April 30, 2009

Protecting Yourself in a Tough Economy

In the past few weeks, I have been contacted by numerous people who have been laid off from local firms. Three grads who were laid off from Schilling Robotics told me that the company recently let more than 100 people go. That represents a 30% reduction in employees for Schilling. The company hires when the price of oil goes up and the demand for deep sea remotely operated vehicles increases.

I also was contacted by an ME graduate who has not yet found work an engineering position after graduating in May of 2008. Soon, he will be competing with May 2009 graduates with the baggage of a year’s worth of underemployment.

Unemployment is one of the most extreme challenges in life. It tests your character. It tests your mettle - your ability to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

If you are laid off, getting a new job is a priority. But there are other things that require your immediate attention. The first thing you need to do is to apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) through the Employment Development Department. The money is there to help sustain you at the minimum level while you seek other work. You are eligible if you have been laid off through no fault of your own from your last job, and if you are available for work and actively seeking work. File your UI claim as soon as possible after a layoff so that you can receive it immediately.

Second, you need to file for a COBRA on your health insurance. When you receive a jolt to the system like being laid off, your health can suffer and you can find yourself more accident-prone as you try to regain your self. If at all possible, you do not want to be uncovered. If you are young and healthy, you may be able to obtain health insurance cheaply through ehealthinsurance.com. I purchased Kaiser Health Insurance for my daughter during her job search, insurance that includes dental and vision coverage for a very reasonable price.

Third, you will want to reign in your spending immediately. It is essential that you preserve your cash resources. Financial experts recommend that you have six months to one year’s cash reserves to see you through a prolonged stretch of unemployment. The average length of time that it takes to get a job is three to six months. Looking for work is a full time, forty hour a week job. Stop spending immediately and figure out how you are going to make it through this rough spot. If you are just starting your career, usher your resources. Ask your parents for help as you go through the job search. If you need to, get a roommate or live with your family to cut down on expenses. And do not make big expenditures that will burden you with debt. Even after you get a job, save for a rainy day.

After you attend to the basics, you need to concentrate on getting a job. Your attitude, beliefs and behavior are extremely important to your ability to get a new job rapidly. If you stop looking for work because you believe there are no jobs, I promise you will not find a job. In the midst of the lay off trauma, it is important to remember that you will get another job. I remember a VP of engineering who once told me that being laid off was an opportunity to reinvent himself. He had worked in a number of start-up companies, as well as in larger engineering firms, and layoffs were a part of life. He explained to me that as an engineer, if a company has contracts and projects, then you have a job. If not, they cannot afford to keep everyone on through a down turn. He told me that he always found a better job, even in a tight economy.

Getting started on the job search process? I am currently in the process of putting the new edition of my book on the web ... start reading it! There is already enough there to get you started on getting organized and doing your research: seriousjobseeker.com

copyright: cici mattiuzzi, 2009