Laid Off? Here’s What’s Next.

It occurred to me that broadcasters today have more in common with movie actors than ever before.

You tell stories, you emote, you create characters, and you dramatize.

You also frequently experience long periods between jobs.

Look up your favorite actors on IMDB and note the gaps between films. Broadcasters in 2017 are sort of like that.

In May 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there will be 5800 fewer radio announcer positions in coming years, and a widely published report listed “radio deejay” as one of the worst jobs in America.

Just as that was announced, there was another of the US radio industry’s semi-regular round of talent layoffs with Cumulus declaring bankruptcy with over $1 billon in debt and iHeart Media creditors moving them in the same direction.

The old saying in radio is that if you have not been fired, you will be. I heard that in 1982 when I began. Still true, just more so.

After you have been escorted from the building by HR, and after you have applied for unemployment, signed up for health care, called your lawyer to assure that the company honors your contract, cut expenses, polished up the resume and filled your job networking calendar…

…what do you do next?

Here are the seven pieces of advice that helped me deal with unemployment:

Think long-term. Not to be a downer, but we know of million-dollar talent terminated in 2015 who are still on the beach. Hope to find a job this week, but plan as if your search might go to 2018, or beyond.

Take a short-term job. Many actors hone side-gig skills because they need them so often. Today’s broadcasters should also have a “plan B.” If you don’t have a marketable side skill, now is the time to get one.

Set big goals, make plans – and write them down. One Harvard study demonstrated that a group of students who wrote down their dreams and made concrete plans made ten times as much as the students who did not.

Maintain your physical and mental health. You may be inclined to skip doctor visits. Do not. Keep your creative instrument (your mind, body and soul) ready to perform at a moment’s notice. Seek counseling for depression (common after job loss), limit your alcohol intake, get good sleep and exercise – you will feel better and look fitter for the next job interview.

Explore! When I was fired for the first time in my life in 2008, I tried stand-up comedy, improvisational theatre, video editing and website design… and I failed at every single one. But I had fun and got great stories out if it. I use the lessons that I learned almost daily.

Do the things you have wanted to do but have not had time. Your 90 year-old-self would like to yell to your current self from the future, “Time is more valuable than money!” Your future self wants you to know that you can visit that old flame, take the kids camping for a week, do some baking, or visit all the fun local landmarks that only tourists visit.

Volunteer. It gets you out of the house. It looks good on a resume. You learn something new. You make new contacts. And numerous studies prove that helping others gives you back ten fold in psychological and spiritual well being.