Best of the Web: Surviving the Downturn (From Severance Packages to Seasonal Hiring Stats)

Posted by: Lindsey Gerdes on October 01

Are you a young job seeker or professional who feels intimidated and overwhelmed by the many competing sources of information out there on the web? Here’s a tri-weekly rundown of some of my favorite bloggers and blog topics currently populating the web:

For this week’s early-careers blog roundup, a discussion on the economic elephant in the room: how to cope/stay afloat in today’s excruciatingly unstable economy. Let’s take a look at blogs ranging from upbeat pep talks (chaos creates opportunity!) to moribund reminders of the precarious employment status of many (don’t sign that severance package immediately, advises one blogger.)

Over at Project Creative Passion, life coach Izabella Tabarovsky tries to talk Lehman employees (or basically anyone who suddenly finds him or herself out of a job) off the cliff with her post “Laid Off from Lehman? Now Is Your Chance.”

But here's a small bit of a silver lining: Even though your job is over, your life isn't. And here's an even bigger truth: You are now completely free to do whatever you want with your life. I know that this very moment, this newly-gained freedom may be hard to appreciate. Right now, you are probably bemoaning the security of your corporate job, the salary, the stability and prestige that went with it, the health insurance, the retirement plan. Believe me, I understand, and I sympathize. But, as you've just learned, corporate "security" has long become an oxymoron. And unless you truly, whole-heartedly loved your job, this development is actually a great thing.

On the not-so-bright side (at least, for those interested in trying their hand at some seasonal work): holiday hiring may be way down, according to Liz Wolgemuth at The Inside Job.

Just as more Americans will likely be looking for extra work to boost their incomes, fewer workers will be able to depend on seasonal jobs for extra income this year. A survey of 1,000 hiring managers found that the average manager expects to hire 3.7 seasonal employees, a full third fewer than they hired last holiday season.

Forbes.com careers blogger Tara Weiss has some advice for employees who are laid off and encouraged to sign a waiver granting them severance if they agree not to sue.

Don't do it. At least not right away. Too many people make the mistake of signing a separation agreement before really thinking about it clearly: They're in shock--or assume they're just an unfortunate victim of the economy. That may not be the case. Before signing anything, spend the $200 or so it will cost to have a lawyer review the agreement, and discuss the details of your layoff.

Over at Career Realism--tagline “Because EVERY Job is Temporary”—the discussion centers around trend forecasting expert Li Edelkoort’s prediction that “Escapism is going to be HOT!” because of the rapidly tanking economy. The blogger finds this troubling:

Escapism became famous in the 1930’s thanks to the depression (hello history repeating) and is almost universally considered a bad thing because it seems to lead to addiction. Wikipedia’s definition of escapism is as follows:

On the bright side though:

I guess the good news (and potentially a strategic bit career advice) is that jobs in escapism industries will be in good shape. So, if you are looking for a career with growth potential, I suggest targeting one of the fields above.

“Escape From Cubicle Nation” blogger Pamela Slim is betting those Lehman employees with side gigs are resting a little easier than their corporate-drone counterparts.

I was so fascinated to see this right as I am polishing the chapter of the Escape from Cubicle Nation book on why corporate employees are afraid to leave their jobs to start a business. A very common concern is that their "cushy" situation is as good as it gets, and they would be foolish to leave the "stability" of a corporate job for the "uncertainty" of entrepreneurial life. I would bet that those Lehman employees who had small gigs going on the side: consulting projects, eBay stores, blogs w/ad revenue, niche products, are feeling a little less panicked this morning.

“Focus on Reinvention, Not Recession” is the advice from Career Hub’s Sital Rupelia, who gives five tips on reinventing your career, including to experiment much more (number three).

Some people know they want to change themselves and their careers, but they just don't know what to change themselves into. Well here's a secret - you don't need to know. The only way to find out is to start the process of experimentation. Go shadow someone, volunteer your services, go out and try lots of types of roles. And then start noticing what you're drawn to - what you're drawn to is usually a good sign of the type of thing you should be transitioning into.

Reader Comments

CollegeSurfing Blog

October 6, 2008 11:01 AM

Thanks for this interesting roundup! I'm totally in agreement with reinventing your career -- sometimes you need a good kick in the pants to head back to school and do what you really want to do.

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Read daily reports and special features from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Lindsey Gerdes and Louis Lavelle about companies, careers, and other topics of interest to young professionals.

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