|Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez|
By Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez , www.LatinoLA.com
Edited by Susan Aceves
I have a deep and abiding concern for those who have been laid off or suspect that they may be laid off in the near future. Most of my sons have been cut loose and/or down-sized only to be resurrected many months later in another profession.
In my sordid work experience throughout the years I have been laid off, let go, re-assigned, promoted, demoted, fired, bum-rushed, asked to leave, asked to manage, often-times handed a ham sandwich and a road map, with a, "Don’t call us we'll call you" ... and they never did.
Many people think that it can’t happen to them because the boss likes them and the company needs them. It can and does happen - and now, often times, the boss gets shown the door as well. Be aware! The older you get, the more money you are paid and the stronger the scent of your blood in the water. The company sharks know this. If you were a shark, don’t hate the player, hate the game. And there is consolation when the boss gets the same pink slip at the same time you do. Once you hit the parking lot, corporate etiquette would dictate that it is sporting to give him/her at least a three step lead before you start chasing them.
Getting laid off feels like your self worth has been killed. Your whole identity, lifestyle and ego are drastically changed within one day. Your source of security, purpose and income gets executed. You become needy and dependent - often times filled with guilt and rage. In America, it’s not who you are as much as what do you do.
I have some hard-lived advice for those who get the short end of the economic stick. The first thing you have to realize is that, most of the time, it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. We are in a depression that Obama or your mama cannot fix. Deal with what is real and don’t look back. Laying people off is simply a financial decision and it has nothing to do with you as a person. Getting fired has everything to do with you as a person. That being said I’ve been fired more than an Iraqi assault rifle.
The other thing to realize is that those in the company who are not laid off have to do twice or three times the work at the same pay.
The last thing to actualize is that the company sucks anyway.
Most people are in denial and don’t anticipate job cut backs. They figure the company can work at a loss for a while and the boss doesn’t look worried. Be aware of this: the boss may not be worried because he or she may be stupid.
Always assume that you can be laid off any minute. And always have a "plan B" job to fall back on that can pay quick cash. It's also quite helpful to have a list of ridiculous things your spouse has purchased that can quickly be sold on Craigslist.
Immediately apply for unemployment, even if you expect to be called back.
Be aware of similar companies that can use your abilities, know who is hiring, and consider taking some classes learning another trade should your vocation go into a drought mode. Network on line 24/7. Besides, you have nothing else to do. Make getting a job, your job.
After college I went into Spanish language radio. Once I was blacklisted, I found myself unemployable. I finally took a job selling cars which led to learning the sales trade. Car dealerships have an intensive sales training system and I used my sales ability to land many types of jobs and feed my family until the economy got right again. (Don’t sell insurance. Your friends and family will never forgive you.)
There are a few stages one goes though once handed the pink slip. The first is denial. You are somehow convinced that it is a mistake and they will re-hire you the next day. The first day home is like a day home sick from school. You don’t know what to do with yourself and wait for the phone to ring, for a text, or for an e-mail that never comes. You call work to see who misses you or if anything has changed. Soon they make excuses not to take your call.
The second phase is you humble yourself and start asking your friends who's hiring, then check the various employment websites. Then you start going on some whack interviews. You soon find that there are lousy jobs out there with way too many over qualified candidates and they want to pay peanuts. Sometimes it is better to stay on unemployment rather than taking a minimum wage job.
The third phase is that you get used to being home, interview less frequently and, for many, give up. This is a mistake. Psychologists say that in order to be emotionally healthy, people need two things: security and significance. A job gives one significance. In my down times I have learned to forgo ego and have taken jobs that, before, I would consider beneath my stature. These have been some of the best and most rewarding times in my life. And the people around me were happy to know that I was no longer a legend in my own mind.The life experience of starting over vocationally and knowing that I had to scrape for my money has served to enhance the quality of my life immeasurably. It has given me a confidence I wouldn’t have received any other way.
I tell my sons that I believe that I could be dropped, flat broke, from a helicopter in Kentucky and have a job, an apartment, and a Cadillac within two weeks because now I know how to get money. Getting laid off at various stages in my life most certainly has showed me the way.
I hate to quote clichés, but this faith-based one is most appropriate: Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez is a Contributing Editor to Latino L.A. and Vida de Oro.