Career Change

Holding My Breath

Posted in Career Change on March 29th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

I’m holding my breath.

As I’m writing this on Sunday night, I’m aware of an organization that tomorrow will go through staff layoffs.  I’m anxious for friends within the organization that might be laid off.  I’m also mindful of friends who will have the assignment to deliver bad news.  It’s going to be a difficult day for everyone concerned.

These are difficult times for lots of folks.  One of my twitter friends was called into a meeting Friday.  He’s a survivor, but noted that the parking lot will have empty spaces this week because others are not.

You also probably know people in organizations going through layoffs.

None of us are untouched, whether we’re directly affected or not.  We’re all grieving, whether we’ve lost our job, or friends or family have lost their job.

So tonight I’m holding my breath.  And praying.

What Happens to an Organization That Lays People Off?

Posted in Career Change on March 26th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off
Termination Letter

Termination Letter

What happens to an organization that lays people off?  They suffer.  Severely.  The productivity of the organization declines, and the quality of the company’s product or service declines.

An interesting article at provides some sobering statistics.

  • 74% of employees who kept their job amidst a corporate layoff say their own productivity has declined since the layoff.
  • 69% say the quality of their company’s product or service has declined since the layoffs.
  • 77% of surviving workers say they see more errors and mistakes being made.

Even though I’ve survived a number of layoffs myself,  I still find the magnitude of these statistics frightening.

As I’m aware of universities, hospitals, oil field service companies, and all manner of other businesses going through or about to go through layoffs, I’m deeply saddened.  And worried about the larger effect on our communities, upon our nation.

  • What happens if a major hospital suffers a decline in staff productivity, a decrease in service level, and an increase in errors and mistakes?
  • What happens if a university suffers a decline in faculty productivity, a decrease in service levels, and an increase in errors and mistakes?

What about your organization?  If you’ve gone through layoffs, what kind of productivity declines have you seen, what kinds of errors and mistakes have you seen?  Is it possible that the cost of the lower productivity and the higher errors and mistakes far outweighs cost savings from personnel reductions?  My guess is yes.

photo:  Shadrach Christopoulos (Flickr)

Most Powerful Words: I need your help.

Posted in Career Change, Caregiving, Illness on March 23rd, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off
Need Help

Need Help

One of the most powerful phrases in the English language is:  I need your help.

People everywhere love to be able to help someone else.  What keeps them from doing so is that they don’t know who needs help, or even if they do, they don’t know what help those folks need and how they could provide that help.

Turns out that if you will just use this powerful phrase, almost anyone will do their best to provide the help you need.   It works in person, it works on the telephone, and it works with email.

Here’s a script where you can just fill in the blanks:  “Hi.  My name is ______ and I need your help.  What I need help with is ______________.  Can you help me with that?”

Several years ago there was a woman in our job seeker group who missed the deadline for submitting an electronic resume for a job she was eminently qualified for.  So she took a paper resume to the employer’s location and asked the receptionist to help her by giving her resume to the HR representative.  The receptionist was happy to help, and the woman got the job.

I’ve seen it work over and over in an amazing variety of situations.

Put it to the test.  Make a list of the things you need, whether you’re a job seeker, a caregiver, or someone dealing with a chronic illness.  Think of people who might be able to help you with what you need.  Then make your requests.  You’ll be amazed at the goodness of people.

Bless some one’s life by letting them help you.  And be blessed in turn.


Photo Credit: annethelibrarian on Flickr

New e Book: Making Career Changes

Posted in Career Change on March 8th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – 2 Comments

My new e book, Making Career Changes, is now available for download in the side bar.

It’s not a how-to book per se, but more an explanation of how the hiring process and therefore the job seeking process work. It’s a series of blog posts I wrote several years ago when actively leading a job seeker support group as well as doing career change coaching.

For a how-to book, nothing beats What Color is Your Parachute.   In fact, you’ll see several references to it in my book, and some of my articles deal specifically with material from Parachute.

If you would like to use the material in a class or support group or in some other way, please note that although it is copyrighted, I have made how you can use the material without asking me permission as liberal as possible.

I hope you find it useful, either for yourself or for someone who is between jobs.

Thinking About Job Loss

Posted in Career Change on March 5th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

It’s not news to anyone.  Lots of people are out of work, and it looks like there will be more before it all improves.

I talked to a friend last night and another this morning who are job hunting. Earlier in the week, I received an email from from a pastor in Wisconsin asking permission to use one of my articles on faith and job loss in his seminars for folks who had lost their jobs.  The article was written several years ago when I was leading a job seeker support group and doing career change coaching.  (Interestingly, it was on page 1 on Google.)

I’m finding myself sad that I need to have these conversations again, that people are digging up my stuff about career change.  Mostly, that sadness is for what families go through during seasons when they’re between jobs.  It’s a tough time, with lots of grieving.

But being between jobs is also a spiritual journey, and that can be a very healthy thing in the long term.  It’s just hard to go through at the time.

So I’ve downloaded a bunch of the blog posts I wrote a few years ago, and after editing, I’ll post the collection as an e book as a resource for folks caught between jobs and those who are sojourning with them.  And some of us are in discussions about starting a support group again.

In the meantime, I’ll share with you a couple of the most important things I learned from that season.

  1. Get a copy (or dust off the one you have) of What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles.  There’s good reason it’s been the best selling job finding book for over 40 years.  It’s practical, and it’s advice works.
  2. Develop a good personal support group to help you on this journey.
  3. Resolve to go beyond the ordinary in your job search. Unusual times call for unusual measures.
  4. Discount the negativity from the news and the hallway conversations.