Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Paycheck, New Plans


It's raining pink slips. The newspapers are full of stories of people losing their jobs -- at least newspapers that haven't yet gone out of business themselves. Just last week we read about mass layoffs at Caterpillar and Boeing, not to mention various hospitals, charities and school districts around the country. Job fairs are mobbed. I passed a FedEx Office location last week that was advertising "Free Résumé Printing Day."

All of which makes Martha I. Finney's "Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss" a timely offering. A catalog of advice culled from career coaches, employment lawyers and social-networkers, the book is a guide as much for how to handle getting laid off as for how to find another job.

"Rebound" is timely in another way as well. The category killer in the get-a-job bookshelf -- "What Color Is Your Parachute?" -- could stand to be retired. First published 39 years and 10 million copies ago, the book keeps coming out in annual editions. But with its clumsy charts and checklists, its hokey visualization devices and hollow platitudes -- "Job-hunting is not a science; it is an art" -- it feels less like a book than the rummage of a community-college guidance counselor. And dusty rummage at that. You can get a sense of the vintage of "What Color Is Your Parachute?" from the fact that it is illustrated here and there with Ziggy cartoons. You can get a sense of its sloppiness from the fact that, in the 2009 edition of "Parachute," the same Ziggy cartoon runs on page 41 and page 167, without anyone at publisher Ten Speed Press seeming to notice. For that matter, the same Peanuts cartoon appears on page 129 and page 282.

By contrast, "Rebound" is uncluttered, cartoon-free, direct and mercifully brief. The first half of the book is devoted to the process of getting laid off -- with an emphasis on disciplined, dignified behavior and savvy self-protection. Throwing a tantrum is out. Not only can it get you an unwelcome reputation as a hothead, it could lose you what little you can hope to take away in benefits. Ms. Finney quotes employment lawyer Alan Sklover saying that "I've known circumstances where loud voices have been termed workplace violence. Then they have good reason to terminate you, without a severance package."

Read the rest of the article - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123776443317708869.html

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