Executive Careers Blog

Tales from a Recession: Executives Innovate To Stay Employed


It’s been over a year of layoffs and recessionary tales. And executives haven’t been left untouched. In fact, this recession, more than ever before, has dealt white collar jobs with more severity than their counterparts.

Heartening tales pour in from our readers at Vault.com every day and some cut to the core with their experiences. However, with all the unemployment figures and “there are no jobs out there” resonating with almost everyone you talk to, there is a new word in the air: innovation.

Yes, innovation in job searching methods, in keeping your skills up to date consistently, innovative networking, innovation in budgeting, you name it, people are trying it. Does this apply to executives too? Yes, more so than is obvious as I came to know when I recently heard from a former boss. She got laid off over a year ago, after the department she ran was dissolved. Her first thought had been to industriously look for a job nationwide. Since she already was a long distance commuter, moving didn’t deter her. A few months into the search though, she realized that her competition was getting the better of her. Her experience was working against her; she wasn’t “affordable” anymore. She is a baby boomer, she was too expensive.

And it didn’t help that she has been in the media industry (read newspaper) for the last 25 years. If no one has been hiring, newspapers especially have halted all recruitment as they figure out how to stay profitable. So, finally a couple of months ago after over a year of denials, she got a part time job.

Here’s, finally my point.

While she has kept up with technological skills and social networking during her search, she draws the line at certain things.

But call it desperation or innovation, the following came to my email not so long ago:

“Good morning my Patient Friends...

Those of you who know me will be shocked to find a chain letter in your mail from me...since you also know that I never send or participate in chain letters...of any kind.

But the Recipe Exchange email that I just sent out is an exception and here's why: I need a FT job.

And this email comes from my new boss...and I want a FT job from her.

And if this helps me get that job, then I figure that it is worth involving all of you super patient folks in my scheme.

It is entirely up to you...and you alone...as to whether you want to participate.

Nothing bad...or good...will happen to you if you participate...or not. I sent the email to you purely for selfish motives.

So you are ALL off the hook in this ...I merely want a FT job and if this helps me get it...mission accomplished.

Now you all know me for the conniving wench that I really am...but seriously, it's a desperate job market...and a desperate economy.

And you all know how the saying goes: Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Thank you...and remember, don't send me any recipes...or chain letters, please. Even this one!”

This is an executive who earned well into the six figures and commanded a department of editors. While this tale isn’t meant to be inspirational, it serves a purpose of reminding us all: You got to do what you got to do to bring that paycheck home. Whether that is networking outside your industry or exploring how your skills can be useful in entrepreneurial settings. Or starting all over again, small.

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Aman Singh is an Editor with Vault and works with Fortune 500 companies on reporting their diversity recruitment strategies and initiatives.

Comments?  Send them to executivecareers@cnbc.com