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Thread: The unemployed planner support thread

  1. #76
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    Today I find myself joining the ranks of the newly fired, recently resigned, and lately laid-off urban planners in the great state of Georgia. And although I was busy running around in the past few months trying to find new work (due to the impending fear of termination in my current...now former..position), I'm certain to be extremely focused on finding new work while competing with my former colleagues for the few slots that are available. All I can say is good luck to whoever finds work and no hard feelings if you're the one who beat me out for the position.

  2. #77
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    In a metropolitan region of three million plus people like Cleveland, with so many local governments, how can there not be at least ONE vacant planning position available?

    There's some architecture and planning firms with "send us your resume"-type solicitations on their Web sites, but when I send off a resume, cover letter and CD-ROM portfolio, I feel that they seem to make their way to the trash; not even a "thank you for your interest" letter. Senior economic development positions pop up every few weeks, none of which I feel qualified for. Nothing for traditional land use/current planning/comprehensive planing/transportation planning.

    I haven't heard so much as a "Hey, are you doing okay?" from anyone at my former place of employment. At every other place I've worked, after I moved on to another job, if I was contacted and asked "Hey Dan, what do you know about X?", I helped them out. Not this time. My former employer doesn't deserve that courtesy.

    Right now, I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of rejection, and I'm struggling to keep depression at bay. Nobody wants to hire me, nobody wants to advertise on Cyburbia, no inquiries into my well-being from my former employer, no nothing.

  3. #78
    Cyburbian
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    I wish I had some optimism for you. I've been looking for a mid-level planning job in the SW corner of the state for the past year. There have been about three openings. And maybe about four more for entry-level positions. And about the same number of economic development positions. The consulting firms haven't been hiring much, and if they are it is for an architect/planner or a landscape architect/planner or an engineer/planner. I'm starting to think being a "trailing spouse" and a planner may not very compatible, especially not in this region at this time...I'm starting to push for relocation soon...

    Hope you have better luck than me...

  4. #79
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    In a metropolitan region of three million plus people like Cleveland, with so many local governments, how can there not be at least ONE vacant planning position available?
    ...Right now, I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of rejection, and I'm struggling to keep depression at bay. Nobody wants to hire me, nobody wants to advertise on Cyburbia, no inquiries into my well-being from my former employer, no nothing.
    If/when you hear from that local branch of the consulting firm, let me know, and I'll supply answers to the essay test.

    [sent off an app to be a ZA today...]

  5. #80
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    The District has joined the ranks of the unemployed. That is all.

  6. #81
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Wow, sorry to hear that dude. What happened?
    No Signature Required

  7. #82
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Ugh, I'm sorry. That's really sh!tty news. What exactly happened?

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    In a metropolitan region of three million plus people like Cleveland, with so many local governments, how can there not be at least ONE vacant planning position available?

    There's some architecture and planning firms with "send us your resume"-type solicitations on their Web sites, but when I send off a resume, cover letter and CD-ROM portfolio, I feel that they seem to make their way to the trash; not even a "thank you for your interest" letter. Senior economic development positions pop up every few weeks, none of which I feel qualified for. Nothing for traditional land use/current planning/comprehensive planing/transportation planning.

    I haven't heard so much as a "Hey, are you doing okay?" from anyone at my former place of employment. At every other place I've worked, after I moved on to another job, if I was contacted and asked "Hey Dan, what do you know about X?", I helped them out. Not this time. My former employer doesn't deserve that courtesy.

    Right now, I'm feeling an overwhelming sense of rejection, and I'm struggling to keep depression at bay. Nobody wants to hire me, nobody wants to advertise on Cyburbia, no inquiries into my well-being from my former employer, no nothing.

    Crikey, when I spotted this site I didn't realise that I'd become such a big fan this quickly - and I definitely didn't think I'd find myself discussing my recent redundancy. But here I am, nonetheless...and I just had to reply to your post because I know exactly how you're feeling Dan. It's an awful thing to happen and I know all about those horrible dark, cloudy times when you start to slip into the 'oh my god, what the hell just happened to my life?' stages of redundancy induced misery.

    I'm not a planner and I didn't work in the public sector - I was a land agent/development site assembly/site finding person (best way I can descibe it I'm afraid!) for a small private sector company - but the credit crunch kicked hell out of us and our whole team was shipped out. Every single one of us. Devastated isn't the word. To cut a long and seriously miserable story short, I had wanted to try doing the land manager/buyer thing for a developer but needless to say, the companies who have managed to survive thus far certainly aren't recruiting never mind looking to top up their land banks! So after about 6/7 weeks of feeling completely lost I thought sod it and decided to try starting up on my own and I'm in the process of doing that now. A wee admin type job with a friend's company keeps me in toast and coffee and I'm terrified but also a bit excited. Some days I totally slump and wonder what the hell I'm doing...or wonder how I'll feel when falls on its arse...but that's what happens when life kicks you in the teeth when you least expect it.

