Life after layoffs_ the job is gone, now what_

Faison Autrey (Photo: HM Photography & Boutique) Faison Autrey started her professional life in the U. S. Army, where she was a military police officer in locations from Virginia to South Korea. But she didn’t want to be in law enforcement her entire career. When she moved home to Shreveport to be closer to family, she embarked on a new path, working at a technical college. She enjoyed coaching students and trying to help them stay in school. But budget cuts led to the elimination of her position — and soul-searching on what she wanted in a job.


FIND IT HERE: More Rouge content Enter: A life change.

Her new role as an administrative assistant with a financial planning firm is “everything I could have asked for and more. A prayer was answered,” she said. “There have been so many opportunities and so many blessings.” Brandi Hernandez chose an oil-and-gas business job in 2009, working her way up to sales by 2012. But with downturns in the industry, she was laid off three times and knew she wanted to make a change. Together with her husband, she decided to buy a boutique in Haughton.

“It’s just been a dream,” she said. “I’m extremely excited.” Lisa Collins (Photo: HM Photography & Boutique) Lisa Collins has worked in the medical field 19 years — but found herself laid off when three area medical centers closed and a physical therapy business was bought out. She took an accounting job in another industry making less money — but was determined to find something in her field. She is delighted with her current job in the billing office of a medical corporation. “I feel like a job is a blessing,” Collins said.

“A job is something I never take lightly.” Each has found a job they love, but they discuss frankly how hard it is to be laid off and the importance of not giving up. They use words such as “shocking,” “a blow” and “devastating” when they discuss the trauma of losing a job. COMMUNITY: Help this critically injured child achieve her dream The women are examples of trends in employment — changing jobs multiple times. Few people stay in one job their entire career. Bureau of Labor statistics vary according to employee age, but adults born in the early 1980s held an average of 6.2 jobs from age 18 through age 26. Younger baby boomers, born in the late 1950s and early 1960s, held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. “We do see lots of job-hopping, and not just in the younger worker,” career expert Sandy Simon of Shreveport said. “It’s a reflection of the instability of our job market. Time was when you could take a job in your twenties and expect to be there until retirement.

Those days are gone.” Simon, an account executive in the local office at AppleOne Employment Services Inc., has worked in career placement for a dozen years and, as one part of her job, helps about 50 laid-off workers a year find work. Career expert Sandy Simon sees many applicants who are frustrated they are not finding the kind of work they want and need. (Photo: HM Photography & Boutique) She finds that layoffs in northwest Louisiana come in waves, bringing stories of shock and anger. “We’ve lost so many jobs in this area …

It started with GM,” she said. “I was blown away when Schumpert closed. Our economy is not robust.” One regional company was recently bought out, for example.

“Each employee got a call at home at 8 p. m.,” Simon said. “They were told to be at the office the next morning and to be prepared to clean out their desk.” A coach, mentor and networker, Simon is a job matchmaker at heart — always on the lookout for the right candidate to fill the right job. She sees many applicants frustrated they are not finding the kind of work they want and need. Their anger after being laid off is “almost palpable,” she said, and is something they must get beyond.

“This anger will not work when you’re looking for a new job,” she said. “You’ve got to leave it in the car when you go out to interview.” Simon urges women to consider their skills. “They’ve forgotten how awesome they are,” she said. “Any time you start to flounder in your job, it’s always best to go back to the beginning, to think about where you started.” When women find a great job, they move beyond the layoff.

“They grow into another person,” she said. Autrey agrees. She connected with her job at Safe Planning with Simon’s help — and wound up in an office in the same building where Simon works. “I absolutely love what I do here.

I can actually see how our company helps people in our community,” Autrey said. One of the things she appreciates most is the training her employer offers. But finding the right job in a new field required recovering from her layoff, which “really was a blow,” she said. “The bottom falls out.” That led her to assess what she wanted from a career.

“Which way do I want to go?” she asked herself. She recommends that women write a list of what they want in a new job and update their resume on a regular basis. “Be open to the idea of having that dream job,” she said. “Never think that it’s the end of the world. There’s always a way out.” She stresses the importance of keeping finances in order, so that you’re not behind on bills should you be laid off. A spiritual woman, Autrey recommends prayer and credits her family with encouraging her. “I didn’t dwell on the fact that I was laid off,” she said.

Hernandez also found being laid off to be devastating. “You get beat down. You go through a depression,” she said. Her family struggled and didn’t buy Christmas gifts until recently. But she and her husband had considered owning their own business for years and decided to buy Sunkist and Sassy, a tanning salon and boutique in Haughton. They opened their business the last day of February.

