November 15, 2009
Return to routine: After long layoffs, new hires readjust to 9-to-5 schedules
If surveys and statistics are to be believed, the job market is beginning to show a pulse, which means some laid-off workers will need to adjust to the 9-to-5 routine again.
The number of layoffs announced by major U.S. corporations dropped by 21 percent in August, below July levels and 14 percent below a year ago, according to executive recruiter Challenger, Gray & Christmas. A recent telephone survey by recruiter Robert Half International and online job site CareerBuilder found that more than half of the employers polled expected to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months.
For job seekers who have been out of work since the first throes of the recession, going back into the work force comes with a new set of challenges. Many will have to adjust to workplaces that have changed dramatically during the downturn.
“Many companies out of necessity have found new ways to do things,” says Dawn Fay, district president in New York for Robert Half.
Returning employees will need to accept that things will be different, moderate their expectations and do some homework before the first day back at work to lessen the shock, experts say. They may not even be doing the same type of work; according to the Robert Half/CareerBuilder survey, 38 percent of new hires polled found jobs in different industries than the ones they left.
Job market on the rise?
According to a recent Robert Half International/CareerBuilder survey, managers are planning to hire a combination of workers during the next 12 months. Key findings:
53 percent of employers plan to hire full-time employees
40 percent plan to hire contract, temporary or project workers
39 percent plan to add part-time employees
In addition, 61 percent of hiring managers said their companies were willing to negotiate higher pay for qualified candidates, and 40 percent said they plan to give raises after the economy improves to retain top performers.
After being laid off as an editor at a Detroit news radio station last October, James Melton accepted a part-time job handling public relations for a local nonprofit group shortly before Labor Day.
Melton acknowledges that moving into public relations is an adjustment and that he would rather have a full-time job, but he says it’s a foothold into a different line of work with a group whose goals he supports. The nonprofit, Inforum Michigan, aims to encourage women’s leadership roles.
“I don’t think I would do it if it was a widget market, but because of their mission and what they do, I’m on board,” Melton says. He expects that it will turn into a full-time position eventually.
It’s not just workplaces that have changed since the beginning of the downturn. Workers who have explored other career options, taken courses and spent more time with family won’t necessarily want to go back to the same grind they left.
“Unemployment has given rise to a lot of soul searching,” says Jo Prabhu, founder and CEO of recruiter International Search Group. “Expectations are going to change on both sides.”
Many of the same abilities that can help job seekers land a position -- networking, learning new skills and researching potential employers -- will help them adapt to a new workplace. Melton, for example, honed his skills by building a Web site, michiganpositive.com, which is focused on positive local news.
Perhaps the simplest skill to cultivate is the habit of getting up in the morning and leaving the house. It helps if, during the search, job seekers develop a routine that treats the search as a job itself. Melton says that when he was out of work, he made sure to leave the house every day, working on his laptop at a coffee shop.
“It takes a bit of oomph in the beginning to get acclimated to get yourself going again,” says Fay. “You have to set that alarm, make yourself get up and go out, put in place a routine for yourself.”
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