Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

In strong economic times, most college graduates quickly enter the workforce, utilize their skills to move up within their organizations and advance to leadership positions — either at their original company or elsewhere. (I hope that is the case with a daughter soon to finish her college career at DePauw).

In today's reality, that isn't always the way it works. In a worst-case scenario, one might need the following assistance through an article titled: "The Recent Grad's Guide to Surviving Layoffs." After taking care of some necessary financial matters, there is very sound advice (condensed below) on turning a layoff into "an opportunity rather than a catastrophe." The full article is available here.

And there is always the Indiana Chamber's Indiana INTERNnet program to guide you through the world of internships.

Obtain Additional Education

  •  Certification Program: If finances and your personal circumstances permit, you may take this opportunity to earn a post-baccalaureate certificate in your industry. Additional certifications will build on the experience you already have and make you a more competitive candidate for a new position.
  •  Graduate School: Some master’s programs require students to have worked in the industry before returning to school; viewed positively, this could be a golden opportunity. Full-time graduate students may defer student loan obligations and may also be eligible for more financial aid. Attending an online school may also be an attractive option.
  • Federal Job Training Programs: The federal government has resources in place for unemployed individuals to acquire additional training. Funds that assist dislocated workers are available through CareerOneStop, a service provided by the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

 Stay Active in Your Industry

  •  Use Your Former Employer as a Resource: While it may seem counterintuitive, staying in contact with your former employer can unearth opportunities to network that you may not have expected. Ask if outplacement services are offered, and follow up if so.
  •  Tap Into Your Network: Reach out to friends and colleagues and explain your situation in simple terms; there is no social stigma to being laid off and no need to be embarrassed. Using social media tools can help you reach people you otherwise would never have met.
  •  Be an Industry Insider: If cost is not prohibitive, attend industry events like conferences, trade shows or seminars. You will continue to build your contact list, keep your face in front of people who have the potential to hire you, and learn new skills at the same time.
  •  Continue to Read, Research, and Learn: As you search for new employment, keep up on industry news by subscribing to trade publications or attending association meetings.

 Create Opportunities to Gain Work Experience

  •  Part-Time Work: Consider part-time work, possibly from the company that laid you off in the first place. The concept of Survivor Demotions often doesn’t occur to employers; if you’re about to lose your salaried position, ask if you can take a demotion to a lower-level job in the company or perform your old job on a part-time basis.
  •  Work Share: In some states, companies that are downsizing are willing to implement work-sharing programs. Rather than eliminating jobs in the workforce, these companies reduce the hours and benefits of a group of workers. These workers are still eligible for partial unemployment insurance, and therefore don’t experience a loss in income until unemployment resources end.
  •  Contract Positions: Temporary or contract positions also provide experience and help you meet new people in influential positions.
  •  Volunteer: Using your unique skills in a volunteer position can increase your networking opportunities while you perform a good deed. Unpaid internships may also lead to new business contacts or a full-time position.