    So...anyway...my point (I'm getting there!) concerns these ideas you mentioned having...whatever they are...why not just give it a bash and see what happens? Way I see it, I'll hopefully never be in this position again so I should give it a go while I've got the chance...if it doesn't work, so be it. But hopefully by that point the world will have righted itself again and we'll all be planning/developing our bahookies off.

  9. #84
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    Wow, sorry to hear that dude. What happened?
    The company was/is having some serious cash flow issues. The number of full-time staff was cut in half (and it probably won't stop there). Not surprising, really. The writing has been on the wall since January, at which point I started offering my services elsewhere. The ride was fun, and we/I did some really great projects, but it's time to move on. Good luck everybody!

    Some may notice that this post seems oddly upbeat/optimistic/or something. The reason? I finished cycling through the 4 (or 5? I'm not a psychologist) stages of grief many months ago, and have been on the last step (acceptance) for quite a while. It has made the transition pretty comfortable.

  10. #85
    My boss was let go not too long ago. It was all political, not to mention that certain good ole boys from the development community don't like a woman telling them what to do. It's amazing how far threats and whining like a child can get you.
    Last edited by bobcatplanner; 24 Jun 2008 at 2:50 PM.

  11. #86
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I've been told that I'm a fairly smart person. Still, I don't have the mental capacity to complete some of these job applications, especially the ones that want you to provide details about EVERY JOB YOU HAVE EVER HAD FOR 15 OR 20 YEARS. Seriously, why do they care? I mean, even if I can remember the dates and places, I can't remember supervisors, phone numbers, salaries and whatnot of supermarkets, pizzerias, two-weeks-this-sucks-I'm-outtahere jobs when I was in college, and other trivial gigs from the time before New York State would allow me to legally consume alcohol.

    Advice to those starting off in their careers: while you're young, and you can still remember it, write down all the details about every place you've ever worked; exact employment dates, supervisors, phone numbers, starting and ending salaries, everything for every place.

    Also, the very invasive questions: no. I leave 'em blank. It's none of your business what my Social Security number is, at least until you hire me. I don't care if it's voluntary, but I'm not going to tell you my race. No.

  12. #87
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bobcatplanner View post
    My boss was let go not too long ago. It was all political, not to mention that certain good ole boys from the development community don't like a woman telling them what to do. It's amazing how far threats and whining like a child can get you.
    that's pretty scary...

  13. #88
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Right now, I don't know whether to scream or cry.

    I'm going on three months of unemployment, with only one interview, and no callback from them. No rejection letters from anyone. I'm now starting to have problems making unemployment claims; they wouldn't accept mine for the last week, and I've got to call a human tomorrow. I'm going to be up all night worrying about this.

    I'm pouring through EVERY municipal web site in the region, and while most communities have economic development agencies, few have planning departments. Nobody is hiring. There's very few private planning firms, and they don't seem to be hiring eithher.

    I can't stray far from the Cleveland area, because I have a house I can't sell (A house three doors down from mine is on the market for $37,000; the one next to me is listed for $55K. I paid almost three times that for my house). I also have a a girlfriend that absolutely, positively cannot leave the region, end of story, until she gets her masters degree next year. Even then, there's no jobs in Pittsburgh, none in Detroit, none in Buffalo, none anywhere in driving distance of Cleveland, except little rural township zoning administrator jobs that pay $30K tops. Taking one of those would not only be financially ruinous, but it would also set my career back a decade or more.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  14. #89
         
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    Keep on...keeping on

    I’ve been reading all of the responses in the thread at is so apparent that you have an entire community on your side…wanting the absolute best for you. I know that you will end up with a better outcome in life…better than you have ever imagined. In the interim, you are being forced to make some really difficult choices that are not all that different from other hardships such as divorce or loss of a family member.

    Having transitioned through jobs, I suppose that the process forced me to take stock of what was really important in life. When I was laid off, I can remember feeling angry, upset and then sad before reaching a point of acceptance that things were the way they were.

    I eventually hit a point where I knew that the job loss had nothing to do with me or my performance. In reality, I was just one of those “business decisions” to save money for the organisation. This is part of the “Capitalist” mentality where the modern economy hires then releases employees as a “Liquid Asset”. In many government entities, taxpayers now expect that formerly secure government positions be more liquid like their private sector counterparts. As a result, the organisations eventually lose their most qualified people (like YOU) and then come to realise at some point (sometimes years later) that they are unable to attract the best and the brightest people. The private sector is better at retaining the best and brightest but of course, under contract…but at least you know when things are going to end or there is a payout.

    Please just try not to take what has happened to you personally. Adjust accordingly and make your promising future happen.

