The long layover

From restaurant managers to financial advisers to graphic designers, no one is immune to the possibility of being laid off. But Nashville-based employment analyst Evan Woodson says the important thing is knowing how to bounce back after receiving a pink slip.

Data from the to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that layoffs have slowed down in past months, but the numbers of unemployed are still much higher than in previous years. Tennessee’s unemployment rate as of May was 10.7 percent, up 0.8 percent from the previous month and up 4.5 percent from last year.

Read on to find your job-seeking style and find out if you've got what it takes to make the best of a long layover.

An indefinite detour

Stan McNatt
Photo provided

Stan McNatt, 31, moved to Nashville last year for a management position at a new Saltgrass Steakhouse. A year later, Saltgrass closed unexpectedly and McNatt was given a small severance package.

“Basically, I showed up at 5 a.m. and all the signs were pulled down,” McNatt said. “I spent the rest of the day taking down the restaurant and telling employees that they didn’t have a job anymore.”

For McNatt, it was one of the first signs of serious local economic trouble. His fears were substantiated after weeks of searching for a new job.

“There were so many restaurants in Nashville, but none were hiring managers,” McNatt said.

To his dismay, he made plans to move back to Texas fearing that his severance money would run out before he found a job.

“I really loved Nashville and didn’t want to leave, but it was just one of those things,” McNatt said.

Now bartending at J. Alexander’s about 25 miles north of Houston in Woodlands, Tex., McNatt is rebuilding his savings and looking at management opportunities to get his life back to normal.

“You can’t even really tell there’s a recession down here with all the oil and NASA,” McNatt said. “We have a really good market.”

Woodson's analysis: We're seeing an enormous influx of people moving here (to Nashville) from Las Vegas and California. I won't say that its a bad thing to relocate for a job if you're moving somewhere you want to be. The largest reason companies hesitate on hiring people from out of state is a high turnover risk, especially if you transfer within company more than once. When you get to a point where you have lots of jobs within a short time, its harder to gain the interest of career-seeking employers. And, if you leave a city because it has a poor economic climate, employers must wonder if you'll want to move back to that city once the economy bounces back.

Final thought: Not hiring someone because of where they're from is something a company can be sued for, Woodson said. Relocation isn't a bad option if you're moving to a city you enjoy for a position you'll be satisfied with.

Full speed ahead

John Wade
Photo provided

In many lines of work, layoffs make their way quickly up the food chain. When John Wade, 39, president of the GLBT Chamber of Commerce and then-financial advisor at UBS Financial Services, was laid off in April, it came as a surprise to many – but not him.

UBS announced earlier this year that between 7,500 and 8,500 employees would be shaved off the company’s global roster.

“When I heard layoffs were coming, I went ahead and started talking to people just to be prepared,” Wade said.

Having been with UBS for 3 years, he said he expected he’d be let go before many of his coworkers. On April 24, Wade was laid off from UBS and quickly began meeting with potential employers.

“I talked to everyone who would talk to me,” Wade said.

He set up interviews with nine firms and received a strong offer from three of them. On May 22, Wade accepted a position with Wunderlich Securities Inc., less than a month after being laid off.

He attributes the quick re-employment to a large network of contacts.

“Of the firms I met with, I didn’t make a single cold call,” Wade said. “Someone put me in touch with everyone I talked to. That’s why networking is so important.”

Woodson's analysis: John did everything right. It is important to keep your networks growing even when you are employed. That way, if you lose your job, you are in a situation where you can say, "I'm looking for job openings. Who can you refer me to?" It's also good to create a profile on social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can manipulate the profile to be a resume, join the right groups and market yourself to potential employers.

Final thought: More important than hitting the ground running after you've been let go, it's better to be proactive and keep your feelers out even while you're employed.

A mandatory hiatus

Neil Ward
Photo by Joey Leslie

Neil Ward spends many of his days poolside thumbing his way through “English Grammar for Dummies” at his Hermitage apartment after being laid of from a PR firm in late May.

He considers it multitasking – working on his tan as well as his employment skills, organizing his portfolio or looking at job ads online.

While the free time isn’t entirely unwelcome, Ward said it isn’t how he expected to be living when he moved to Nashville from New York last September.

“I’m having to carefully manage my funds,” Ward said. “I have an unemployment check every week, but I’m mainly living on credit lines at the moment.”

He recently returned from a trip to New York where he visited his family and will be traveling to Cherokee North Carolina this month.

“My friends are going and I figured I might as well go meet them since I’m not doing anything,’ Ward said.
While he spends several hours a week looking for jobs online and in local newspapers, a good portion of his time is still devoted to relaxing.

“I’m not really worrying about it, but I think I need to,” Ward said. “I was laid off, then went on vacation, so now I need to set up a plan of action and set a goal. Its time to regroup and figure out how I’m going to do it.”

Ward said he’s cut back on dining out and going to bars and sticks strictly to a set list while grocery shopping, now.

“Otherwise, I’d end up spending $30 more on what I don’t need,” Ward said. “I’m working toward keeping my credit line down, a little.”

Woodson's analysis: Having an employment gap on your resume could prove highly dangerous for your career. If you become unemployed and it's becoming a long period of time, you run in to a situation where it becomes hard to sell yourself months later when you're looking for work. Employers could see you as rusty or worry that it could be a culture shock for you once you're back in the working world.

Final thought: Better than to become a hopeless job seeker, volunteer your services and time for a company or non-profit that can use your skills. This way, there's no gap on your resume and potential employers will see that you were willing to work without pay in order to stay on top of your game and maintain your skill set.

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