Monday, November 2, 2009

Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss

Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss
My Review
Comprehensive yet concise, without being wordy or rambling. Short, readable chapters. However, not all advice is relevant to everyone, everywhere.

Reading, or even flipping through a book that talks about how to cope and recover after a layoff, especially in this economy, could seem like a grotesque death-wish. But if you have not read a book about such a topic when the times were good, this may well be a good time after all to read one. This book is short enough for you to read it in one sitting in less than a couple of hours, and you finish it just before the morbidness of the topic starts to get you down.

What's good about the book is that it is full of practical advice. No grand theories of how companies' bad strategies can drive them to layoffs. But short, well-written chapters that cover a single topic. Which is why the book, despite being only 200 odd pages thick, has 26 chapters and an appendix. Many chapters are only a thousand words or so. Which is fine, because it helps you cover each topic in fifteen minutes or less.

The six parts that the book is divided into are:
(i) The Inner Game of Getting Laid Off, (ii) Preparing for a Layoff, (iii) Know Your Rights, (iv) When You've Been Laid Off, (v) Landing Your Next Job, and (vi) Appendixes. Each chapter ends with three bullet points, "The best thing you can do", "The worst thing you could do", and "The first thing you should do." Appendix A is a compendium of all the "best" advice bullets in the book, collected together in one place for the reader's benefit.

Know this that the book contains a lot of very obvious suggestions, so do not expect any earth-shattering nuggets of wisdom. Stay calm if laid off, do not say something you may have to regret or apologize for later, do not carry bitterness or anger for too long from a layoff, be positive, don't blame yourself, and so on... Some of the best advice is centered around financial planning, to cut back on spending and to conserve cash as much as you can, covered mainly in Chapter 13, and talks about such areas as Food, Insurance, and Telecommunications. Other good advice is centered around using social networking sites like, called "Job Search 2.0 ... and it is a much more robust way to build your career than just relying on the more traditional ways of printing out your resumés and networking", to bolster your connectedness and job search.
On the topic of using the online world to your advantage, another useful tip is to "be Googlable". "Start building out your Web site with professional events calendars, book reviews, commentaries on professional developments, white papers. Start a blog. (Blogs are free.) Make it smart and original. Maybe even make it a little controversial. Start a conversational bonfire (just a little one, and nothing actionable against your former employer, for instance) and invite your readers to get in on the action. Be nervy enough to ask some especially prickly questions in your profession and stand back to watch the comments fly. Weigh in on other peoples' blogs as much as you can." is all very good advice, but how actionable it is, and how much time people are willing to spend on it, while they are employed, is a moot point. Some of the brightest people I know wouldn't show up on the first or second pages of a Google search, which is as good as saying they are invisible to the rest of the world.

Chapter 15, "The Kids Can Handle the Truth", while it may be a tribute to the movie "A Few Good Men", is important enough for parents to read, and emphasizes the virtue of honesty. Not easy, but important for you and for your children. It's not about your ego, it's about their well-being. "The less you tell them, the more they will come up with their own explanations." "...If you lie to your children, telling them everything is fine, you're teaching them to grow up not trusting their intuition..."

Some of the advice is not easily transferrable to international locations such as India, especially when the author talks about legal options, or about insurance, which can be ruinously expensive in the US.

The verbal imagery, if you call it that, is vivid. A job loss is compared to a car wreck, to the anxiety about your job after a layoff to the urge to scratch a severed limb. Yes. Phantom itches.

Some excerpts from the book:
"Getting laid off is more than just a career crisis. It touches every aspect of your life--your finances, certainly, your health, your emotional health, your relationships, your legal considerations, your future, your identity and self-esteem, even the future of your children and their ability to aspire to a happy life." [Preface]

"Some readers will criticize this collection because each person's story ends on an up note. I chose these people on purpose. This book is not intended to be a "balanced exposé" on how horrible the economy is." [Preface]

"Or you were in the middle of a really great project that you loved. What's going to happen to that? That was your baby. Who's going to take care of it now? And shouldn't you have some input into who it gets handed off to? Uh. No. You no longer work there, remember? That project may or may not achieve its full potential. But no one is paying you to care about it anymore. In fact, with whatever severance payment you might have received, you're actually being paid not to care about it anymore. So you can just forget it. Right now." [Chapter 1]

Publisher's Book Page

Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss

© 2009, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.