“If you have the opportunity, follow your dreams,” she said. For women considering starting a business, Hernandez emphasized the importance of research. “Make sure it is something you really want to do,” she said. Her hours have doubled, and she must keep up with finances, focusing on paying off the business loan. But she enjoys customers who visit with her and share their lives. “I love the social part of it,” she said.

And she’s eager to grow the business, which, in addition to its tanning salon, sells clothing and accessories and offers monogramming. Brandi Hernandez (Photo: HM Photography & Boutique) Hernandez encourages women to keep trying. “Don’t get down and don’t give up,” she said. “You’re going to find something better.

” Collins provides another inspiring story of persevering, with a quest to find a job in the medical field, where she had worked for 19 years. A layoff is “shocking,” she said. “It’s stressful. You don’t know what’s going to happen next.” Divorced with two grown sons and two daughters in high school, she said she was dedicated to providing for her children. “When you have children, failure’s not an option,” she said.

“Children are the No. 1 motivators.” She credits her daughters with helping her. “They love their mom,” she said, and do well in school and help at home. “I don’t want them to see a weak woman. You get knocked down, but you get up, brush yourself off and start over … How you handle that is going to determine the outcome.

” Also working with Simon to find work, Collins connected with a job in the billing office of Gastrointestinal Specialists, a position she enjoys and appreciates. While the journey was not easy, she was determined. “It made me a strong woman, and it made me understand that even in the worst situation, there is hope,” she said. Acing the interview: how to land the job you want Finding a job after a layoff requires a strategy and a good resume, according to Sandy Simon, account executive at AppleOne Employment Services Inc. in Shreveport.

(For more information: appleone. com) “Get your resume looking awesome,” she said. “If you haven’t overhauled it in six months, it’s due for a redo. Your resume may get three to five seconds of viewing time by an employer, so it has to jump off the page. It’s worth the effort you put in.” She discourages the use of Times New Roman font, calling it “boring” and prefers Century Gothic. The trend of e-mailing resumes does not work, in Simon’s opinion.

“You’re sitting in your sweats in the kitchen clicking online,” she said. “Think of all the people doing that …Who has time to look through all of those resumes?” Stay focused and make a plan. “If too much time goes by, they exhibit that ‘I’ve given up’ thing,” she said, and the applicant needs to re-instill optimism. “They’ve been at home applying online and not gotten a call back…

” When Simon works with candidates, she helps identify their marketable skills and sees their attitude change. “You can hear it in their voice and see it in their actions. They even sit in the chair a different way.” She suggests a candidate identify 10 to 15 companies where she might like to work and drop off resumes, even if they are not hiring at the moment. “Consider your house the center of the universe” and start from there. Preparing for an interview “Do your homework.

If you are about to interview with the ABC Company, get on their website and do some research,” she said. “Have some questions in mind for your interviewer. Be prepared for the hard questions. Google ‘hard questions in an interview’ and learn how to easily answer them confidently.” Computer skills important “Skills are crucial. If you have finished four years of college, you should have measurable skills,” Simon said. “Not only basics like typing, filing, and data entry, but higher level skills such as all of the Microsoft software, to include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access.

These are used daily in just about any business. If you do not have these, get them. Libraries offer free courses, and there is free training online.” Dressing professionally “Professional appearance may not be a skill, but it’s a critical part of acquiring a job,” she said. “Proper dress is required, such as slacks, a crisp blouse, a sweater. We tell our candidates to cover all of their tattoos and remove any piercings except for earrings.” While dress depends on the job, many area employers tend to be conservative.

She recommends black slacks, a professional shirt and flat shoes for an interview. “Young candidates can wear heels but if they’re too high they can work against you.” Beyond that, “manners never go out of style … firm handshake, eye contact, engaging conversation.” A range of jobs for women Women are in demand in the workforce, she said, including a need for women in “positions of authority.” There’s somewhat of a trend of females being hired for traditionally male positions, such as engineering techs who spend their days outdoors in jeans and work boots. With a dozen years of helping employees and employers connect, Simon keeps track of trends.

Clients continue to prefer women to staff their front desks as the face of the company, she said. “We like to place our most assertive and confident ladies in those spots because they can make the difference for a company.” Simon also sees that the ability of women to balance their lives makes them strong job candidates. “Women can keep their household running efficiently while working eight to nine hours a day. Women carry a heavy load with children, home, extended family, job, friends, church, social life.”

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