Recently we talked about how companies mouth the words, People are our most important asset!, while feeding  assets into the hamburger grinder. Your comments have made me more aware of articles on related topics, and I’d like to share a couple of good ones. One will make you grind a fist even harder into your palm, and the other will make you take stock of the supplies you’ve laid into your career bomb shelter.

Over at Networkworld, a guy who’s recently been through the grinder — Ron Nutter — shares 20 Ways to Survive A Layoff. I like the article’s fresh-out-of-the-trench smell. Nutter doesn’t pull punches, and he sticks to what matters. There’s no career-expert drivel here. Nutter shows that getting fired is a state of mind — not the end of your life.

Computerworld‘s Mary K. Pratt delivers Five Ways to Drive Your Best Workers Out the Door (as if you couldn’t give her 20 more), and — like Nutter — nails the bigger point in her article’s subtitle: Employees don’t quit the job; they quit you.

The problem of corporate productivity is lost behind corporate PR about “our people.” The solution to being out of work is hidden by news stories about the pain of unemployment. Whether they’re employed in smelly corporate trenches or busy climbing back up out of the smelly trench of unemployment, people in America stand up to downsizing and they move on because Yankee ingenuity kicks in and reveals we’re all built to survive.

If only employers could find and harness that talent for survival and put it to profitable use rather than stupidly drive people away, only to watch them re-surface working for a competitor, we could all get on with driving our economy a little bit faster and a lot more smartly.

It’s the people, Stupid. Whether you dump them, lose them, or ignore them — they clean themselves off, find the next place to plant their foot, survive, and thrive. They are the seeds of new businesses, new companies, and new innovations.

Sorry to sound like a rah-rah American, but my money is on the individual with a brain, an aspiration, a hunger, and a need to pay the bills and feed the family. Keep dumping on them, but they’ll come back every time. Meet your competition, Stupid.

  1. Cut back on food, collect unemployment insurance, and spend more time on job sites like Dice and Monster? These pearls of “wisdom” are among Nutter’s 20 Ways to Survive a Layoff.

    Others include “updating your resume” to include plenty of key words that amuse the HR folks and their scanning software. But of course, one should keep in mind that the HR departments to be courted “move at their own pace.”

    I’m not surprised to see this advice in yet another article. But I am surprised to read Nick’s praise for it: “No career-expert drivel here.” Really? A “fresh out-of-the-trench smell?”

    Smells like something very different to me.

    Hanging out on job boards, tarting up a resume with key words, and collecting pizza coupons apparently worked for Nutter. Good for him, and great for others that this may help.

    But far more of my friends have succeeded with Nick’s strategy instead: Find great companies, solve real problems, and become part of real professional communities.

    I’ll bet on that over job boards and pizza coupons every time.

  2. Michael,

    Yah, well, nothing is quite like Ask The Headhunter :-) and thanks for the compliment, but Nutter hits on some very good suggestions. (Okay, the bit about the job boards is out of a career book. I stand corrected. But note that Nutter quickly dispenses with Monster and Dice.)

    I think his gems include taking notes while being laid off (good for legal backup), taking time off (yah, the books advise this, but few people do it), and dealing with finances and getting a handle on how to survive as long as possible. (Job hunting often results in desperately ignoring the rest of one’s life.)

    Buried in his comments about recruiters is an important caution that is usally glossed over by the experts: avoid multiple recruiters.

    Don’t wait for the phone to ring and get out of the house — everyone needs a kick to actually DO that. So, okay, Nutter’s stuff ain’t perfect. But it’s nice to see advice and tips from someone who’s just been through it, rather than from a freelance writer whose last story was about how to slim down.