Workforce Cast Offs Can Find Resources in the Social Net

Former CBS talk show host launches site to help laid-off cope with others

1212_bus_rene-sylerEveryday the employment news is getting bleaker: Bank of America Corp. announces it plans to reduce its workforce by 35,000 over the next three years, Office Depot Inc. puts 2,200 jobs on the chopping block, and Yahoo! Inc. terminated 1,500 people last Wednesday. In November alone, the U.S. Department of Labor said 533,000 American jobs were cut. Those numbers capture the jobs lost, but not the lives that have been broken.

Rene Syler, who was fired from her job as co-anchor at the CBS News Early Show two years ago, realized that within the ranks of unemployed workers there is a community waiting to be put to use. So, upon hearing the sting of fear and pain in yet another acquaintance who had been let go, Syler decided to start the social networking site Ivebeenlaidoff.ning.com.

“Having been there, I do understand and can relate to the hurt, shock, incredible disappointment and fear that people are going through,” says Syler, who launched the site Dec. 5.

The Department of Labor estimated earlier this month that 1.9 million jobs have expired since the beginning of the recession, which economist say began in December 2007. In the face of such a daunting outlook, Syler sought to establish an online environment for the unemployed to feel safe talking and venting, while sharing ideas, potential job offers, and advice. Eventually, she plans to address some of the practical aspects of looking for work.

Last week Syler posted a Q&A with Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist and the multicultural editor of BeWell.com, who discussed the stages of emotional devastation after losing a job.

“People are more apt to listen to info when it comes from someone who has been there instead of an ’expert,’ ” explains Syler. “You can get people who are on both sides of the coin. There are a number of people on the site who haven’t been laid off, but they are fearful or know that it could happen to them. The ones who are [unemployed] now can look to the ones who have been there to shepherd and guide them through.”

Syler’s site could be very beneficial to those who need to talk out their experience with others as long as it is done in a way that is productive and it is not a pity party, says Annya Lott, careers editor for Black Enterprise.

“Clearly being unemployed right now is really scary. Seeking emotional help to work through the doubt, fear, and anxiety is really important,” says Lott. “So of course you want to update your resume and sharpen your interviewing skills, but all of the external stuff you do to get employed you also need to do internally.”

Syler used ning.com, a do-it-yourself social network because the Ning template was easy to set up and the price was right—free. She plans to launch a dotcom later when she gets more time, but social networking sites are so popular it might not be necessary. LinkedIn,

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • Jared Cook

    Hi my name is Jared Cook. I am a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch in the Newark, NJ office who specializes in 401K Rollovers for people who are either laid off or just changing jobs. It would be great if we could somehow form a partnership and help provide the financial guidance that is needed during these tough times.

  • http://www.stepwiseassociates.com Marsha Haygood

    Although many people are being laid off, there are still many opportunities available to those with skills and the right attitude.
    Working with a career coach during these uncertain times is an ideal way to take a fresh look at where you are in your career and work toward self development and clarifying your goals.
    Marsha Haygood
    StepWise Associates
    http://www.stepwiseassociates.com

  • Julian L. Combs

    I have been laidoff since November 7th 2007! I have several strikes against me: 1) I’m Black and, have been since birth(smile); 2)I’m seventy three and, don’t act or look it but I am! I have been in Human Resources Recruiting since 1981 and, while that makes me well experienced I’m a “little long in the tooth” for most companies. Black Enterprise had an employment opportunity at Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and, I applied in October. They didn’t give me the courtesy of a reply! I applied again today because they are still looking and, they stated I had already applied! I also have a B.A. in Television Productions! I’ve been to every Job Board(Daily), Job Fairs etc. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Julian L. Combs

    I have been laidoff since November 7th 2007! I have several strikes against me: 1) I’m Black and, have been since birth(smile); 2)I’m seventy three and, don’t act or look it but I am! I have been in Human Resources Recruiting since 1981 and, while that makes me well experienced I’m a “little long in the tooth” for most companies. Black Enterprise had an employment opportunity at Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and, I applied in October. They didn’t give me the courtesy of a reply! I applied again today because they are still looking and, they stated I had already applied! I also have a B.A. in Television Productions! I’ve been to every Job Board(Daily), Job Fairs etc. Do you have any Suggestions?

  • http://www.goRaiseTheBar.com Dee Marshall

    @Julian L. Combs,

    Julian:
    Sorry to hear about your situation…

    1.If you’re not getting interviews, perhaps you should revise your resume.
    2.If you’re not getting call backs after interviewing, perhaps you should ask for feedback and then do something about it.
    3.If you’re not finding viable opportunities where you are, consider relocating.
    4.If you’re lacking contacts, expand your network.
    5.If you want/need additional skills or competencies, consider taking a course/seminar. You can also volunteer and take a seat on a Board of Directors.
    6.Have you considered switching industries… perhaps recruiting in a different industry… college/university recruiting?
    7.Join a professional organization like SHRM or NAAHR (google them).
    8.Don’t rely on the virtual world to get you a job. It’s very hard to get any traction, so I suggest you work on personal marketing, personal networking and don’t be afraid of the social network. Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn?
    9.What’s your brand say about you. Are you sure you’re presenting the best you? Are you putting your best foot forward? Are you bringing you’re a game? How do you stack up against your peers in industry? Check your appearance, polish, presence, attitude and energy.
    10.Lastly if nothing happens, pray and find out what this life situation is trying to teach you.
    11.Hire a Coach.

    Stay positive. Change is going to come.

    Coach Dee Marshall
    Raise The Bar, LLC
    Coaching, Training, Development.
    http://www.goRaiseTheBar.com

  • http://www.stepwiseassociates.com Marsha Haygood

    Julian
    I wholeheartedly agree with the feedback given in the above comments. Rather than cast blame, it is a good idea to remain positive, look within and make changes where you can to get the results that you want. A change in your job search method and possibly your resume format may be just what you need. Investing in a coach to help you through this process seems like a good idea.
    I wish you all the best.
    May your unigue gifts lead to much success in 2009!
    Marsha Haygood
    Career/Life Coach
    StepWise Associates
    http://www.stepwiseassociates.com