Economic downturn can provide opportunities to apply
By Robert Mims
The nation’s economy is reeling. Layoffs are soaring.
Unemployment — projected to possibly top 10 percent of the workforce
before the current recession bottoms out — has increasingly hit
industries and professions previously considered safe.
Despite billions of promised taxpayer dollars in rescue
funding, the Big Three automakers staggered into 2009 with millions of jobs
hanging in the balance at General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and associated
industries. When Circuit City, the country’s second-largest electronics outlet,
collapsed in January after 50 years in business, 40,000 employees lost their
livelihoods. Many other businesses, small and large, are in danger of following
Add to those troubled industries such traditional long-term
employment venues as residential construction, travel agencies, auto
dealerships and even publishing — with one newspaper after another going
under or making deep staffing cuts — and it becomes clear that millions
of Americans face the prospect of dramatic, even traumatic changes in their
chosen career paths.
“When you go through a deep recession like this one, it
exposes weaknesses in the economy that weren’t evident before,” says Richard
Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for
Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. But he cautions against becoming too hopeless
in response to generalized, dire job scenarios that could be presented too
universally in their scope.
When it comes to finding more economically resilient jobs,
it depends largely on where you live, Bolles told Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.
For instance, while schoolteachers and health-care workers have been among the
few professions not at risk, it still is a matter of checking out specific job
markets to gauge if there are openings. But there’s more to it than trying to
figure out which regions and industries are hiring.
“The best thing anyone can do is to find out their own
strengths and God-given talents — which ones they are good at, which ones
turn them on,” says Bolles.
Identifying the sort of work you find to be enjoyable
— more than trying to find “recession-safe” jobs — ultimately will
bring both employment and personal satisfaction, Bolles says.
“The person who loves what he or she is doing has the
enthusiasm and will beat out other job candidates just looking for a safer job
— hands down,” he argues. “And the employer deciding between two workers,
which one to let go, will never let the enthusiastic employee get away.”
Bolles also recommends those looking for new employment join
or form a network of like-minded job hunters.
But it is equally important not to dismiss the emotional and
spiritual toll exacted when the recessionary monster strikes, says Lynette
Ross, a licensed marriage and family therapist and Assemblies of God member in
the Sacramento, Calif., area.
“Jobs provide a sense of security with health coverage,
benefits, retirement and, for some, a sense of family and community,” Ross
says. “It can be devastating for some to go through a job transition. Initial
reactions can range in intensity and may include physical, emotional, spiritual
and behavioral aspects.”
As worry descends on someone who has just learned his or her
job of decades is gone, sleeping and eating habits can suffer, blood pressure
can rise, and stomach and other health problems may develop. Panic attacks may
come, along with depression and a deep sense of grieving that rivals the loss
of a loved one.
But Ross says such times also are ripe with potential
spiritual growth as a crisis point meets an opportunity for faith building.
“Some may feel abandoned by God,” warns Ross, an ordained AG
minister. “These feelings are normal. The greater the need, the greater the
opportunity for God to move in our life.”
Ross says a positive attitude can shield a person from
depression and help speed the transition process. And she offers practical
advice: Share thoughts and feelings with supportive friends, eat healthy, drink
enough water, exercise and get sufficient rest.
“Your body will help you feel better emotionally, recover
from the stress easier, and you’ll be able to think more clearly,” she says.
More specifically, Ross advises, job seekers should break
down goals into manageable bites, including:
• The family budget should be reviewed with an eye to
determining how long severance pay, unemployment benefits and/or savings will
• While looking
for permanent employment, consider retraining or temporary work opportunities.
• Dream big by considering changes to do the sort of work
you have always really wanted to do.
• Sharpen that résumé and consider what you have liked and
disliked about past employment in order to guide your search for new work.
• Network with friends in careers that interest you and
don’t forget to put out the word with people at your church, realizing that
word-of-mouth almost always beats want ads for finding new employment
Seeking professional Christian help in rebounding from the
trauma of unemployment may be useful.
“The best way for Christians to rebound is to live in
accordance with the progression through trial that Paul talks about in Romans
3:3-5,” says licensed professional counselor Brian Frizzell, founder of the
Springfield, Mo.-based Christian Counseling Services. “In going through a
trial, we should persevere; in other words, don’t give up. We discover what we
really need in difficult times, and we can develop into what God wants us to
become in hardship.”
To the recently laid off, Frizzell advises answering the
question, “What do I love to do?” Passion, Frizzell contends, always makes way
for making a living.
“When we love what we do, we can get by with a lot less,”
Frizzell says. “We also have the potential to make a whole lot more because our
work doesn’t burden us.”
Other questions to ask as you search for a new career,
according to Frizzell, include “Whom do I love to be with?” “What am I best
at?” and “What can I make better?”
leads to hope, opening the way to God’s provision and guidance, he says.
“Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, but expected results
based on a life aligned with God’s principles,” Frizzell says. “If we live by
the premises, we can experience the promises.”
ROBERT MIMS is a journalist and member of Life Church of
Utah, an Assemblies of God congregation in Salt Lake City.
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