Brown Tuesday - Be Scared And Prepared

 There is a very common phenomena that is quickly approaching which nobody writes about and even fewer will admit it exists. Much like a Facebook request from that really scary and often un-bathed kid we remember from the 10th grade who reminds us of the Bride Of Chucky on caffeine, we try to ignore it but you know it's there. You see it in the faces of your co-workers as they wear this macabre face mask of "everything is ok, we are at peace" which you don't by for a second. When whispers feel like voices from the jungle in LOST and closed doors you suspect hold the last cast of Resident Evil (in 3-D of course). You know something is wrong and you feel it coming. You feel it every year at this time...that something tends to happen during this time of year and if you are unemployed there is an accompanying dread. Well your gut is speaking to you correctly and it's not post Halloween sugar crash. It is coming and it all starts on Brown Tuesday.

Brown Tuesday this year will be November 23rd. That is the date when two really bad things begin to happen. The first affects the employed. The second  affects the unemployed. This particular Brown Tuesday will presage a very difficult time for both because the date is not when things happen to you, it's when things start to happen...and they continue until the end of the year.

For the employed, Brown Tuesday is the beginning of the heartless Q4 correction cycle for companies who need to clear their books of excess and prepare for a lean 2011. This means quiet but often substantial layoffs of personnel right after Thanksgiving through the first two weeks of December. So as not to ruin your Christmas (try to follow this logic) companies try to have you lose your job by the 12th of December so you have time to "get over it" enough to enjoy the holidays. The company takes the finance ial charge for the severance packages, drop expenses, and their books look shiny for January. You on the other hand probably have spent money on gifts you would not have purchased had you known that you would spend the rest of December at home suffering from the other effect of Brown Tuesday - when the jobs die.

Brown Tuesday is effectively the last chance to get through the hiring process and find a job until mid January. Jobs that are open and active tend to be put (either officially or unofficially) on hold because of the logistical nightmare in recruiting, interviewing, and starting a new person through the holidays. Even the most well intentioned company, who may be telling every candidate that they want someone to start right after New Year, cannot fight the demonic forces against them. Holiday vacations, scheduling changes, company activities and parties all become roadblocks to getting you into and through the system. The ability to have you phone interview with three people, visit the facility and interview with another slate of interviewers, get all the signatures necessary to make you an offer and have your desk or workstation ready for you to start simply won't happen. So companies put things on hold. You will notice that interviews will be cancelled and rescheduled. If you would have to travel to interview you are doubly cursed because the costs involved are prohibitive and even then too often you will find that half of the people you were scheduled to interview with are out of town.  To further complicate things the people you do talk to are already mentally checked out as they look forward to any bright spot on the horizon, be it vacation, parties, or a great excuse to hit on the boss's wife at the holiday gathering. (it happens more than you would think)

So when you combine the two, layoffs and a delay in hiring, it makes for a difficult time, especially for unemployed persons who have been looking for a while. Occasionally companies sweeten the severance to carry people through this but don't count on this because with a lack of understanding of what the corporate and personal tax rules are going to be, I would expect that companies would rather deal with the guilt of your suffering than spent a bit more to help you through the holidays. This time is particularly cruel for the person who is actively in the process for a specific job only to see it dry up and be faced with another six weeks of waiting for things to pick up again.

How long is this employment winter? Until mid-January. Don't be fooled by promises of a start date right after new year's. No one wants to deal with on boarding a new hire right after a holiday. The start of Q1 is always crazy and people need to get settled into the job before they want to deal with you. Its nothing personal, but no matter how crucial you are, the energy that is required to get you started is just not there yet. The same goes for job searches, interviews and hiring. It takes time to get ramped up in order to be ready for you.

So consider yourself warned and be prepared. If you are employed hopefully you have always had a survival plan in place just in case you got the axe. You should extend that plan to include zero activity until  at least January 15th. If you are unemployed now is the time to see if you can get some holiday work to help with the bills. Don't be proud, take a minimum wage job, shovel snow, sell cookies...whatever you can do to keep you active and involved. Don't be ashamed when people offer to help in fact everyone should be helping each other in these difficult times.

You now know what Brown Tuesday is. You now know it will start November 23rd and will last until at least mid January.   Prepare for the next wave of hiring. If there is any good news to be had, I am seeing some trends that indicate that hiring may pick up in January and maybe even significant enough to start pulling us out of this slump. November is the bellwether, we will know more in a few weeks. If you have more questions, you know where to find me.


 Copyright © 2010 Mike Baumgartner | HR | Consulting | Coach |  Human Resources | Search - CEO, Worklife Survival Center LLC