Workforce Cast Offs Can Find Resources in the Social Net - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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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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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.


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