When the Industry Bubble Bursts
To all those whose gainful employment has fallen victim to this crummy economy, I’ve felt your pain. Twice.
My first layoff was in 2000, just as the dot-com bubble was about to burst. The well-established media company that hired me had recently merged with a digital music website and was suddenly poised to beef up the editorial staffs at its two magazines. I was lured away from a secure position as managing editor for Philadelphia Weekly by the prospect of working in Manhattan and a salary that, alas, couldn’t get me east of the Palisades.
Two months later, we were just getting acclimated to our overheated co-op apartment in North Bergen, N.J.—and me to my hour-long commute to a city whose skyline I could see from my backyard—when everyone old and new was summoned into the lobby of our Midtown office. A downsizing was already in the works, though I was told I had nothing to worry about.
After a month or so, while I was visiting relatives in Florida, I received a phone call from my boss: There was no need to come into work when I got back. The contents of my desk arrived at my home via UPS a week later.
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My second layoff was worse, mostly because it was poorly disguised as a firing. The startup magazine I was hired to oversee had simply run out of money. I know that now because it disappeared from newsstands less than one year after I was canned.
It’s a good thing I love what I do, because the publishing industry is a tough haul in both good times and bad. Apparently, loving what you do is more important than ever these days. Senior editor Tara Behan discovered as much in her research for “Take Two,” which spotlights seven local entrepreneurs who reinvented themselves in occupations they now see as their dream jobs.
If you’re still out there looking, it appears there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “I saw the employment environment begin to take baby steps toward improvement beginning last Labor Day,” local staffing expert Kenny Dubin told MLT contributor Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, whose interview with Dubin can be found here. “Since then, it has continued at a slow but steady pace.”
Dubin advises job seekers to expand their reach beyond their chosen fields. “Say you were a CFO in the manufacturing industry, which is on the decline; other industries need accountants, too,” he says. “Don’t get stuck on titles—titles can kill.”
And so can selling yourself short. “Most people think entrepreneurs are risk-takers, but I don’t think that’s true,” says Hugh Brownstone, one of the dream-jobbers Behan profiles in our cover story. “In today’s era, it’s riskier to work for corporations and rely on other people than to take that same effort and rely on yourself. It’s less risky to be an entrepreneur if you’re good at it. Take a chance on yourself.”
Sage advice for all of us.
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