    Remember-

     The employment office works for you and so don’t feel bad about being assertive in gaining employment. Put the pressure on them to help you get some employment or other benefits to keep your life moving forward by staying afloat. That is what the employment people get paid to do.

     Education is one of those things that will offer great promise and so sticking around for your partner is the right thing to do. You know that once she graduates, things will fall into place.

     Consider taking up other types of jobs to tie you through. Furthermore, consider providing your professional planning experience as a pro bono planner for a neighbourhood group. I found the pro bono work (revitalising an economically challenged neighbourhood in my circumstance) to be one of my most rewarding planning jobs in my life and the amount of support from the everyday people really lifted my spirits. I still have fond memories of that project (very rewarding) and it looks great on my resume because it filled a gap in my employment.

     This is a tough time but it is not the end of your happiness. 1)You have people that care about you, family and friends. 2) You have your health. Some people have everything monetarily but suffer physically. 3) You and only you have the ability to control your outlook…not some third party such as an employer. Sometimes we get into an emotional “rut” and its hard to see any positive aspects. Overcome and conquer the negative. Smile and laugh by trying to find humour in everything. Its hard at first but is attainable. Just know deep within that the tough time is only temporary and that the good stuff is coming. 4) Try not to worry. The house is just a house and if it goes, you will have an opportunity to buy again in the future. If it goes to the bank, the next time you buy, you will be in a better financial situation with your partner’s education and your new job…wherever you decide to live. You might have to pay a little higher interest in the future, but you will be able to write off the interest on your income tax.

    And finally, best wishes from all of your Cyburbian friends!

  15. #90
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    Yep, I hear ya; but this too shall pass

    I just back into cyburbia after a long hiatus, but have taken to reading this forum and can relate a bit.

    Dan - I am not sure what the unemployment rules are in OH, but when I dealt with what you are dealing with the rules in my state simply stated that I had to show I tried to contact 2 or more potential employers. Tip #1 - use the positions you think you arent qualified for as those contacts, and send the resume anyway.

    Tip 2 - No, most places will not send a rejection letter even. While many will consider that rude and lacking professionalism, it is just how many places do business.

    Tip 3 - Apply for those positions that you think will set your career back. If you get one nearby, it is immediate cash flow. Add the position to your resume, and use to show other potential employers that you are trying to sharpen skill sets, etc. Saying I wanted to do that was THE answer that landed me in my current job.

    Tip 4 - I sense that you are an intelligent and wise planner...so put it to use. You mentioned that one firm seems to have a lock on the technical assistance/current planning work for smaller towns. TAKE THEM ON! Find ways to develop an advantage over the other firms in each proposal you chase, or team up with them on it.

    The day I left the last consulting firm I was at, I had 5 marketing leads in my hand, one of which turned into an immediate project and has helped a great deal financially. No, it will not be easy, but if you show the private sector that an upstart planner with guts and a willingness to fight for work and keep a client happy can beat them, they will soon want to get you on their team.

    Also, if there are some services you could do that those firms won't, consider providing them.

    By the way, the project I won was against the firm I just left.

    Tip 5 - Network like never before. Get your name and face out as much as you can.

    Tip 6 - If your old employer is overloaded with work, approach them about doing some on a contract to lighten the load - at an appropriate consultant rate of course.

    Tip 7 - If you can, try the state of federal government.

    More later, sleep calls. I hope this helps, although you may have done some of this already. I would be more than happy to talk more via email.

    This will pass...

  16. #91
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    An opportunity?

    From one of my Sunday papers:

    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a...=2008807130623

    We've got highlights:

    The township outsources its inspections since the building inspector -- a 20-year employee -- and his assistant left for other jobs about a year ago after their hours were drastically cut.... Those positions remain unfilled. ....

    Clinton Township officials passed an ordinance two years ago requiring inspections for all rental properties. That work is keeping inspectors busy... as is commercial development in the Macomb County community.


    Seems like this would present an opportunity to someone who can think outside the box. I am guessing that the situation is similar outside of SE Michigan.

  17. #92
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Dan, maybe you should apply to positions outside of your region. Even if you have no intention of moving, it'll keep the unemployment checks coming. I also like several of rian.harkins suggestions, as far as take a step backward if you must and take on the firm that has the market cornered. You can slightly undercut them and still make a handsome income.

    "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)

  18. #93
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I said this previously in this thread, and I was serious.

    I know it may be a hit to your pride/ego, but it can be a rational, logical decision to just walk away from the house, especialy considering how far the value has fallen. You are basically throwing your money away. However, I say this not knowing how much you've already paid into the house. That amount could make my comments pointless.

