Wednesday, August 01, 2012




Yet another one of my friends was laid off on Wednesday, and I have felt the blade on the back of my own neck several times over the last three years. So voluntary unemployment is very top of mind for me. If you know anyone who could use these tips, please pass them along.

1) Tell everyone. Unemployment has touched just about everyone. Either a friend or a family member has found themselves in your predicament. You'll find a lot of sympathetic ears and a lot of good advice.

2) Get your own email ... pronto! I'm always surprised how many people only have email through work. We live in an online world, and you can't afford to be without email for your job search. Also, once a company lets you go, they will suspend your access to the Internet so you should have all your important personal files at your fingertips ... at home.

3) Update your LinkedIn profile. If you're not already at, get over there! Lots of prospective employers are bypassing recruiters and reaching out to candidates directly through Linked In.

4) Find out about your unemployment benefits. They differ from state to state. But, if you were laid off, you're entitled to them. Get them.

5) Figure out what to do with your healthcare insurance. NOW. Sick people can't go on interviews. As expensive as this insurance is, you can't afford to be without it.

6) Look at your budget. See what you can cut. Do you really need Showtime and HBO? Remember, in addition to books, you can also get DVDs from your library, so get rid of Netflix. Bring coupons to the grocery store and switch to store brands. You get the idea.

7) But don't skimp on yourself. It may sound shallow, but you have to keep up your appearance. You're going to be meeting new people as part of your job search and you can't unmake a bad first impression.

8) Work on your job search every day. From now on, think of getting your next job as your current job.

9) Try new things. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Join a book club. Sing in the church choir. Doing new things will keep you sharp and, just as important, expose you to new people … who know people … who could have job leads.

10) Explore continuing education. Are there computer programs you could learn? Would a class in business writing help make you more employable? Your local community college could be a terrific, affordable resource.

11) Supplement your income. There are websites like Sitter City and Craig's List that match people with dog walkers, tutors, etc. Maybe you have skills that can bring in extra money every week.

12) Make sure your resume presents you in the best light. Perhaps a resume writing service can help. It's an investment in yourself and your future, and it may be tax deductible.

13) Tell everyone! Yeah, I know I said it before, but it bears repeating. Having a supportive network around you can make you feel positive, and a good outlook can make all the difference in the world at a time like this.

For more information about 

the Thursday Thirteen,

or to play yourself, click here.

My best friend hung up on me

Because he didn't want me to hear him cry. He had just been laid off with no benefits and no severance. He feels like such a failure, and he doesn't know how to face his wife and daughters. After I called him back several times and got no answer, he shot me an email, apologizing for "dropping the phone."

My feelings about this are very complicated. Of course I'm heartbroken for him. On the other hand, he hasn't liked this job for a while, and maybe this is an opportunity to try something new. But then, there's the HOUSE. 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a den, and multiple fireplaces. They will never be able to sell that sucker in this market. So whatever he does next, he has to make enough to pay that freaking mortgage. I never thought that house was a good idea, but that doesn't mean I don't hate being right.

I also wish he didn't feel embarrassed about the tears. This is ME, after all. He knows I'll love him no matter what, that I have faith in him. And that his family loves him, too. I told him they treasure him for who he is, not what he does. I'm very good with being right about that.

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 1

Today's happiness is: a good lunchtime. It's sunny and 88º today. Funny how cool and comfortable 88º can feel in this summer of 100º+ temps! So I tucked my paperback in my purse and headed out for a walk. The sidewalks were full and it was fun to look at my city through a tourist's eyes. One woman actually stopped in the middle of the crosswalk at Wabash and Madison to take a photo from under the el tracks. I guess the sight of trains rambling along a seemingly endless expanse of overhead tracks is pretty amazing. I'm just so used to it that I don't really see it anymore. 

Then I stopped at a little Italian restaurant I'd forgotten about. You have a place like this in your town, you know you do: pictures of Sinatra and local sports heroes, flat screen TVs on the walls. And a bar! (Don't tell anyone, but I had a beer.) I enjoyed my individual deep dish pizza and then walked back along Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park. I wish all summer could be this temperate, and all lunches could be this relaxing. 

Here's a brief explanation of the Challenge: "Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world."

If you play along, let me know.


I Want Wednesday

I want these zits to fade! The three marks on my chin are still a loud, angry red.