I’ve had several discussions over the last several weeks about the dearth of available jobs, layoffs, the fear of layoffs, and how difficult it is to find a job in this climate. So I’ve decided to speak on this subject from an owner/management team perspective.
First, I must lead with the fact that there are still a number of jobs available. The US is at an unemployment rate somewhat higher than 9%, which is lower than the 10% last year, which is lower still than the perennial 13% unemployment that France has…in good times. One thing I think people have lost is perspective. If I hear one more person compare this to the Great Depression when the US had 45% unemployment I will scream. Not being able to go out for dinner once a week does NOT compare to needing to beg your neighbor for a piece of bread and some butter!
Entrepreneurs are job creators. But sometimes we must be job eliminators to ensure that the company survives. Perhaps sales are declining or perhaps the company pursued a particular strategy gung ho that didn’t work out. Whatever the reason, most companies that have any longevity will face the issue of having to lay off one or more employees. In light of all the fear and uncertainty in the job marketplace, taking steps to prepare employees to seek out and successfully locate another job is one of the most humane and thoughtful things you can do as an owner or executive manager.
In speaking with people, I can see that many people have no idea of their capabilities and have minimal confidence as to their ability to find a job. With that attitude, they are doomed from the start. Therefore, the most important service a company laying off employing can do is to provide them, if at all possible, with job search support from a service that focuses on shoring up an employee’s confidence. In no particular order, I suggest the following:
- Identify and contract with a job search service provider that has a strong track record in helping individuals find jobs. Pay the fees directly or provide heavy subsidizing of the fees.
- Help employees, via contracted company, identify their strengths – what makes them good at what they do.
- Help employees write/learn to write resumes and cover letters which communicate these strengths.
- Teach employees that networking doesn’t mean you have a strong rolodex. Anyone they know could be a potential job lead. They need to clarify specifically what type of job and/or company they are interested in and spread that word to everyone they know via emails, phone calls, in person meetings, etc.
- Understand that, even in the digital age, nothing beats the personal touch. Do not rely on electronic job boards to find a job. Identify the 5-10 companies that they’d like to work for and pursue those companies directly. Just as your company is laying off , other small businesses may be hiring one or two people. Small businesses do not typically use job boards or recruiters. More often than not, they use word of mouth and referrals. According to “What Color is My Parachute”, even in a recession, 90% of the people who use two “push” methods (where people seek out and directly pursue positions with companies they are interested in) have jobs within 4 months of a concerted effort, while less than 50% of those who use a “pull” method (where people only apply for jobs already posted on job boards, etc.) find a job within that same period.
As an owner or executive management team member, it is not your job to find your employee another job. However, when they worked for you your role was to empower them and help them realize their potential. By arming them with services that help them do the above, you continue to play your role even in this unfortunate scenario.