The Job Exchange

Tapping Into The Hidden Job Market

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,8599,1881805,00.html


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

The Online Job Search Myth


The myth of online job searching is that the speed and ease of sending off a resume – or of posting an open position, for that matter – makes the overall online job-posting and job-hunting process painless. Would that it were so. Ten years ago, online job searching was all the rage. It still is – in terms of the hours job-seekers spend sending resumes to employers via Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs and the other mega career sites. But something significant has changed.

Job-seekers have figured out that in many cases, your chance of getting a job by zipping off a bunch of resumes online is about the same as your chance of being recruited for Major League Baseball. Recruiters have figured out that the time and expense of screening hundreds of resumes makes the big job websites far less appealing than they might be. Both job-seekers and recruiters are looking for alternatives, and they’re finding them. In fact, job-seekers can waste countless hours carefully composing cover letters to send in response to jobs posted online, only to finally deduce the truth: most resumes sent electronically via career sites never get read. How could they be read? Corporate recruiters can’t keep up with the volume of resumes they receive. The process of sending off a resume, so easy on the job-seeker side, makes the recruiter’s task all the more difficult. Thus job websites have the unintended effect of depressing job-seekers’ spirits by making them feel that even sending 100 resumes out into cyberspace won’t net them a single response. And often, it doesn’t


02/28/2009 Posted by | hiring, job search | , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Army of Unemployed

Adlai Wertman is a Professor and Founder of the Society and Business Lab at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California

He writes:

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, 53% of charities received decreased donations in the fourth quarter of 2008 (the time of year when many charities receive as much as 60% of their annual income).

Is this a time, though, where we can apply a basic math rule — two negatives equal a positive? Could a large group of unemployed actually be good for the charities? Without sounding callous, we now have millions of people with more time on their hands. And this is not just any time — it is the time of able bodied, often highly-skilled workers. It is also the free time of those with college and graduate educations, managers, executives, administrators and finance experts.

This idle talent pool needs to be put to work to bolster the talent base of charities whose backs are sagging under the weight of a ‘perfect storm’ (i.e. more demand for services, fewer options to help clients and less money to pay for staff and resources). I am not talking about one day events where a group paints a school house. While those events are noble and helpful, they don’t provide the kind of real help non-profits need. They need volunteers who bring their business and craftsmanship skills and talents to the table. Charities need volunteers who will regularly commit to one, two or even five days a week in the office, classroom or clinic. There is a desperate need for the skills they can bring to bear — marketing, accounting, organizing and human resources management, to name a few.

Which led me to add a comment to his article:  Volunteering will allow you to gain the skills and competencies you may need to switch industries. So it essentially serves two purposes: it supports the greater good and helps the unemployed gain needed skills.

My point: While there ARE companies that are hiring, they may not be in the industry in which you specialize. Consider volunteering to gain the skills, knowledge, or competencies you may need to make the transition to, say, healthcare (which is where the most jobs are these days).  Then add this experience to your resume. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Your thoughts?

02/26/2009 Posted by | General | , , | Leave a comment

Will you move for a job?

Will you move for a job?

As options dwindle each day for the unemployed, many may be faced with the prospect of going to where the jobs are. As losing companies like GM and their ilk demand bailout funds–but at the same time, promising more layoffs–options for the unemployed, underemployed, or soon-to-be-unemployed, become much more narrow.

Interestingly enough, a few years back–in the “other” times–companies were going to where the workers were. We’ve now come full circle and workers are looking at following the jobs.

In a tough market, especially in the hardest-hit areas of New York and California, widening your search to other parts of the country may be wise. Keep in mind that each application you submit to a company is competing with hundreds-if not thousands-of other applications.

If you’re not widening your search, what are you doing differently? What techniques are you using to stand out?

02/22/2009 Posted by | jobs | , , | 2 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


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

The Math for 3.5 Million Jobs

From Time Magazine

Congress…has put together a $789 billion stimulus package to get the economy on the road again. The most interesting and obtuse comment about the new plan came from Senator Harry Reid, who said the legislation would create 3.5 million jobs.

The 3.5 million jobs forecast has always been a mysterious subject. The language used in the original House stimulus bill indicated that the programs in the legislation would create or save 3 to 4 million jobs. The “save” part is an important distinction.

No one was discussing…what will happen if the economy continues to lose jobs at the rate it did in January. A total of 3.5 million people could be out of work between the beginning of this year and the end of June. The stimulus package will probably not have even kicked in by then. So, with the job losses from January 2009 through the end of June at 600,000 a month, the entire $789 billion will be spent filling this unemployment crater. What will it cost to add another 3.5 million jobs after the job losses from the first half of the year have been reversed? Perhaps another $789 billion.

There is a temptation to say that the stimulus package is simply a cruel trick, meant to give people some hope. Members of Congress will be able to take credit for its results two years from now if it works, or they can simply say the economy was too far gone to be saved if it fails. Either way, the issue is not creating 3.5 million jobs–it is creating 8 or 9 million.

02/12/2009 Posted by | Economy, jobs | , , | Leave a comment