Being a Sore Layoff Loser

Women in a Publix grocery store: Tallahassee, ...

Image by State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr

Lost your job?

That sucks.

But it doesn’t mean you have to lose your life. If anything the opposite, now you have time for one.

I’ve heard it a few times voiced a few ways, but altogether it’s a sad statement – I’m not going to my college reunion…holiday party…local grocery store because I don’t have a job. I even heard someone was afraid to go to a wedding, for fear that she didn’t have a good response to, “What are you doing nowadays?”

So I guess the sad answer would be, “I haven’t been doing much since I got laid off…just applying to jobs here & there with no response.” Then skulk away into the masses where you belong at the bar.

The too-truthful answer you can’t give would be, “Please pass the bean dip. I’m desperate for a job. Can you get me hired where you work?” (But hey, if your hostess is socially inappropriate enough to serve bean-anything at a social occasion then perhaps it’s an awkward enough crowd that you could pull off that statement?)

So how about this holiday season, try for  a happy, socially appropriate medium. Don’t be ashamed that you lost your job, so did another 10% at least of people you know most likely. Speak up about your need when asked what you’re doing, it’s not a thing to be shy about. No one will offer to help you if you don’t know they need it. And now that you don’t have to get up early in the morning, you have plenty of time to socialize the night away.

 Look at every party or occasion as a chance to network. ALWAYS have your card on you, but never pass is around inappropriately. Yes, there are those t-shirts everyone’s been selling online saying things like ‘hire me’ or ‘I need a job’, but most people don’t have the confidence or the wanting to wear any slogan t-shirt to party – but if you’re up for it, I doubt it’ll hurt your job prospects and makes an easy conversation starter.

Try working the fact that you’re looking for an opportunity into conversations, but be careful not to be too self-depreciating. Unless you’re generally sarcastic enough to pull it off, it’ll come across as desperate as you are (just kidding…sort of…see what I mean?).

Maybe try, “Can I get you a drink? I sure could use one since I lost my job…heard of any good roles around?”

Besides, you do know not to eat bean dip or other ‘difficult’ foods at parties by now, right? Well now you do. You’ll pick up some smoked fish on the way home and enjoy that smell all for yourself.

And just maybe your friend’s coworker Russel, the guy who got too drunk at the holiday party and got fired, will need a backfill. Yup he’s the same guy that ate the fish and bean dip!

Job Market Floods & How to Present a Layoff

I remember my dad telling me what it was like trying to find a job when he got back from the Vietnam war. A depressed economy, with thousands of soldiers returning home to find out their positions were eliminated or that the companies they worked for had closed, all fighting again, but for a few jobs this time.

I can see that happening pretty quickly over here…assuming our troops are actually brought home in the next few years – but there’s a different kind of flood – an ‘end of unemployment’ flood. Details based on what date you started receiving benefits & cut offs can be found here: http://www.labor.state.ny.us/ui/claimantinfo/ExtendedBenefits.shtm

If I know a lot of people who’ve been on unemployment since their layoff in 2008(ish) who have been floating by on those weekly sign-ins for their checks, I’m sure there must be thousands more in the same position. If I had a dime for every time I heard the attitude of, “I’ll find a job when my unemployment stops getting extended,” or “I’m just letting the government pay me back for all the years I’ve contributed to unemployment benefits.”

Well kids, the day has come. No easy check will be deposited into your account this week, and there’s non-stop press about employers who say “Unemployed need not apply.” But let’s be realistic. Target is hiring. If you needed money bad enough, you’d walk in and take the night shift (great benefits, you won’t run into anyone you know, team morale, physical work so you won’t need to go to the gym, and higher pay than the day shift).

And now you’re competing with all the other soldiers who also just got their last check & will be flooding the market.

So is everyone running to apply to Target now? No. It’s beneath your dignity. You used to make 4x the annual salary and can’t bring yourself to do it. It’ll look bad on your resume (who says it needs to be there? Keep up your volunteer work & put that there instead). Pick your excuse of why you‘re not willing to take one of the thousands of jobs posted on monster.com. Yes, you all want the 6 figure career you used to have – and that’s who you’re competing with to get it – everyone.

Someone will get those big ticket jobs, but will it be you if you’ve been laid off? I think every smart recruiter (or hiring manager) should know the difference between a mass layoff and a weakest link layoff. I think a lot of how this comes across is going to be how you present it.

So what’s the ‘correct’ way to swing it that you were the weakest link at an interview? That you were the only person from your division eliminated? I’d say honestly, but with a positive spin, let’s try these.

  1. Fit problem: You were passionate about the mission of X organization, but weren’t placed into the correct role. Then present immediately without taking a breath why you are the correct fit for the job you’re interviewing for.
  2. Cite irreconcilable differences 1: Either between you and your company, or you and your manager, as in divorce court. No-fault of your own, just a different strokes for different folks situation. “Any sort of difference between the two parties that either cannot be changed or the individual does not want to change can be considered irreconcilable differences.”
  3. Fess up: “I made x huge mistake due to y factor which could never possibly happen again thanks to a & b factors. I’ve learned the lesson that z and have grown from it in c & d ways.”
  4. Wrong place at the wrong time: “Budget cuts made my position impossible to fund, and I’m sure the company would have kept me if they could have afforded to. I’d be happy to provide references that can attest to my excellent work ethic and company contributions.” But do NOT include the last part if you don’t have at least 1 coworker or supervisor who liked you enough to back it up.

 

So in conclusion, I’m all for only taking jobs that will continue to advance you within your chosen career path (more on that another time), but if you need to make the mortgage & look cute in red, Target takes walk in applications! Best of luck to you all, I know it’s a disheartening situation you’re in, but give it your all, lower your expectations & you’ll be back in the swing of things in no time at all.

References

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreconcilable_differences.

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