OP-ED: The Realities of an Uncertain Economy

To whom it may concern:

So, you have been displaced in a tough economy. It happens, and know that other people are suffering too. The key is to not let it get you down. Be proactive and positive. Take the time to do a physical and mental health check. Get some exercise, keep regular hours, and talk to a professional before you start feeling down.

It's not personal and regardless of how you might feel right now, your skills are needed somewhere else. Here are some things you should do right away:

  1. Never retaliate, threaten, or do anything to damage your relationship with your prior employer. You may be upset, but some of these people will be future employers at other locations.
  2. Evaluate a severance package against unemployment benefits before signing anything; seek legal advice if it seems complicated. One or two week's severance may not be as valuable as unemployment benefits.
  3. Collect letters of recommendation from everyone you can and stay in touch with acquaintances, even the manager who gave you the bad news.
  4. If you decline a severance package, file for unemployment immediately.
  5. Transfer 401K funds to a self-directed IRA; you may need them in an emergency and sometimes you can borrow against them. Ask a legal or financial adviser.
  6. You should be eligible for temporary, extended medical coverage. Know your rights.
  7. Be open-minded about temporary contract work; often, these rates are higher and you can start getting paid immediately.
  8. Contact job placement agencies and head hunters; let them know you are available for immediate work.
  9. Contact family and friends; don't be ashamed. If you live long enough, everyone experiences hardship.
  10. Update your résumé.
  11. Post your resume on monster.com, dice.com, computerjobs.com, and any other bulletin board you can think of.
  12. Join a group that focuses on your line of work; it's a great way to network.
  13. Use the off-time to update your skills. Enroll in an extension course at your local community college, university, or community education center.
  14. Finally, pay the basics—mortgage, gas, lights, groceries, and phone. The cable bill, credit cards, and similar things often can go several months if necessary. However, don't avoid creditors. They often have temporary hardship programs and may lower your payments or even suspend them temporarily.

In closing, I ran my own consulting business for 15 years. Looking for the next customer or opportunity was a routine fact of life. Updated skills, a positive attitude, and a can-do spirit always prevails.

About the Author

Paul Kimmel is the VB Today columnist for www.codeguru.com and has written several books on object-oriented programming and .NET. Check out his upcoming book LINQ Unleashed for C# now available on Amazon.com and fine bookstores everywhere. Look for his upcoming book Teach Yourself the ADO.NET Entity Framework in 24 Hours. You may contact him for technology questions at pkimmel@softconcepts.com.

Copyright © 2008 by Paul T. Kimmel. All Rights Reserved.



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