Career Advice

Job Seekers Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

What do the FAA, Cisco, Merck & Co., HSBC, and NASA have in common?

Sadly they are all organizations that are currently experiencing the pain of mass layoffs. It might surprise you to know that even during the most vibrant years of the dot com era, large corporations frequently had layoffs due to restructurings and reorganizations. In case you’re interested in getting the actual numbers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a section of their website dedicated to tracking mass layoff statistics.

While most recent economic trends are not as encouraging as they could be, you will be pleased to know that according to a survey conducted by Harris in Q1 of 2011, three out of five workers who were laid off last year have gotten new jobs. Whether you are concerned about layoff or simply want to make a career transition, these numbers should bring renewed optimism.

The glass is more than half full. So what is it about the folks who got jobs that may have made the difference?

  • 60% changed their career. If you find your current career path is limiting, re-invent yourself. Many candidates come to me in order to reposition their résumé so they can cast a wider net in the job market. By creating a résumé highlighting transferable skills, they have identified and secured new opportunities.
  • One third of those surveyed relocated. If you haven’t thought about moving, it may be time to consider this option. Even if you live on one side of town and have to move to the other side of town, it may be worth the sacrifice depending upon your unique situation. You will have to weigh the pros and cons of course; to the extent that you can, relocating for a better position might further expand your sphere of opportunities for future growth and development.
  • While 43% of those surveyed did take a pay cut, 23% actually got a pay increase. Losing your job to a layoff doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make less money, but being open to this possibility will give you more flexibility in the job market. What is it they say about one step back and two steps ahead? I have coached many people over the years that were laid off; they were happier in the long-term because it ultimately led to career advancement.

I think so much of how we approach a job search in a down economy has to do with attitude. I don’t deny that it can be a challenge to remain positive. Your proactive approach, focus on improving your personal brand, and doing all you can to present yourself to employers as a highly qualified candidate, will drive your ultimate success.

If you are unhappy in your current role, at risk for layoff, or have already left your most recent position, look at your situation as a challenge rather than a problem; you can rise to the occasion and be among the job winners. While making a career transition can be stressful, it might also be an opportunity to grow.

Lemonade anyone?