Laid off in America

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Thanks to Virginia for responding to my query of how she survived her layoff. While she was on unemployment, she did volunteer work. It gave her time to think about what she really wanted to do next rather than throwing herself straight into a job search. She ultimately dropped out of public relations and started her own gift shop!

And on to my news of the week, heck of the year! I have officially accepted a position as Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, starting in September. I am very excited. I think this will be a much better fit for me in terms of skills and personal preferences than the corporate america positions I was pursuing. I took a pretty hefty pay cut to do this. But what price a 9 month year, more freedom, and independence? What price a chance to be paid to think, to further knowledge, rather than run run run with my head down, no questions asked? What price a job in this time period? The very time when America is declaring war on Iraq? On the downside, politics are what has kept me out of academics thus far, they can get pretty nasty with a bunch of prima donna eggheads. But this department didn't sound as bad as some I've been privy too. And it won't hurt me to learn how to be more tactful.

Anyway, I plan to keep up this website, and would like to make it more interactive (any ideas are welcome). I've been wanting to write down my search tips for finding a job, anyway. Now I can really critique them in terms of what worked and what didn't. One tidbit of information I've come across. The average unemployed person spends 5 hours a week looking for a job. I regularly spent between 20 and 30. Those who spend 40 or more are more likely to find a job sooner (or die trying, I couldn't maintain that sort of schedule).

The first thing I did was try to get a handle on the current state of my profession when I got laid off. I learned so much. And none of it good. First, since I was in New York City,business capital of the free world, I figured everyone knew what an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist was. WRONG. I scared many HR people off and confused the rest, so I took that title and my PhD off my resume (IO psychologists pretty much developed HR). I also found out, via a professional association, that many IO psychologists in the area have left corporate america and either joined consulting firms or freelance. I wanted to work in corporate america not a consulting firm. Large companies in NYC were laying off people, those doing my sort of work were hunkering down, working long hours, and hoping no one noticed them. And what they were doing was pretty standard stuff, nothing cutting edge. And academics? Although I didn't pursue this to begin with, there is only 1 PhD department in IO psychology in Manhattan. There are none in NJ. None of this bode well for my search. This information let me know that 1. My search was going to be long and hard. 2. My search would include an educational component, what is an IO psychologist and why hire one? and 3. Perhaps I should change my career since my skills were obviously not overly welcome at the moment. I agonized over 3 for quite a while (including opening a Tea Shoppe and being a writer, both fantasies of mine). But what it boiled down to was I still resonate to this field. I was not done with it yet so planned to stick the search out.

My next step was to figure out who I was in the working world. You know, that smooth cocktail hour or elevator speech in answer to the question: What do you do?. Given the dismal state of affairs in business in general and in my field specifically. Given that no one knew what I was to begin with. I needed something snazzy. I'll talk about that next week. posted by Valerie 1:51 PM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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