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Thread: The unemployed planner support thread

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The unemployed planner support thread

    "Notice is hereby given that the (my employer) Planning Commission is required to reduce staff as a result of lack of funds. Based on service credit with the (my employer) Planning Commission, you have the least service credit of all employees in the classification of Principal Planner and/or Senior Planner."

    I was laid off yesterday. Budget cuts. There's supposedly a political reason behind the cuts to the agency which I can't post in this thread; it's not apparently not related to me or my work. This was really unexpected; the cuts were speculated for a while, but about a month ago the PD told me tmy job was secure. "I know you've been nervous about the budget, but I wanted to tell you so you wouldn't worry."

    The PD watched like a hawk while I packed my office. I had no access to the computer to download my portfolio of completed plans, so I have only limited records of the several comp plans I wrote during my tenure. Since they're public record, I asked that they be sent to me immediately.

    Two weeks severance and health insurance; that's it. I didn't sign anything. Unemployment insurance pays one-half of my salary.

    There are NO planning jobs in the Cleveland area now. None. A couple of ED positions for which I'm not really qualified, but otherwise nothing. Few local governments in the Cleveland area have planning agencies, and there's only a few private firms.

    The housing market in the Cleveland area is dead. I'm upside-down in my mortgage, and live in an inner-ring suburb that was hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. In other words, I can't sell my house. If I can sell it, it would probably be a short sale.

    My wonderful girlfriend is in grad school. She absolutely, positively cannot leave the area until she graduates next year. If I get move too far from Cleveland, my relationship will be doomed. She's sticking with me through this, though.

    I'm not posting this because I'm seeking the sympathy of other Cyburbians; please don't turn this thread into a pity party. I would imagine that with the worsening economy, more planners will be cut from their jobs as elected officials look to cut back on "nonessential" functions. I'm just wondering if others have been in this situation before, and what they've done to cope. Also, I'd like to hear from planners who are facing the possibility of layoffs.

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    I find that times of unemployment are conducive to taking stock of one's life and implementing meaningful inner-changes that somehow escape us when when we are so preoccupied with the 9-5 sound and fury signifying nothing. It's one of those rare times when we permit ourselves to be philosophical about things and look at the Big Picture.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  3. #3
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I've never been laid off from a planning job. Been laid off from serive sector jobs that, frankly, I didn't care for anyway, so the loss of a paycheck was the only thing missed.

    I've gotten sacked too.

    Getting laid off is a concern. Even planners with seniority still has that possibility back in their mind, I guess.

    Good luck.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Those extra hours: job hunting, more fixing up the house, working on Cyburbia, walking, and reading. I got up today at 7:00 AM; I'm trying to keep a normal circadian cycle. I'm bracing myself emotionally for the Kubler-Ross stages.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    I'm so sorry, Dan. You're right, the state of the job market for people in the land use/planning/real estate arena is pretty scary right now.

    Also, I'd like to hear from planners who are facing ther possibility of layoffs.
    Layoffs are a good possibility within my organization (we've already lost one employee), but the actual likelihood changes day to day. Sometimes it's hard to really tell what's going on. We appear to be doing better than our competitors, though. It's pretty tough being 8 months out of grad school and constantly concerned about job security. I think lots of us in the private sector who aren't at the top of the organization are basically going to dangle precariously for the next year. Or more. Many of my landscape architecture friends have been laid off already. LA seems to have been hit first, and planning is next.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    holy sh*t. i didn't think it could happen to our fearless leader.

    i got laid off from a private sector job (non-planning related) about 5 years ago. it turns out it was a blessing in disguise. i was lucky enough to be able to take some time to reflect on my life and where i wanted to go with it. lucky for me i decided to go to grad school and got my degree in planning. and here i am.

    relationship-wise - while a long distance relationship might not be the most desired type of relationship, if the relationship is meant to be it probably won't kill it. after grad school will your girlfriend be able to relocate?
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    We have been playing the "re org" game for a few weeks here as money gets tighter and tighter. Folks are leaving on their own (the rats are jumping ship big time) but jobs are not being filled so its musical deck chairs.

    Several jurisdictions in the South East are laying off workers or pushing them out quietly. The large developers here are laying off land development folks right and left, as are law firms. Horrid time to job hunt honestly.

    The only solid open jobs for planners are in communities known to to have an extremely dysfunctional City Hall.

    Best of luck Dan and others looking at finding work
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Oh, Dan, I am so sorry to hear that.

    Have you thought about doing some consulting until you find a full-time position?

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    not facing a layoff but looking...

    Well I can't say i'm facing a layoff, but I am looking for my first post-grad school job right now, its tough out there! I even have 2-3 years experience. I have applied for alot of jobs and gotten the most responses from the job postings here on cyburbia! 2 phone interviews and a second face to face interview. I have also PMed members about those postings and they have been so helpful. Thank you to the users who post jobs on here.

    Dan-at least you aren't in Florida, the whole state is laying off planners, public and private!

