Finding work in a down economy

B.J. Gallagher's "Ten Tips for Tough Times"

  1. Start with the basics of self-care. If your body is not in good shape, everything else will be harder for you.

  2. Go where the love is. Spend lots of time with the people who love you - friends, family, neighbors, people who make you feel good.

  3. Tap into spiritual resources. Meditate, pray, find a spiritual community that nourishes you, read spiritual books, spend time with spiritual teachers and guides whom you trust.

  4. Be selective about the media you take in - movies, newspapers, TV, blogs, web sites, talk shows, etc. There is an enormous amount of fear, anxiety, violence, paranoia, and gossip out there on the airwaves, the internet, and in print media. You don't want to be taking all that negative stuff into your mind.

  5. Focus on what you DO want, not on what you DON'T want. Likewise, focus on what you CAN do to help yourself, not on what you CAN'T do.

  6. Learn to practice divergent thinking, in place of convergent thinking. (Divergent thinking means that there are many possible solutions for your problem. Convergent thinking means that there is only one right answer.)

  7. No one can do it for you, but you can't do it by yourself. Find groups to join where you can get help and support finding new, creative ideas for how to make money, change careers, live happy. Brainstorming groups, women's groups, support groups, 12-step groups, professional associations, etc. Two heads really are better than one .... and 20 heads are even better!

  8. "A problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it," Einstein said. Explore different ways to change your consciousness - groups, therapists, workshops, physical activity, and more.

  9. Take time to reassess your values every so often. We often spend years living our lives according to the values we inherited from our parents and teachers. It's good to take time out to take stock and see if you really believe in those values, or you want to adopt some new ones.

  10. Practice "active appreciation" all day long. When you're out walking your dog, look for the positive. Make your own good news!
B.J.'s advice on what to consider when looking for work in this economy:

Why the recession affecting women differently from men: The good news is that women are losing their jobs at a lesser rate than men, so unemployment is affecting fewer women in proportion to men. The bad news is that woman are having to shoulder more of the burden of supporting their families when their husbands lose their job. And as men are having a hard time finding new work, their unemployment goes on for longer periods of time, taking its toll of men's mental health and their families' well-being. Domestic violence rises as men struggle with depression and frustration; drinking and drug abuse among men are also likely to rise. Joblessness takes a terrible toll on men, and often their women become a convenient target for venting their anger. So there's both an upside and a downside to the fact that women are doing better at holding onto their jobs in this recession.

There a silver lining to this recession with some unexpected blessings in these hard times: Many people have reported that the recession has had some surprisingly positive effects of their lives. For instance, it has brought family members closer together, as they've been forced to rely on each other more than ever. Other people say that these hard times have made them re-think and re-evaluate their previous lifestyles and what they thought was important in life. Some folks say that "losing everything" has made them realize that they really DIDN'T love everything - they only lost stuff. They still have their families, their friends, their health, their spirituality, and much more. Bottom line: Many people discovered that the best things in life aren't things.

What the term "jobless recovery" means for people who are out of work and seeking employment: It means that we must re-think the whole notion of being self-supporting. BJ suggests that people give the whole idea of a "job" and instead, focus on "working" and "earning." A job implies a regular 9 to 5 gig, and those are scarcer than hen's teeth. But there is still plenty of work that needs to be done - it's just going to be done on a project basis, by freelancers, much in the way that construction work has always been done, or movies have been made. A bunch of people come together to work on a project, and when it's over, everyone moves on to their next project.

Even in good times, people over 40 have a harder time finding employment: Here's some advice: There are the usual things, like not putting more than the last 15 years work experience on your resume; dye your hair to cover the grey; go to the gym regularly and keep fit so you look younger; and suggestions like that. In addition, B.J. suggests that middle aged individuals consider taking on volunteer work, which sometimes provides a backdoor to paid work within a non-profit organization. She also suggests looking at jobs you did when you were younger and consider doing them again. For instance, when she was in college and grad school, she worked as a waitress and bartender. If things ever got really tough for me, she figured she could always go wait tables or sling drinks. Nice to have some backup skills in case you're up against a wall and need the money.

New skills that people should be developing in themselves for the future: Technology skills are the most obvious. Technology is the future and the better your repertoire of tech skills, the more valuable you are to prospective employers. Other skills she recommends developing are: project management, supervising and coaching others, organizing skills, and above all - the ability to deal with change.

The single biggest mistake B.J sees people make in this recession: Letting themselves get paralyzed by fear. They read the bad news in the paper every day; they watch the negative stories on TV news reports; they commiserate with their neighbors about "ain't it awful" and they totally let fear take over.


Book Signing & Appearance
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About B.J. Gallagher:
B.J. Gallagher is a sociologist, author and speaker. She writes business books that educate and empower, women's books that enlighten and entertain, gift books that inspire and inform, and kids' books that charm and delight. Whether her audience is corporate executives, working women, or a group of giggling youngsters, her message is powerful, positive, and practical. She motivates and teaches with empathy, understanding, and more than a little humor. BJ's international best-seller, A Peacock in the Land of Penguins (Berrett-Koehler; third edition 2001), has sold over 320,000 copies in 22 languages. Her two new books are: It's Never Too Late to Be What You Might Have Been (Viva Editions; 2009) and Why Don't I Do the Things I Know Are Good For Me? (Berkley; 2009).

B.J. is a regular "Huffington Post" contributor. She has been featured on CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer, the Today Show with Matt Lauer, Fox News, PBS, CNN, and other television and radio programs. She is quoted almost weekly in various newspapers, women's magazines, and websites, including: O the Oprah magazine, Redbook, Woman's World, Ladies Home Journal, First for Women, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Orlando Sentinel, Financial Times (U.K.), Guardian (U.K.),, ,,, among others.

In addition to writing books, B.J. also conducts seminars and delivers keynotes at conferences and professional meetings across the country. Her corporate clients include: IBM, Chevron, US Veteran's Administration, John Deere Credit Canada, Volkswagen, Farm Credit Services of America, Raytheon, US Department of Interior, Phoenix Newspapers Inc., the American Press Institute, Infiniti, Nissan, Atlanta Journal Constitution, among others.

B.J. is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Southern California, earning summa cum laude honors with her BA in Sociology. She has completed the coursework for a PhD in Social Ethics, also at USC.

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