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Old 05-08-2009, 11:35 PM   #10
Eric Ladner
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Tacoma, WA
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Originally Posted by michelen View Post
Two years ago, I was laid off from the print production manager job I'd had for nine years. It took me almost 6 months to find another job, which paid $10K less than I'd been making before.

A couple of weeks ago, I was laid off from that job. Yikes!! What does an almost 50-year-old print production artist with some web production experience do about finding a full-time job, with benefits, in this horrible economic climate?

My husband is self-employed, so losing health benefits is a very serious concern. His business--he is a professional photographer--is suffering, too. There will come a time when paying the rent will be a struggle, once our savings is gone. Depressing.

I'm guessing that there are others here who are in the same boat. Tell me what you're doing to stay sane!

Cheers,
Michele
Without going into too many details, I have been in similar situations more than once; they seem to go with our field. I have been fortunate in that my wife has always had medical insurance.

"Temp" jobs can be a big help. One lasted for several months for me once, and I could never understand why, if they liked me that well (they could have requested a different temp at any time they were dissatisfied) they hired someone else for the permanent position.

I also ran my own one-person business for about ten years, but I had the advantage of taking a large clientele with me when I was laid off. As they drifted away (and as technology changed what companies would pay to have free lances do) I was not able to find enough new clients, and to adapt to the new climate fast enough.

I would not want to try to go independent in today's economy without a good existing client base.

When the whole composition department at Bowne of Palo Alto was laid off a year ago, I went to the PINC (Printing Industries of Northern California) web site, and compiled names and addresses (email where possible) of the owners or executives of all the appropriate companies within my commute range, and sent them "do you need, or think you might soon need someone like me" messages.

Most, of course, never replied.

A few said "Wow! I wish I had a place for someone with your experience, but things are really tight right now."

Three asked me to come for interviews, and there things hung, for months. One of them said that business had dropped off so badly that they were not going to fill the position.

One shuffled existing employees around.

And one kept calling to talk, and calling again, and asking me to come meet with him, off and on, for several months. Finally, he asked me to come in as a consultant, to see why his desktop department (one person) was so slow.

Well, it's not my dream job; the company is pretty shaky; the pay is less than my last position, which wasn't all that great; it's still part-time "consulting"; and my prospects of actual employee status - with benefits - depend on the boss deciding to get rid of a couple of other guys, which feels like very bad karma to me, even though he was already unhappy with them.

But, to get to the point at last, finding the right people to contact, and sending them good letters and résumés, even when they have not announced any job openings, does work. Responding to posted positions has produced nothing for me. There's just too much competition; they get hundreds of qualified applicants for those jobs, not to mention the mountains of irrelevant résumés that come in. (I've been on that side of the desk, too.)

I know this is hardly the Great American Success Story. I wish I could say it has gotten me a $50,000 raise and a company car, but I probably wouldn't have liked that job, anyway. I do hope that, with a little help from an improved economy, I can help the company recover to the point where it can provide me with some security and a little more money. And, it's an opportunity I generated on my own!

If I'd wanted to get rich, I would have gone into investment banking.

Best of luck to you!

Eric

(If it's been a while since you worked with résumés and inquiry letters, I recommend (sorry, Strunk and White) The Elements of Résumé Style, by Scott Bennet.)
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