The strain of potential lay offs is affecting many in this economy. Fortunately, preparing oneself by getting a resume together, saving money and other actions make it somewhat less scary to face.


    Rob Mehrtens of Camden knew in 2007 that he would lose his job in 2010. So he was surprised when he learned in fall 2008 that he’d be out of a job by the end of the year.

    “That was kind of sprung on us,” he said. “We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know it was going to come that fast.”

    The former Chrysler maintenance worker said his co-workers had been getting their resumes together and starting to look for jobs when the news was broken a year earlier than expected.

    “Nobody was really prepared for it that fast,” he said.

    Many companies are cutting back in the floundering economy, and that sometimes means cutting jobs. With uncertain times looming, sometimes the best thing is to be prepared for the worst.

    Russ Widder, LCSW, is the director for A Center for Human Development in Dover. The clinical social worker said although they may not specifically mention unemployment or job strains, people’s anxiety levels are high right now. He said it could have to do with the economic crisis.

    A lot of people are aware that there might be trouble coming, and instead of facing it they are in denial.

    “It’s almost like we live with a little bit of a myth of safety, that everything is going to be fine, and that the bad things around us happen to other people,” he said. “That’s why when bad things do happen, we’re often in shock.”

    Instead of facing the reality of looming layoffs, people are getting more nervous, subconsciously, and more irritable, so family tension is rising.

    “If it’s not really happening at the moment, we want to be at ease, and our mind will help us do that by moving into denial,” he said. “So the thing to do is to face it, and say, ‘OK, we need to have an action plan.’”

    Widder suggests having a family discussion about the economy, and what the family can do to cut back on spending.

    Often times the breadwinner doesn’t want to have an uncomfortable talk about curtailing the family budget. It could be about pride, or about just not wanting to have to tell their family “no.”

    It’s a smart, proactive move, though.

    Widder just had the talk about saving, not spending, with his family.

    “Communicating during hard times is the best thing one can do,” he said.

    Mehrtens and his family recently discussed their situation. He will start a new job in electrical maintenance, controls and instrumentation with Proctor and Gamble in March. He’s grateful to have a position again, but he and his wife Jennifer, a nurse, have to think about how much longer they’ll be able to stay in their current house. She can’t get full-time hours, and is pregnant with their second child and due in April, so they’re considering all their options.

    Mehrtens advises anyone who suspects a layoff in the future to start looking at sacrificing non-necessities such as second cars.

    “You better start piling up as much money as possible,” he said. “You’re going to have to have an escape route.”

    That could be making a hobby a part-time moneymaker, doing some home improvement work as a side job, or just networking, Mehrtens said.

    He added that brushing up a resume before getting laid off is essential. And if you don’t trust yourself, get a friend or professional to read it over.

    The Kent County Public Library and Dover Public Library are both offering resume help for potential job seekers.

    Kent County’s free class helps attendees create resumes. It requires that those attending have a valid library card, be able to type independently and have an existing email account. They also must bring a flash drive to class to save their work.

    Classes are at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, and 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 18.

    For more information or to pre-register, call 698-6440.

    Dover Public Library’s free class is titled Resume Basics, and is at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 5.

    It lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

    For more information or to pre-register, call 736-7077 or visit the reference desk.

    For those who have already lost their jobs, state groups are working together to help them get back in the workforce.

    “In support of the growing number of displaced workers, DEDO took the lead of bringing the community and state agencies together to explore how we can best support this population,” said Sonia Aguilar, acting director of workforce development for the Delaware Economic Development Office. “As a result, the committee developed ‘Bridge to a New Position.’”

    The program offers three workshop series, the first focusing on overcoming the trauma of job loss and maximizing resources for the job search. The second part hones in on resume writing and understanding the interview process, and the last component is a one-on-one consultation and mock interview.

    Partnering with the Delaware Economic Development Office Center of Workforce Development are the Society of Human Resource Management, Retired and Senior Volunteers, Delaware Workforce Investment Board and Sussex County Division of Libraries.

    For workshop dates and more information on Bridge to a New Position, call 255-9878 or 856-5815.

    Besides preparing oneself for the worst possible outcome, Widder advises people to take care of themselves by getting enough sleep, talking to friends and family and trying to be positive. He also said not to be afraid to see a therapist, if necessary.

     Email Sarika Jagtiani at sarika.jagtiani@doverpost.com