Pink slips can lead to rosy forecast

Experts: Time-clock timeout can help perk up a career

When Marcy Morrison began writing her career “how-to” last year, she never anticipated that its release would coincide with record high unemployment numbers.

The La-Jolla based author, career strategist and founder of Careers With Wings has been working with outsourced employees, ranging from production workers to those in biotech, and she said many people are overwhelmed with anxiety, fear and anger.

“I kind of feel like I was a nurse on the battlefield for a while,” Morrison said.

The career first aid Morrison has been dispensing parallels the content of “Finding Your Passion: The Easy Guide to Your Dream Career” (Morgan James Publishing, April 2009), an interactive book designed to help people discover what they love to do and develop a plan to make it happen.

Despite the initial shock that accompanies the sudden loss of a job, Morrison said many of the people she encounters are seeing the potential in such an experience.

“What I’ve heard is people saying they weren’t happy in their job, and this forced them to make a change,” she said. “I see a lot of people almost taking a sabbatical.”

For many, being laid off gives them extra down time - time to spend with the children, time to exercise or time to volunteer.

It also provides an opportunity to explore career options.

Like other career coaches, Morrison said there is more to a job search than just polishing up a resume, especially if the person wants to take his or her career to the next level or find genuine satisfaction.

“I tell people that they really need to believe in themselves and trust their gut,” Morrison said.

Justin Gittelman, a business growth expert, founder and chief executive officer of The Gittelman Group of La Jolla, agrees: “You have to figure out what you want. What does it look like? What does it feel like?”

Unlike many, Gittelman sees unlimited potential in the current business atmosphere.

“Now is the time to be creative, innovative and adaptive,” he said. “We have to learn how to create new systems in our businesses and in our lives. The structure’s changing in front of our eyes. It’s time to redesign the life you’ve always wanted to achieve. Now is the time to go for it.”

Gittelman, who provides one-on-one consulting services as well as workshops and programs, said people need to consider not only their financial goals when assessing career options, but also health, personal relationships and lifestyle.

That echoes Morrison’s approach to finding one’s dream job: Step one is identifying interests, passions and strengths. From there, it’s all about exploring options and putting together an action plan.

Surprisingly, it is the actual finding of a job that can be most difficult for the unemployed and downsized.

Pattie Vargas, co-founder of NextWork, a career transition services organization, said the process has changed dramatically and it can take weeks, even months, for people to realize it.

“Probably the biggest thing is that whole concept of everything being online,” she said.

When job sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder launched a few years ago, they were a good way to find job leads, Vargas said. Now there are too many people competing for too few jobs, and sometimes companies post positions just to “test the waters.” Additionally, scammers are using sites such as these and Craigslist to post misleading ads that link to sales pitches or solicit personal information.

“There’s a whole lot more going on than just somebody posting an open position and someone applying for it,” Vargas said.

So how does someone find a job?

The single most productive tool for finding a job is networking, Vargas said.

With less than 40 percent of all jobs actually being advertised, the key to tapping what career coaches call “the hidden job market” is personal contact.

An important component of networking is to develop a marketing strategy.

“You’re marketing yourself as a product,” Vargas said.

Getting the edge

There are strategies that offer a distinct advantage in today’s competitive job market. Consider these suggestions from career strategists Marcy Morrison, Justin Gittelman and Pattie Vargas.

  • Read business journals to see what companies and industries are growing.
  • Look outside your current career boundaries for options; identify unfilled niches; consider offering your expertise as a consultant or launching your own business.
  • Network through alumni associations, professional groups and online sources such as
  • Utilize resources such as career counseling.
  • Generate a positive attitude and self-confidence.
  • Make technology work for you by using sites such as LinkedIn and Ecademy, posting your resume or portfolio online, writing a blog, creating a Web site, etc.
  • Create a resume that is accomplishment-based, not task-based.
  • Realize that the interviewing process has changed. Expect to undergo multiple or panel interviews and prepare for situational and/or behavior questions.
  • Develop a position statement to use in networking situations: I am a (profession and areas of expertise). My strengths are (skills and abilities) and I am passionate about (interests and values).

Spring Into Your New Career

  • April 17
  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • National University
  • 9388 Lightwave Ave.
  • $99
  • (760) 420-8444


Career Boot Camp

  • May 9
  • 9 a.m. to noon
  • UCSD Extension
  • 9600 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla
  • Fee: $60


Grants to jobless

  • UCSD Extension is offering grants to 250 San Diegans who are on unemployment. Those who apply online this year may enroll at no charge in up to three career seminars.
  • Seminars: $45-$75.