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August 24, 2001
HR Not Immune to Layoffs
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August 24, 2001

In the Boston area, at least, HR people are receiving pink slips as well as handing them out.

The Boston Globe reports there are no hard HR layoff numbers for the past year, but employment specialists tell the newspaper that they're undoubtedly high.

"As a result of corporate downsizing or 'right-sizing,' the average length of service with a company for human resources people is four or five years,'' said Clark Willmott, founder and president of Lexington-based Willmott & Associates, a human resources consulting firm.

Personnel employees who have been let go "are like anyone else having to rebuild a career," added Brendan King, principal of King & Bishop, a Waltham, Mass., human resources consulting firm.

King & Bishop, like Willmott & Associates, hosts networking sessions for personnel managers who are out of work. These people frequently bring to the table years of experience that may be instructive to many other job seekers.

Several professionals who have participated in networking sessions at King & Bishop spoke to the Globe last week about their own job search. Their advice spans a spectrum from determining what you'd really enjoy doing in your next job to seeking out newspaper articles about companies that are hiring managers or coming out with new products.

Age is a concern for many middle-aged job seekers. But that can be overcome by demonstrating enthusiasm for and knowledge about a company, according to the job seekers interviewed by the Globe, most of whom were in their late 40s or early 50s.

If all corporate doors appear to be closed for full-time work, then there's always the possibility of contract work, since many companies are outsourcing functions, these individuals noted.

Charles Anderson of Northborough has just been hired as head of the permanent placement division of Willmott & Associates. "I looked hard at what I'd really enjoy doing - recruiting HR professionals," said Anderson, adding that he has had four careers since 1968. His previous jobs were with of Framingham and of Boston.

Another lesson learned over the years, he told the Globe, is that "if you talk to lots of people, you can go after the jobs that aren't advertised."

The safety-in-numbers approach to finding work is a strategy favored by Chuck Campbell of Holliston and Felicity Beech of West Newbury.

"Since being laid off in June, I've sent 2,000 e-mails and made 750 telephone calls" concerning job openings, said Campbell, who had been human resources vice president for Intrinsix Corp., a Westborough engineering services firm. And the return rate so far is 35 percent, "which I think is pretty good," he said.

Job hunters' "biggest fear," Campbell said, "is picking up the phone. But calling someone about an open position first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon" can pay off.

To view the Boston Globe article, click here.
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