The Bright Side of the Recession: Sue Morem Brings a Positive Outlook to Our Economic Crisis

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Sue Morem

The economic crisis has affected businesses and individuals on a grand scale. Every day more bad news or information on how to recover from the economic recession is released. But what is rarely heard are the positive aspects of the current state of the economy.
ldquo;Many people will tell you that being laid off ended up being the best thing that happened to them," said Sue Morem, founder of Premier Presentation, Inc. "It often is the ‘kick in the pants’ we need to get us moving in a new direction." Morem shares with Human Resources IQ how to find the bright side of the recession.

Your latest book is How to Get a Job and Keep It, which was released in March 2007. When I now look at the title, I think about the major obstacles individuals who have been laid off are going through finding and retaining a job right now. How do your basic concepts still apply to the economic recession?

Much of my advice and the concepts I talk about are truly timeless. There always is competition for jobs, and we all need to do what we can to give ourselves a competitive advantage, regardless of the economic crisis. When the economy is strong and [there are] jobs aplenty people are more relaxed—and often more lax in the effort they exert both on the job and in preparing themselves for what’s next. The biggest difference in today’s economy is that more people are looking for work and the fear factor/panic mode is higher. While most of what we hear about is how many people are losing their jobs, there are still jobs out there—and new opportunities for those who seek them.

In light of this economic recession what should job candidates do differently in their job searches to help them re-enter the workforce?

The first thing we all need to do is accept that as a result of this economic crisis the business environment has changed—and this is a tough one for those who choose to live in denial or believe they are exempt from being laid off. Accepting the possibility that you could be laid off and getting prepared for what you would do if you are laid off is a good first step. However, this is very different from giving up or feeling hopeless about your future.

Living in and preparing for an uncertain future often requires a big shift in attitude. Instead of relying on others to take care of us (our company, boss, spouse, etc.) we need to rely on ourselves. We benefit when we think more like entrepreneurs or the self employed; when this shift in attitude occurs, getting through each day and looking toward an uncertain future is a little easier and can also be very liberating—and fun!

The concepts I write and talk about are tried and true—and proven to be effective, economic recession or not. We may not be able to control what happens to us in this economic recession, but we have full control over how we respond to what happens.

How can people avoid being laid off? How can they leverage their positions within the workforce during this economic recession?

In some situations there may be no avoiding being laid off. In others, when difficult decisions are to be made, your perceived value as an employee can make all the difference. If you’ve never been a team-player, resisted change or have a reputation of being a difficult employee, the decision to let you go is easy. However, if even during the economic recession you remain steady, avoid gossip and fear and continue to add value (even if it’s just through your positive attitude), you’ve got a better chance of sticking around. Who you are as an employee is the key to your survival—in keeping a job and getting a job in today’s workforce. The stronger your work relationships and professional reputation, the better off you are. But you need to be working at this constantly. A sudden surge of brown-nosing or deep concern for others in time of an economic recession won’t cut it!

A big mistake people make when being laid off is imminent is that they give up and no longer care about their fellow workforce or the company they work for. They may physically be present, but emotionally not. Decisions are being made about who will be laid off and who will stay—give yourself a chance by being your best every single day—especially your last day. Always leave any organization with your work relationships and professional reputation intact. You never know where your coworkers will end up; some of them may be connections to future opportunities for you.

A lot of your work is based on how to enter the workforce and excel throughout a career. However, given the economic recession, many professionals are scared that if they get laid off, re-entering the workforce is going to pose some major challenges. What advice can you give laid off workers who are trying to reinvent themselves during the recession?

Opportunity awaits you. While business as we have known it has changed, opportunities are surfacing. The secret is to view being laid off as an opportunity, rather than as the worst thing that could happen. Most people are shocked and upset when they are laid off, yet over time, once the healing and new chapter of their lives has begun, many people will tell you that being laid off ended up being the best thing that happened to them. It often is the "kick in the pants" we need to get us moving in a new direction. This is a time to grow: develop new skills, try something new, diversify. You are not alone—we’re all in this together. There has been a shift in mentality—reach out to, and connect with, others. Know that you can and will survive—and be better off for what you have gone through.

In your own experience and professional knowledge, how can people best prepare for their professional future?

By being proactive. Don’t wait for the dreaded news to make change—start preparing for change today. Get out of panic mode and into action mode. Take care of yourself rather than expecting others to take care of you. Ask yourself, "What if I am laid off—what will I do?" Expect unexpected change and be ready to deal with whatever comes your way. And most importantly, adapt the attitude and belief that you will handle whatever happens and be better off for having the experience. When we stop viewing change as threatening and view it as an exciting opportunity for renewal and growth, the future doesn’t seem so scary anymore, and we are prepared for whatever happens—even an economic recession!