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Thursday, March 25, 2004

“Seize the day!” could be the battle cry for many people who have been downsized or terminated from their jobs.Dr. Bernard Weinstein, director of the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research, lists mergers, acquisitions and technological advancements, which require less labor, as causes of some of the recent U.S. job layoffs.Weinstein says recessions and other short-term business cycles, drops in corporate profits and budget shortfalls for state and local governments will correct themselves. In the meantime, he says job seekers should maintain a positive attitude, be flexible and seek more education, if necessary.Dr. Carolyn Kern, UNT associate professor of counseling and director of the university’s Counseling and Human Development Center Career Laboratory, offers additional advice.“Dealing with trauma of termination is about recovering and making a new beginning,” she says. “You can turn a devastating personal tragedy into a personal triumph.”She says the first priority after termination is to cope with the news.“When you lose a job, you lose relationships, a culture and a familiar environment,” she said. “Ask for time to collect your thoughts.”It’s wise to review termination policies, ask for outplacement assistance and prepare a written agenda for a final meeting, she says.Kern explains that controlling emotions in the workplace is vital to professional concerns.“Talk with someone you trust who will listen without making judgmental remarks,” she says. “It’s important to grieve about loss, but understand good things can come from change.”Kern advises people facing termination to do what they need to take care of themselves, including resting, relaxing, staying active and being social. As an individual recovers from the emotional setback of being unemployed, steps can be taken to explore new career options, she says. “What is seen as a loss can actually be a step forward into a better life,” she says. “Ask yourself what was good about your job. This will give you clues to what you should look for in your next position. Besides achievements, job seekers should also consider their knowledge and preparation, experience and work style.”It’s important to find a job related to your interests, she says. When economic concerns dictate taking a position as soon as possible, look for something that’s related to an area of interest.Dan Naegeli, director of UNT’s Student Employment/Career Services agrees. “Most of the time UNT alumni tell me they’re willing to make a job change, but they need money,” he says. “They don’t believe they can leave a field where they have experience to take a risk on searching for a career that better suits them.”Naegeli explains that many people in this situation feel trapped.A steady paycheck may keep a person in a job that’s no longer compatible with them, he says. But he adds that sometimes, a layoff is a wake up call to reexamine the purpose of life. “Change is inevitable,” he said. “Today’s workers must be flexible.”Naegeli says both the employed and unemployed should be forward thinking about their careers. When composing a resumé, Naegeli urges people to seek positions that agree with their core values. “Look at skills that can be used in a number of careers,” he said. “Look at ways to make your resumé stand out from others. Downplay those areas you’re no longer interested in pursuing and highlight the ones that are most enjoyable to you.”He also advises looking at achievements rather than tasks, and thinking of past experiences where the work yielded positive outcomes. Extract the highlights of these results for a resumé, he says. Naegeli says although a resumé is an important written account of what a job seeker can do for an employer, forming alliances can be the most powerful weapon for a job hunt.“More than 50 percent of jobs are filled through networking,” he says. “Not only is it helpful in capturing the right job, but it’s also a great support system in affirming your worth.” Naegeli explains that a well-developed network is job security. It allows a job seeker to take control of his or her career and manage the terms of his or her employment, he says. A network of job seekers can encourage each other, provide job leads and magnify each other’s efforts. “You never know who could help,” Naegeli says. “Ask family and friends, people in churches and civic organizations if they know of job openings.”Good breaks can come out of bad circumstances if you’re open to them, he says.“The more flexible you are, the more opportunities will emerge,” he says. “You can find a new career path.”

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