  Bridgewater   –  3/29/09   –  71

BMW of North America   –  Mt Olive   –  3/31/09   –  10

Alcan Baltek   –  Northvale   –  4/23/09   –  70

Circuit City Stores, Inc.   –  Ledgewood   –  3/21/09   –  84

Ryder Integrated Logistics   –  Ledgewood   –  4/03/09   –  100

02/08/2009 Posted by | Economy, jobs, layoffs | , | Leave a comment