With high layoff numbers, many employees are fearful of what the new year will bring. Seventy-four percent of workers, according to a Vault.com survey that questioned 436 employees, say their companies have eliminated positions and 58 percent of respondents predict more cuts will be coming soon.

Sixty percent of employees say their companies gave no warnings that jobs would be cut. A day’s notice probably couldn’t be considered much warning. Despite the layoffs and the economic downturn, 56 percent of respondents think that their managers have treated them and their co-workers reasonably. “I now understand that ‘it’s business not personal,’” according to one respondent. “Like a good divorce, we go on with our lives.”
Most surveyors believe their companies could have done more to keep the positions. Sixty-four percent of employees say they would have taken a pay cut; however, only 19 percent were offered the choice of a decrease in pay. And 60 percent of workers would have considered a voluntary buyout, but 67 percent never had the choice. If given the option in what areas to save money, respondents say cut bonuses and perks, eliminate holiday parties/social events, reduce marketing or decrease training and development costs.

Even those in higher positions with increased salaries should not be kept safe from the layoff process. On the other hand, some employees remain optimistic when it comes to finding a job in the slow market. One in four workers believe they will be able to locate a new position during a one-to-three-month period, according to the results from Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.’s job search advice call-in. And 31 percent feel their job search will most likely be about four to seven months. “We assumed callers would be a lot gloomier,” says CEO John A. Challenger. “Last year, before the downturn really gained momentum, twenty-three percent of callers guessed it would take over a year to find a new position. We did not see that level of pessimism this year. Instead, our counselors heard a lot of uncertainty, evidenced by the fact that twenty-five percent of callers said they were not sure how long it would take to find a job. Some of this uncertainty is due to the fact that no one seems to know how far the economy will sink before it rebounds.”

Of those who called for job advice, the majority of unemployed workers were from the financial sector, which had at least 260,000 job cuts in 2008. Other industries with high unemployed callers included retail, health care, government/nonprofit and technology. Of those callers who were employed, the top industries included financial, health care, technology, industrial goods and legal.

If beneficial in finding a job at a faster rate, 23 percent of surveyors say they would consider going back to school, while 29 percent might relocate.
Even if it seems fewer companies are hiring, there are still jobs available. Job-seekers need to continue looking and networking to come across these openings. “The fact is that even in bad times, companies still hire,” says Challenger. “There is constant churn in this economy and employers regularly need to replace workers who leave for other opportunities, retire or simply did not work out in the position.”

The key for a jobseeker in this economy is to expose as many opportunities as possible through networking. Job-seekers can also increase their chances for success by casting a wider net and expanding their skill set to make themselves more marketable to different industries and occupations. According to the Vault survey, workers are either looking for a safer position, getting a second job, going back to school or eliminating vacation time to try to stay on track during the recession.

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