Sunday, January 30, 2011

7 Tips to Managing Joblessness


Managing joblessness...wait, did I say "joblessness?" I mean to say unemployment-induced helplessness. As many contemplate the end of their service in public schools as librarians, teachers, and instructional technologists due to Texas Budget Cuts, I've found taking the following actions helpful.

  1. Talk to everyone you know and ask for letters of recommendation. In a short time, those people you get letters of recommendation from may be unemployed or in different positions. Ask them now for letters that are undated and address various aspects of your expertise. Sure, you may be a technology expert, but if you're also certified in writing workshops or bilingual education--or pick your poison--then ask them to write about you from THAT perspective. That way, you have multiple letters reflecting the diverse talents you might exhibit when employed.
  2. Start a GoogleDoc list--I use the Spreadsheet--to keep track of all the jobs you've applied for, their status and resolution, etc. I've found this to be particularly gratifying, a concrete way to show that I'm not just sitting around waiting for someone to call me and say, "Hey, buddy, need a job?"
  3. Apply for jobs outside education. In this crisis, it's not enough to apply for jobs within education since there are hiring freezes in effect. Apply for jobs OUTSIDE education.
  4. Share the news with colleagues. Although job cuts are ubiquitous as a result of Texas State Legislature's proposed, unprecedented budget cuts, reach out to your professional learning network (PLN) and let people know what you're going through. You never know who might be reading that can provide insights.
  5. Update your resume, and build an ePortfolio site. When a colleague found out teammates would be losing their jobs, she offered to create ePortfolio sites for them at no cost. Of course, you can always build your ePortfolio site yourself using a wiki, such as GoogleSites (free), Wikispaces, or others and buy a domain name so that you can easily share that with others. Fortunately, I have always had a desire to keep my resume and eportfolio site up to date. You can find mine online at
  6. Become familiar with how to collect unemployment and handle health insurance. Be sure to ask your current employer what benefits are available to you. Don't forget to ask about vacation days, sick days, etc. and what happens next with those. In regards to health insurance, COBRA is health care you'll probably have to pay for and is mandated by law to be provided to you. This can be expensive, especially if you have children on your plan (as I do).

Finally, as a blogger/writer, I have to process my experiences by writing about them. Some how, sharing what I'm going through with others enables me to better endure what is happening to me. This improves my morale and impacts my attitude in profoundly positive ways.

What works for you? Any advice you have to share?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Allanah King said...

I don't know what to say to lighten the load or make it easier.

Thinking of you


Stephanie Sandifer said...

Hi Miguel,

A few other thoughts...

When looking for jobs in other fields, be sure to make a list of your skills -- not just job titles and responsibilities... For example, if you have lots of experiencing facilitating professional development then be sure to state that you have experience in adult learning , training, and/or andragogy -- think corporate training.

Keep an updated LinkedIn profile as well. I've been contacted with job offers from a variety of non-education corporations based on info in my LinkedIn profile that indicates I have knowledge/skills/background aplicable to being part of a corporate training team.

An ePortfolio can easily be included in the links on your LinkedIn profile.

Updated resume/CV -- Create this in a Google Doc. Publish it as a webpage and be sure to click the box to update the webpage whenever the original Google Doc is updated. My CV is set up like this and I include the link on both my LinkedIn profile and on my professional website/ePortfolio. When anyone asks for an emailed copy of my resume I just download a .pdf file of the current CV directly from Google Docs. I can't tell you how much this has simplified my process of keeping track of updated versions of my resume/CV.

Insurance -- shop around and try to avoid paying for COBRA. When I left my full-time district position last year I did apply for COBRA but had about one month of time on my insurance before COBRA kicked in. I used that time to shop around and found a decent policy before I had to start paying COBRA. Still not as inexpensive as my former employer insurance, but does give me more flexibility when considering employment options.

For those who live in major metro areas -- include Craigslist in your sites for job searching. ISDs typically don't list jobs there, but you may stumble across at least some temporary part-time ed-related work and I have seen occasional listings for vendors looking for product trainers, and ed-related startups looking to fill various positions.

Genuine Leadership #4: Gratitude