April 2, 2009
Has a recent layoff driven you to readjust to a new reality?
About two months ago, I felt I had it all. Despite the terrible economy, I had a steady, decent-paying job at a business magazine in Seattle, the city of my dreams. Over three years, I had strengthened my professional relationships with other writers, editors and business owners in the area.
I knew about the economic challenges we would face in 2009, but I was prepared to use my journalistic talents however I could to help speed Seattle's economic recovery. A freshly minted President was unpacking his boxes in the Oval Office. Anything seemed possible.
Then, in late January, as I was working on a blog entry about the rash of layoffs at Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks that same week, I got called into my boss' office for a meeting. For the first time I could recall, I was not told beforehand what was to be the subject of said meeting. Uh-oh...
The tone was somber. The faces of upper management were grim. There were even a few moistened eyes. But the sting of the words was still felt: As of that afternoon, I would no longer be employed by the magazine. I had become an anecdote in my own layoff blog.
The weeks that followed were obviously a time of soul-searching and fear in this tough market. But the experience was also an eye-opener. The last time I had to look for a full-time job, back in 2005, the mainstream job search world was still mostly an analog operation. Online job boards and PDF file sharing have been in existence for well over a decade, but I still remember spending a fair amount of time in those days stuffing manila envelopes full of crisp paper résumés, reference letters and writing samples.
The morning after my layoff, however, I was rudely introduced to a whole new world of online job forms, social networking Web sites and something called Twitter that I thought only teenagers cared about. Like a minor Rip Van Winkle, I felt I had aged 20 years during my short stint in the 9-to-5 bubble, and had to adjust quickly to a world ruled by Facebook, LinkedIn, Biznik and other digital tools.
Searching for work is no longer just about a flashy résumé, a can-do attitude and a firm handshake. It's also a multitasking, 9-to-5 job in its own right, requiring a regular daily schedule. That's why the folks at NWjobs decided to start Hire Ground. A few times each week, I'll talk to experts, provide tips and share job-hunting information with readers who may find themselves adrift in the same boat I was in.
With the recession expected to linger through at least the rest of this year, many of us may have to keep our job-search skills honed longer than expected. We also may have to take on more short-term jobs and work in more than one profession to pay the bills. Flexibility will be the watchword for 2009, and Hire Ground will be there to point out the latest trends in Seattle's growing job-searching community.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and also to hearing your feedback and ideas. Good luck and good hunting.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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