My weekday morning wake-up routine always includes at least a half-hour of news from National Public Radio, and this morning was no exception. I did hear an interesting bit in their news coverage today, however: some very good advice about how to cope with a layoff. I can’t find the story on their Website just yet, but if the dates on existing stories are any indication it will post tomorrow or the day after.
The essential points of this story were these:
- Americans have become much more rooted in their locations than they were even 10 years ago
- If you get laid off, it makes sense to move where the jobs are, rather than staying put and hoping for the best
Though it may be tempting to wait and see if the economic recovery or stimulus bucks from the US Government help to alleviate job scarcity in some areas, the reporter made the excellent point that the longer one waits to get into a new job, the more profound the resulting impact on feelings of self-esteem and well-being, as well as the greater the financial impact involved.
At 56 this news hit me like a slap in the face. I already hate to move my household and that tendency has only increased as I’ve gotten older. But it’s undeniable that the best way to find a job if you’re out of work is to go where the prospects are at least positive, rather than “slim to none.” Obviously this has the biggest impact on rural or non-metropolitan areas where a small number of big employers can cause a savage impact on the local economy through layoffs or site/plant closure.
Upon reflection and a grim encounter with my own resistance to the idea, I have to agree that when jobs are scarce, the best hunting has to be in those areas where there’s still some “game” to be found. And although I would hate to have to sell my house, pack up all my wordly goods, and uproot my family, it would be a better strategy than staying where only luck or connections might possibly lead to a new job in my current location.
But hey, except for a few short periods (none longer than 9 months) I’ve been a self-employed freelancer since 1994 (it will be 15 years in May of this year), and I’ve had to keep confronting the possibility of under-employment (or at least, under-earning) through good times and bad over that entire period. So let me end today’s blog with a series of “Big IFs” that might offer an alternative to those determined to stay put where they are, come hell or at least, no ready full-time permanent job prospects:
- If you can fund 3-6 months of living expenses out of savings or other ready cash resources
- If you can stomach the idea of being self-employed
- If you can pay for health insurance out of your own pocket (it costs me over $1,000 a month for a family of three)
- If you have skills you can turn into ongoing cash flow
- If you have customers who will part with their money in exchange for your work
Then you might be able to consider self-employment as an option to moving for another full-time, permanent job. Otherwise, it may be time to start scouting those locations where IT work is still to be had. Hint: start with the top 20 metropolitan areas first: work is where the employers and markets are most concentrated, and that’s where to find them.