  19. #94
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ok....Dan

    A quick search on Monster made me want to cry!! Nothing at all just as you said in the planning field within 75 miles of Cleveland I hate to say it....but it may be time to BRANCH out man:

    Property Manager
    Event Planner
    Legal Assistant

    These are the first three places I would look in your position At least send in an application to keep the unemployment checks coming

    http://jobview.monster.com/GetJob.as...a00&pg=1&seq=1

    http://jobview.monster.com/GetJob.as...a00&pg=1&seq=4

    http://cleveland.careerboard.com/cgi...jobs_quick.cgi

    http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeek...se&IPath=PIKGV
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  20. #95
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I agree with The One - submit resumes to keep your unemployment checks in tact - you might end up in an allied field that could steer you in a new direction?

    then, have a heart to heart with your girlfriend to say you have to start looking beyond commutable distances and that you are looking for her support - what girlfriend would let her boyfriend go into financial ruin and be homeless because she can't (understandably) leave - she should at least say "go find a job where you have to and when I graduate, I'll try to move there" -

  21. #96
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Free-lance planning

    Here are my latest ideas (and I should have the four-wheeler loaded and be traveling to the dulcimer fun-fest in Evart already).

    One of my car-fix places is shown here:

    http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...cl=1&encType=1

    Several times, while waiting on an oil change, the manager du jour has decried their lack of parking and confusing vehicle stacking/storage space. Several times I've sketched up a revision to the plethora of commercial driveways, explained the concept to him, offered to run it through City Hall for them. They hand back my keys, I return to my stoopid office park cell, and...in a few months we repeat this process.

    My fee would of course include the substantial delivery costs of landscaping materials (fly west a couple of blocks to see the preferred supplier).

    And I would write up a press release bragging on their beautification efforts and pedestrian concerns, and what a Wonderful Company they are. (With a big plug to the joint down the street; I would persuade them to donate supplies and landscapers.)

    Dan, there have got to be more than a couple of commercial establishments near you who could benefit from someone with the knowledge and time to handle a site improvement like this.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Idea #2: one of my zoning admin interviews was with a bustling, wealthy Twp where they were raking it in on fines. A commuter area with huge lots, everyone was putting in decks without benefit of permits. (Ask for forgiveness, pay $200.) Manifestly, folks driving 50 miles to their schmancy Big Three jobs were unable to swing by the Twp hall during business hours.

    Dan, there has got to be more than a couple subdivisions near you where folks need help with deck permits and set-backs. You could go street by street and leave contact info in their doors (get you a bike!). And you could add your business card to the bulletin board at Home Depot and Menard's.

    HTH

  22. #97
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Dan, you have a lot more IT / web development skills than most planners. Are there any jobs that could match up with those strengths, even if they're not planning jobs?

  23. #98
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Duh...big red truck!

    Quote Originally posted by Seabishop View post
    Dan, you have a lot more IT / web development skills than most planners. Are there any jobs that could match up with those strengths, even if they're not planning jobs?
    How did the rest of us miss this one??? Seabishop jumps in with a GREAT idea
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  24. #99
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    I have been checking my local mega hospital complex for vacancies for admin assist/clerical jobs. And I saw this job for web content specialists and thought of Dan. Check it out for the content of what they are looking for, Perhaps the Cleveland Clinic has a similar need?

    Job Summary: The roles and responsibilities of this job are focused on producing dynamic electronic content and media elements for all the Spectrum Health web sites. This job supports the ongoing growth and maintenance of all Spectrum Health web sites, both internal and external. This may include any combination of work produced with technologies such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver and PowerPoint. Where necessary, design work will conform to System Identity and Visual Standards.

    This position focuses on maintenance and growth in of the web. Works with teams to implement excellent presentation content using a new web content management and file system. Must also work closely with the SH TIS team.

    Job Requirements: Bachelor degree in journalism or communications. Two to five years experience in a marketing communications or web content position. Additional experience working in IT environment. Health care industry background preferred.

    Demonstrated experience in project management and the ability to prioritize multiple projects at once.

    Other: Excellent ability to transform verbal ideas to highly refined professional presentations for electronic media (web, word, PowerPoint) etc...

  25. #100
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Small code review firms

    Here in Michigan, there are a handful of small companies providing zoning and building inspection services. Based on my interactions with these folks, they could use capable help, the type that can and does dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s.

    Example 1 just arrived. "Please sign and return this BP application." To what address? (Why can't you include your address on the form? Would that make things the least bit easier??)

    Example 2 was last year. A wet-behind-the-ears zoning specialist (at a different code inspection firm) sat there while a Twp board instructed my site acquisition agents to provide landscaping...on someone else's tower. (We're collocating. Someone else owns the tower, and a third party owns the site.) This was an ordinance-reading issue.

    Example 3: for many years there was a one-man shop providing to several of the Twps in northwest Detroit. His MO was revenue generation for his clients, so they loved him, but his interpretation of the ordinances (which were written by him) was fast and loose. (I never had a hearing in front of him, but my counterparts did.)

    To find these places, try looking under "professional" in the phone book; they seem to love that term.

    HTH

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