  10. #10
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Have you thought about doing some consulting until you find a full-time position?
    How do I get started? Where do I do it? How do they get their first jobs, without having much of a name or reputation? One of the private firms in Cleveland (PM me if you want to know who) has a near-monopoly on development review and planning retainer services to suburbs without planning departments -- in this area, that means most of them -- and they're not hiring. (Gotta' send them a resume, anyhow. I have to make contact, no matter how futile the attempt may be, to keep collecting unemployment.)

    beach_bum: I was in Florida several years ago, as the sole planner for a small, historic community outside of Orlando. I was swamped, and left because I was burnt out.

    The people I worked with in that small town, though, really seemed to care; I still keep in touch with them. With my last employer, I got a curt matter-of-fact layoff letter; no "thanks for your service", no followup calls or emails to wonder how I was doing later that day, nothing. It just seemed odd.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Waiting to hear back from a second interview for a public sector job. Chicagoland has so many local governments, so there are still places hiring. Although, there have been layoffs at several homebuilders (Neumann, Pulte, Kimball Hill, etc.). Several of the growing communities are focusing on commercial and public uses for construction, although budgets are VERY tight.

    My current job working for a design firm has always paid lower than average for planners, landscape architects, ecologists, etc. I spoke with a co-worker a couple of weeks ago and there has never been a time when the firm laid off people (knock on wood). She said the principals have been known to take salary cuts or forego bonuses at the end of year to make ends meet, rather than loose a worker.

    I am the only planner in the firm and my utilization has varied from 25-120%. Most of the work yo-yo's around here: I might not have much to do for weeks at a stretch and then get bombarded with a 5 hard deadlines on top of each other. I also do all of the "dirty" work by myself (plan review for 10 different communities), so the firm would be up a creek if they laid me off and then had 10 reviews come in the next day, on top of the other work in the office.

    I want to work for a larger firm after grad school. I am "hoping" that wearing two hats as a planner/LA will make me more immune to layoffs, but again there is never any guarantee. I guess I just have to work my way up to top of the company where I have an ownership stake.

    Good luck with whatever you do, Dan.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 01 May 2008 at 1:09 PM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Dang, Dan, sorry to hear that. I know how you feel. I was laid off back in 2001. It really does suck. Situation was similar, no mech engineering jobs in SC. I hope you have money saved up, because from your indications, it might be a wile before something comes along. Sorry. No way to sugar coat that.

    Sign up immediately for the unemployment and commit yourself to at least an hour of job search a day, even if over the internet. Since you are a professional, the unemployment office will probably accept submission of email resumes and online applications as a job search. keep records, because you have to turn in a list of where you applied.

    If you are truly interested in consulting, pick up a book called Consulting for Dummies. It is a pretty good road map of what you want to do, should you decide to go that route. You mayt require professional licensing, yadda, yadda, but read the book.

    Don't get depressed. Commit to at least one accomplishment around the house a day, even if it is cleaning the ceiling fans. It keeps you busy and you can point to progress being made.

    Any questions, feel free to ask.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Good luck and prayers to you Dan. I've been in the lay-off boat before when my wife was 5 months pregnant with our second. We luckily sold our house quickly (barely breaking even) and I found a job just as my unemployment ran out.

    I just jumped ship from a jurisdication with budget issues. I've landed where the budget situation is better, but not pristine. I feel comfortabley safe here, but noticed that the job postings in this area have all but dissapeared.

  14. #14
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Never been in the situation myself, but did get to watch my dad go through it. My dad is a very proud person, and took it pretty hard. After being really down for about two weeks, he adopted the Worley approach and picked a task each day to accomplish and began the job hunt. He also started looking at different professions and thought about chasing some of his dreams from when he was younger, though he decided those should just stay hobbies.

    He worked for a consulting company for about a year, then found another bank to work for. He ended up better for it--his position now is a repeat of a position he had about 12 years ago when he said he was most happy at work.

    A buddy of mine went into planning consulting in an area where one company had a monopoly. He took several of their clients simply by charging $85/hr for public sector clients rather than their rate of $105. There's no shame in cold-calling some of those cities. He similarly undercut them by about $25/hr on entitlement/processing work for private sector clients.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Dan, that sucks...but on the other hand...others have already posted comments about spare time and other blessings in disguise.

    (How much notice was provided?)

    Have you filed for unemployment? (Not much documentation needed here in the mitten.)

    Everyone else, who knows someone who knows someone in the greater Cleveland area who might need a private consultant planner? Of all people to get laid off....

    ETA: just found a couple listings of consulting firms in Cleveland proper.
    http://planning.org/consultantsearch...x=0&CSform.y=0
    Feel free to perform your own search in adjacent communities...
    Last edited by Veloise; 01 May 2008 at 1:39 PM.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I've been fortunate enough to have never been laid off. The worst it got was out in California where, for about 3 months, our hours were reduced to 36 hours a week. I went through that twice.

    Here in Florida, it seems the private consultant planners are getting hit harder than the public sector. We just finished our budget for next fiscal year and nobody in my division faces a lay off.

