Job-Hunting Post-September 11

The job market has shifted drastically since the terrorist attacks, so find the sector that's hiring.

In the wake of the September 11 attack on U.S. soil, some 300,000 of us lost our jobs. Many of us lost our jobs without warning. One minute we were happily employed; the next minute, we were out of work, as--in some cases--our whole industry virtually imploded.



Today, we find ourselves hunting for work in a world that has been changed forever. We hunt for work now in the terrorists' world. Terrorists are people with jobs, jobs that produce a product. The product is terror. Their chosen vocation is to export that product to countries whose people or governments they either fear or hate.

Specifically they export terror by causing people to fear common things that used to seem harmless: air, water, envelopes, buildings, airplanes, cars, subways, foreign places, all manner of public gatherings at home, and the like.

On September 11th, they did their chosen job well, and these things became symbols of fear and isolation for so many of us. On the other hand, we as a people, immediately fought back by seizing upon other things and making them symbols of hope and community: things like flags, candles, the word "hero," blood, donations, faith, "God bless the U.S.A." etc.

One result of the terrorists' work, is it changed the map of job-hunting vis-à-vis industries. Whenever events like September 11th occur, they cause the equivalent of an earthquake in the job-market. Whole industries go on "life-support" and are not fruitful places to look for the job-hunter. But at the same time, whole industries come off "life support" and flourish. If, in the wake of September 11th, your industry went on life-support, do not beat yourself up by restricting your job-search to just finding a job in your old industry. It may not be there.

Instead, notice what other industries are flourishing. If you are out of work, you would do well to pay huge attention to which stocks are flourishing, and which are languishing. That often is a clue as to who is hiring. You also do well to pay attention to the newspapers and the news on TV, radio, or the Internet, and to notice which products or services are suddenly feeling a groundswell of demand. They also offer clues as to who is likely hiring.

Go to the job-posting sites on the Internet, not just to look for particular jobs, but--as a part of your research--to notice which industries are now appearing on the job-boards again and again.

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All of this presumes you know a simple fact: that you have basic skills, like advising, budgeting, developing, illustrating, auditing, coordinating, diagnosing, fixing, lecturing, driving, negotiating, painting, planning, recruiting, selling, singing, typing, trouble-shooting, writing, etc., that are transferable from one industry to another. If this concept of transferable skills, is unfamiliar to you, then run not walk to get your hands on a copy of my book, "What Color Is Your Parachute?" (In the 2002 edition, this material is explained on pages 159 - 175.) Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. This concept is your key to transferring from one industry to another--from the industry that downsized to an industry that is expanding. For your job-hunt in this new world, you will need to pay attention to your emotions. Since September 11th emotions such as fear, depression, insomnia, anxiety, grief, despair, listlessness, decreased energy, and feelings of estrangement from one's loved ones, have multiplied to a worrisome level. If you do not have a health-care professional to assist you with such emotions, there are many websites that can help you with useful perspectives and helpful advice; just type one of those words, e.g., "listlessness," into your favorite search engine (like Google's super-powered engine, iLOR, and see what it turns up.

If you are a person of faith, now is the time to take those "Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes" out of the mothballs, and put them on. God has dealt with terrorists for over 4,000 years. Find a church and pastor, rabbi, or Muslim cleric who knows that, and preaches radiant joy.

Above all else, if you are faced with the job-hunt, and you have a partner or friend, before you go out job-hunting first sit down, get to know them all over again, share, show curiosity in what they are thinking, hug them at great length, prize them. On September 11th, over 6,000 people lost that privilege. You still have it. Treasure it.

Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Richard Nelson Bolles
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