SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Grieve job loss, and then move on

By Billy O'Keefe

By Amanda Dolasinski
After getting laid off, it’s OK to sit on the couch in pajamas and eat a pint of ice cream every day for a week — as long as there’s a deadline on the pity party.

Advice from the experts
• Take time to grieve, but set a deadline
• Revisit your track record (awards, accomplishments, etc.)
• Create a plan of attack (update resume, get a Web site, print business cards)
• Do traditional networking at events
• Add yourself to online job boards, such as Facebook and LinkedIn
• Let people know you’re on the job market; use past contacts
• Recognize that a layoff is an opportunity in disguise
• Stay open to different opportunities because they could lead to what you really want to do

Each of the three guest speakers at the “Burned Out, Laid Off or Bought Out?” program Thursday has been laid off in the past year, and each has moved on to continue successful careers.
Isha Cogborn was downsized from The Dow Chemical Co. in February. She took her time to grieve but then got down to business.
“I had decided, long before I was laid off, when the time came, I wasn’t going to work for anybody else ever again,” she said. “I wasn’t going to work a 9 – 5 living somebody else’s vision.”
Cogborn is now a life coach and speaker at the Epiphany Institute, Cogborn’s own coaching program for professionals and emerging leaders. She encourages those who have been laid off to take time to grieve and then revisit the positive times, such as winning awards. A person’s talent, ability, passion and experiences, what she calls “the tale of the TAPE,” are the qualities that can set the person apart.
“They’ll give you an unfair, competitive advantage,” she said. “A layoff can be a do-over. Embrace that.”
It took Holly Fisher a little bit longer to come to peace with her company’s decision to lay her off. Five minutes before 5 p.m. on a Wednesday, the two top bosses called her in for a meeting. She walked out unemployed.
“I called my husband and said, ‘I’m going to be late. I have to clean up my desk I don’t have a job anymore,’” she said. “I had to try to hold myself together and get my things to my car.”
Once she let herself grieve for a few weeks, she picked herself up. Fisher updated her resume, bought a domain name and ordered free business cards from Vistaprint.com. She informed sources whom she had become close to while covering them at SC Biz News LLC that she was on the job market. Fisher found various freelancing assignments that way.
“Think of how you want to package yourself,” she said. “There are a lot of things you can do and stay in communications and use writing and research skills.”
Fisher is freelancing for several publications in Charleston, S.C.
Mark Scarp, however, had more time to prepare for his layoff. Last October, he was told he would be one of about half of the East Valley Tribune reporters laid off, effective Jan. 1. He felt disconnected at first, he said, but realized he needed to stay in touch with his former colleagues at the Phoenix newspaper to get ahead.
“It’s up to you to raise your profile,” he said. “The place where most people know where to find you isn’t where you are anymore. Let them know what you’re doing and that you’re on the job market.”
Scarp is now an adjunct professor at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.




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