    Sorry I can't offer any advice.
    Habitual Offender

  17. #17
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I was let go from my first post-undergrad planning job. However, I was still in grad school and my first daughter had just been born. It was nice having lots of time for grad school, in between spending lots of time with my daughter.

    I would definitely exert lots of energy into something other than the job search. If I hadn't still been in grad school I think I would've went nuts.

    Dan - Is there a possibility you could shack up with your GF and try to rent your place out. At least enough rent to pay the monthly mortgage. This may help the financial situation out somewhat.

    Based on your description of the Cleveland job market, it sounds like you need to have a very serious discussion with your GF regarding your future and how she fits into it.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    The City of Atlanta started laying folks off today - they are eliminating 441 filled and 347 vacant positions across all city departments (except police), so I imagine some of their planning staff will be among those let go.
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

  19. #19
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    Dan - Is there a possibility you could shack up with your GF and try to rent your place out. At least enough rent to pay the monthly mortgage. This may help the financial situation out somewhat.
    It's not possible right now. PM me for details.

    Based on your description of the Cleveland job market, it sounds like you need to have a very serious discussion with your GF regarding your future and how she fits into it.
    We're already talking about it. It doesn't look good if I have to move more than a five hour or so drive away. She doesn't want a long distance relationship, period.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    ...We're already talking about it. It doesn't look good if I have to move more than a five hour or so drive away. She doesn't want a long distance relationship, period.
    FIVE HOURS?? Sheesh, that gets you to gorgeous GR, or well into PA, NY, WV...

    I've broken trail with the local site acquisition vendor already sent to you via e-mail. (Told them to please be nice if/when you contact them.)

    How about taking in a lodger? Rent out a room in your house. Inconvenient, but would help with expenses.

    (And your tale of woe and intrigue has inspired me to send out two envelopes today...big ol' flat ones.)

  21. #21
          Joe Iliff's avatar
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    Dan, I can totally sympathize with your situation. I too was the victim of a layoff a few weeks back, and am still looking for my next position. Don't want to move so I can stay close to my son and girlfriend. Hang in there. There may be an opportunity out there just waiting for you.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Bubba View post
    The City of Atlanta started laying folks off today - they are eliminating 441 filled and 347 vacant positions across all city departments (except police), so I imagine some of their planning staff will be among those let go.
    Article Link: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/met...ge_tab_newstab

  23. #23
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Joe Iliff View post
    Dan, I can totally sympathize with your situation. I too was the victim of a layoff a few weeks back, and am still looking for my next position. Don't want to move so I can stay close to my son and girlfriend. Hang in there. There may be an opportunity out there just waiting for you.
    Joe, are you having any luck finding another job?

    Veloise: tried site acquisition. I'm good at the zoning part, of course, but at the real estate end, negotiating lease terms and whatnot ... nope. I'd consider GR, though; I was impressed with the city, and really like the area.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Salmissra's avatar
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    Dan,

    OMG was my first reaction.

    I've never been laid off, but I was fired several years ago from a planning position, and at the time I was extremely angry. The timing, at first, seemed real bad - just before Christmas. However, a couple of days later my sister found out she was going to need surgery, so I went to help her out for 2 weeks. When I got back, I got a retail job, working full time, while I tried to figure out if the reason I was unhappy was the type of job - planning - or the place I had been working.
    I ended up working two jobs - one full time, one part time - just to be able to pay the rent, make car payments, and eat ramen noodles. That lasted about 8 months total before I moved to Houston and got a planning job. Turns out it was the place, not the job, that made me unhappy.

    Where I am right now is in a budget crunch. It's not a crisis situation yet, but open positions are not being filled. We're losing somebody at the end of the month, someone else retired, and both will not be replaced. My boss thinks that next year will be bloody, but that we've cut enough for now. However, I am the newest outside hire, so I have a big target on my back right now. Bossman says he really wants to get rid of the non-working person first, but he does not have the final say - it's the department director. I haven't told my hubby yet about the budget issues. He would freak.

    Being laid off/fired is not the end of the world, but it sure does feel like it for a while. I agree with the others that taking time each day to do tasks, job hunt, and do some soul searching will help you in the long run. Maybe you could work somewhere outside of the planning field for a little while, just to keep some $$$ flowing, and also volunteer. You'll keep busy, and maybe network with the right person.

    Good luck staying upbeat. It'll be tough, but you have several people to lean on here, and we'll all be pulling for you.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  25. #25
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Planning.org has a job in Youngstown. The MPO in Toledo is not hiring. You might want to check with SSnyder in Sandusky and see if he knows of anything in the Sandusky/Port Clinton area. You might be stuck driving for a while.

    Dan,

    I know what you're feeling. I've had lots of those worries myself regarding what would happen if I need to bug out as the economy here in Detroit is probably worse than it is in N Ohio. I have both a cottage and home I could not sell or leave on vacant too long as they would no doubt both be vandalized.

    I will keep my eyes open on the western side of Lake Erie for you; at least that is only about an hour+ drive to work should something become available.

    I watch the financial market, and have seen some positive movement over the last week. I am starting to feel a little more secure than I was. Hopefully we are pulling out from the bottom.

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