Monday, May 29, 2000


Job will soon be gone: Don't panic, get moving

By Michael A. Crom
Gannett News Service

        Question: I am absolutely terrified of the future. I've been a secretary for the regional office of a large insurance company for more than 20 years, and I just found out that the office will be closing in three months.

        I've never had another job. I don't even know how to look for a job. I don't know if my skills will transfer to another company. I'm a single mother with two grade-schoolers, and I have to have a job.

        Everyone tells me I won't have trouble in this market, but I'm too worried to even think about it. — Sylvia.

        Answer: First of all, get a handle on your worries. It's not doing your health any good to worry about the future. I'll bet it's taking a toll on your current work performance as well as your family life.

        Here are some strategies for helping you through the next few months:

        • Cooperate with the inevitable. Your office is closing. You'll need to find a new job. Those are facts you can't change, so there's no sense fretting about them. Remember that everyone has unexpected changes in their lives.

        This isn't a disaster, it's just a normal part of living.

        • Keep busy. You're lucky to have three months' notice to collect the information you need.

        First, list all the people at your current job who would give you a good recommendation, then go to them and ask whom they know that might be needing your skills.

        Second, evaluate those skills. Look at the jobs available in your community and analyze what skills they take. Call some human resource people to determine what skills are in demand. You may find you need some short courses in computer skills, for example.

        Also use this time to take stock of your resources. Are you getting severance pay? Do you have money available from a retirement program? How much do you have in savings? How much would you get from unemployment compensation and other sources such as child support? How long will you be able to extend your healthcare coverage? Is there a good market for temporary employment with your skills?

        Chances are you'll find you have much longer than three months to find that new job.

        • Decide just how much anxiety a thing may be worth and refuse to give it more. Once you've analyzed your situation and come up with a plan for finding a new job, you'll likely find there isn't much to worry about.

        In addition, you're a very capable worker or you wouldn't have been with this firm for 20 years. You definitely have skills to offer other companies.

        Of course, you do have some things to worry about, most important, your two children. However, children are flexible as long as you don't show too much anxiety about a situation. Treat this as natural, and they will, too. They'll even accept some belt tightening if you explain it to them.

        • Live in “day-tight compartments.” There's no question that some days will be rough. When you feel overwhelmed with stress and worry, remember to take one minute at a time. Deal with each situation as it arises and don't think about tomorrow. Get through the moment.

        If you have a question or need advice on a certain topic, please e-mail us at or mail us at Dale Carnegie Training, 780 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017.

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