Friday, September 18, 2009

Singing the Layoff Blues: How I Keep My Head In the Game

Margaret Agius, CP has submitted today's guest article. I have known Margaret for years through our work with the Paralegal/Legal Assistant Section of the State Bar of Michigan.

During the time she has been without a job, I have tried to offer ideas and support. I have been impressed with her fortitude and the style with which she handled not only the job search, but the rejections as well. She has done her best to be innovative and to keep busy.
Knowing that many paralegals are having the same experience, I asked her to write about her journey. I did not ask her to credit me but I'm glad she did. As always, I'm ready to help in any way I can.

It does seem that the economy may be improving. Hopefully this will translate to hiring opportunities for paralegals. Meanwhile, take some lessons from Margaret's efforts to 'keep her head in the game.

Singing the Layoff Blues: How I keep My Head in the Game

Margaret Agius, CP

I was laid off from my paralegal position on December 1, 2008, after almost 10 years with the firm. By my calculations, for every six résumés I send, I score only one interview. So far, none of the interviews have resulted in a job offer. I was losing my edge, among other things.

There HAD to be something I could do to “think outside the box” of merely sending résumés and hoping for the best.I turned to our Paralegal Mentor for advice. Vicki highly recommended social networking. I’ve met new paralegal friends and reconnected with old ones using LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and created a VisualCV. To date, I have 72 LinkedIn connections, belong to 20 groups and received four recommendations. I have 63 Twitter followers and 15 Facebook friends. I won’t win any contests for the most followers or friends, but I’ve always valued quality over quantity.

“Strategies for Paralegals Seeking Excellence” was one of my few remaining regularly scheduled paralegal activities. I joined a number of “Paralegal Mentor Mastermind Calls,” and contributed when I could. I took two of Vicki’s teleclasses, “Let’s Get Ethical...Let’s Get Technical” and “A Blueprint for Your Job Search in the Digital Age.” Both were excellent. I attended my state paralegal association spring networking reception and seminar. I was starting to get back in the groove.

Then in late May, the job postings and interviews really dried up. I was watching the Today Show on June 11, on which a representative from gave advice to unemployed viewers on how to stand out in the competitive job market. One viewer was looking for a job in journalism. The representative told her that was looking for freelance writers around the country to contribute regular articles on a wide variety of subjects. Communications degree, years of writing for paralegal publications and time on my hands…twist my arm!
I applied to be the Detroit Legal News Examiner that day. I was accepted on June 15, and posted my first four articles on June 16. It’s independent contractor work and does not provide a regular salary, but it sure as heck gives me something to help plug the ever growing gap in my résumé--and keep my brain cells active.

I threw myself more heavily into my frugal hobbies of coupons, rebates, rewards programs, and survey programs. I then created a website to share my tips with the world. I christened FrugalParalegal on June 13, 2009. Here are a few of my blog entries:
7 Tips for Printing Coupons at Home [ Jun 14, 2009, 5:30 PM ]
7 Rewards Programs That Pay [ Jun 16, 2009, 9:22 AM ]
3 Survey Programs That Pay [ Jun 17, 2009, 9:56 AM ]
Paralegals--Fun and Learning in Las Vegas [ Aug 11, 2009, 2:45 PM ]

Feel free to visit, browse, and join in on the fun and savings!Now that summer is winding down and the kids are back in school, it's my fervent hope that the job postings and interviews pick up again. In the meantime, watch for me on, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and FrugalParalegal.


Wheel of Justice Advice for Career Seekers said...

This is a great motivator for the unemployed.

Paralegal Mentor said...

Lana...Thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, Margaret's article has great tips for surviving and perhaps thriving during a layoff. She has so many terrific skills that I know she'll find something full time soon. Vicki