unemployment

Making the most of a new job after a layoff

credit: Karl Sinfield CCA-SA

You’ve just landed a new job after a rocky journey through Unemploymentland.  Now, it’s time to relax, right?  Breathe a sigh of relief and just let life get back to normal, right? Right?

No way.

If you want to not just survive, but thrive, attend to these three key issues:

Financial

Given what you now know first-hand about the job market, you understand all too well the need to have a financial cushion.

  • If your unemployment was shorter than expected, you may actually be the recipient of a financial windfall. It just might be a good idea to stash away that extra cash.
  • If your unemployment was longer than expected, begin replenishing your savings right away.  Keep your pared-down lifestyle and spending habits and put away those extra dollars.  It may take time to regain the position you were in before.

Professional

Establish a strong foundation right from the beginning.

  • Make a 30-60-90 day plan for yourself, even if no one requires it of you.  At a minimum, learn about your company, your department, who the stakeholders in your work are, how your work will be measured, and what and who your resources are.
  • Show a strong work ethic from the very beginning. You have to earn credibility and respect. But, also set your boundaries with intention right from the get-go.  Whatever you establish at the beginning is what people will expect going forward.

Emotional

I see people all the time who are not prepared for the emotional challenges that come with re-employment.  Expect to be uncomfortable.

  • You will be on a steep learning curve again and, while it can be exciting, it can also be stressful.  Be forgiving of yourself as you grow.
  • Your ego may have taken a hit and it may take time to rebuild your confidence.  Acknowledge and celebrate what you bring to this new table.  They hired you for a reason – you’ve got what they want.
  • You may find you are physically worn-out as well.  Take care of yourself physically – eat well, sleep well.  If your foundation is weak,you will be more emotionally vulnerable.

It is said that every ending is also a beginning.  Make the most of yours.

To degree or not to degree

Help Wanted: Degree required. 

Seen this lately?  If you’re seeking a job, I’m sure you have.  And in the not too distant past, if you were my client, I would have advised you: “Don’t let that stop you from applying.”  Because I knew, firsthand and through much observation, that due to the war for talent, companies often ignored their own guidelines.   Now, however, the tide has turned.  Companies are sticking by their guidelines much more closely.  Why?  Because they can.  

So, what does this mean for you as a job seeker?  First and foremost, it means that if the kind of jobs you are interested in consistently require a degree, if you already have some college hours under your belt and have any means at all to go back to school, run, do not walk, to the college of your choice and complete your degree as soon as possible.  If you have taken no college classes, this is a bigger decision, but still one you should very seriously consider. 

Take night classes?  Yes.  Miss out on family events?  Yes.   Strain your brain studying again?  Yes.  Why?  Because the (seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for people over age 25 with a Bachelor’s degree or higher is currently 4.4%.  Do you hear me??  4.4%!  For people over age 25 with some college or an Associate’s degree, it is 9.1%.  That is still below the national average, but significantly higher than 4.4%.  Which odds would you like to have in your favor?  And if the national average is 9.6%, what do you think the rates are for high school graduates with no college, and those who did not complete high school? 10.0% and 15.4% respectively.  (All information here is based on the September 2010 Employment Situation report and supporting tables available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov). 

This is the reality of the world today.  People who have been displaced from jobs they were successful in for 20 years or more are now not able to land those same exact jobs – because they lack a degree!  Do I agree with this?  NO.  Employers have become lazy and begun inserting “Bachelor’s degree required” as shorthand for “needs to be able to write a paragraph that actually means something and isn’t full of errors” or “needs to be able to use logic and sound decision-making skills to solve problems”.  If only having a degree meant that!   Sadly, it often doesn’t.  But that is a topic for another post.  

As a side note, I urge employers to say what they really mean in job postings and go back to using the phrase, “degree or equivalent experience”.  But, back to my primary message, I will again, urge you – if you have not finished your degree but have ever wanted to – do it.  Make the time.  Find the money.  Seek grants, scholarships and loans if needed.  Pick a decent, reasonably-priced school and go.  It truly is an investment in your future and the future starts now.