Oh how I held my nose when a whiff of change was blowing my way! Needless to say, a new senior executive was hungry to shake things up and he made his statement by completely pulling out of the sector I covered and laying off the team.
My initial reaction was not what you may have expected. It was one of joy and relief, I had been given a new lease on life! No longer would I be chained to the comfort of being in one place that I knew very well. No longer could I make the excuse that the stability and benefits the company offered would be sacrificed if I were to make the leap somewhere else. I had been given what I considered a decent severance package and health benefits for my family that could last me through the rest of the year.
My former employer set me up with an outplacement company for 6 months, probably because they figured I had been with the company for 9 years and had been out of the market for so long. The rep from the outplacement company was a bit surprised at my reaction, he said he had only seen a few people in his 25 year career that were as excited to be laid off as I was.
After a 10:30am Bloody Mary with my team leader who was also laid off, my thoughts immediately jumped to the next step. I had been investing aggressively and financing commercial property to rent to a friend’s business and although I had just recently invested in a huge expansion, by the time my severance ran out I would likely be seeing returns that could cover much of my basic living expenses for my family. Although this was enough to get by, my wife and I were not going to be enjoying life much off of that income alone.
That’s when the panic started to set in and I started asking myself the ‘what if’ questions. What if I never find a job paying this well again? What if I end up at another job only to hate it immediately? What if I can’t find a job in New York? Where would I go? Should I drop it all and dedicate my time to my commercial property business or look for another job? The life choices were almost overwhelming.
My wife and friends advised me to take some time off. They pointed out that I had been very high strung for many years due to the stress of my job and after a decade in finance in New York, even if I went back it was time for a bit of a break for at least a month they said.
Easy for them to say, a month unemployed is not a break to me, especially when you have a wife and kid to take care of and you were already thinking of expanding your family to a fourth member.
However, what I needed to do was step back for a moment. Although I had planned on a steady source of side income, I wasn’t at full early retirement yet. I have some co-investors in the commercial property that I would like to buy out and my family doesn’t have a home big enough for a larger family yet. So it was time to face up to reality and tell myself I needed to start looking for a job again. The first step was to get a sense of what type of market I was entering.
A Cold Hard Look at the Facts
Taking a moment to look at the facts, I guess I shouldn’t really be complaining. Although there was less job growth in the US economy in March at 98,000, it was the 78th consecutive month of job growth. Unemployment has fallen half a percentage point since last year and the economy has added 2.19 million jobs since this time last year (I have to thank the real estate company JLL who put together this set of labor market slides that I am borrowing here).
The current unemployment rate has hit 4.5%, which has continued the current downward trend from the height of the financial crisis which rocked employment in 2009-2010.
I should feel even luckier because I have an advanced degree and the current unemployment rate for holder’s of a bachelors degree is 2.5% as seen below. That’s so low it makes me wonder why I am typing this and no one has hired me yet!
If that weren’t enough, current job openings are at multi decade highs at 5.6 million. It’s no wonder that the rep at the outplacement company says this is the best job market he has seen since the dot com boom of the mid 90’s.
Despite all this, it is still quite a lifestyle change for me. After all I worked for a decade in a demanding high stress job that required constant monitoring of international markets, news, information and daily interaction with an array of different people.
It is strange to be knocked out of that world and back into thinking of the more earthly day to day worries such as paying bills, making sure I get up at the same time every morning and cleaning the house. For the first few days I got to turn off the financial news and just think to myself. Friends tried to pick me up by taking me to the bar but I didn’t find the results of that to be too productive in the following days either.
So now here I am settling in to a routine, picking back up my writing for this blog and revising my resume.
Speaking of resumes, apparently I had been out of the market for so long that I didn’t have an updated mid career resume. I was surprised to learn that now I get to have 2 pages instead of religiously sticking to the one pager as had been preached to me when I was younger.
I don’t mind so much writing the resume, it’s just recalling all the stuff I did for the last decade that is harder. I found myself having to look up the names of all the companies I worked with and calculating the approximate dollar size of the business and deposits I attracted. That wasn’t easy. I had to go back and recall what I did 9 years ago as an analyst and everything in between.
Knowing that I should never have my eyes be the only ones reviewing my resume I have sent it off to my rep at the outplacement company, a few colleagues and friends that work in HR for their review. Once we have some back and forth on the details, it’s off to the races for me.
Keeping Aware of Self
In the mean time I have been catching up on strategies to manage life being unemployed. I don’t think there is anyone who can spend 8 hours a day applying and looking for jobs, it can be dejecting after just four hours. Besides spending time with my family, cooking and cleaning, I am finding that trying to keep some semblance of a schedule is probably the most important part of mentally managing the process.
Rather than saying I will clean today, or take my son to a museum, I find that it helps for me to plan out a schedule the night before. At 7am I will wake up, at 9am I will handle my errands for the day, from 1-4 I will research companies and job search portals. At 6pm I will eat and at 7pm I will work out. I have found that trying to recreate a semblance of a schedule that I had in my previously employed life gives my day some structure and I can have some sense of accomplishment at the end of it.
As a friend of mine mentioned the other day, whether you realize it or not, working over a long period of time changes the way in which our brains are wired. In addition our brains change as we get older, we may derive more pleasure from mundane tasks and derive more pleasure from a sense of accomplishment than we did when we were younger. Even if no one is reading them, get ready for a lot more articles in the coming weeks as I continue my search.The information provided by www.cashchronicles.com is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. www.cashchronicles.com does not make any guarantee or other promise as to any results that may be obtained from using our content. No one should make any tax or investment decision without first consulting his or her own financial advisor or accountant and conducting his or her own research and due diligence. To the maximum extent permitted by law, www.cashchronicles.com disclaims any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses. Content contained on or made available through the website is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice or investment advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Your use of the information on the website or materials linked from the Web is at your own risk.