MARIETTA - Losing a job can be stressful enough, even if a person knows it's coming.
But several dozen workers at a pair of Washington County businesses that closed their doors last week apparently had little or no advance warning.
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles' deputy registrar office in Belpre was slated for closure in June but the doors shut for good last week after the woman holding the contract resigned. She and five other people worked in the office.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Washington-Morgan Community Action employment and training specialist Becky Caldwell, right, assists a job seeker with a resume Wednesday at the Community Action office on Putnam Street in Marietta.
That same day, Ryan's Steakhouse on Pike Street in Marietta shut down, catching customers off guard and resulting in the reported loss of between 35 and 50 jobs. Two days earlier, parent company Buffets Inc. had announced a restructuring that included the closure of 81 "under-performing" restaurants.
Attempts to contact affected workers were unsuccessful Wednesday.
The One-Stop Job Center at Washington-Morgan Community Action's office on Putnam Street in Marietta offers free resources to assist those seeking jobs. But Kathy Lott-Gramkow, director of employment and training for Community Action, said they haven't been approached by many of the workers affected by the recent closures and they've been unable to work with the shuttered employers.
"Looking for a job is a full-time job and we don't want people to get to the end of their unemployment and wonder, 'Oh no, what am I going to do next?'" she said.
The One-Stop office can help people apply for unemployment, which Lott-Gramkow recommends doing even if an employer said the individual wouldn't be eligible.
"They could still be eligible, maybe not from that job but maybe combined with another job," she said. "That's something that the state determines."
The One-Stop also offers assistance with resumes, the state job-matching system and continuing education, as well as access to phones, fax machines and the Internet for use in the job search.
By gathering more information about the recent job losses, the office could apply for a special grant from the state for Rapid Response funds to provide more assistance, Lott-Gramkow said. People can contact the office at 373-3745.
Lott-Gramkow said people who have lost their jobs should gather as much information as they can, including check stubs and training certificates. She noted many government programs require income data and that might be hard to come by if an employer has shut down. She recommends keeping at least six months' worth of payment documents on file.
"If they still have access to any of that kind of stuff (online through their employer), they may want to go online and print that off," Lott-Gramkow said.
The Washington County Department of Job and Family Services offers a number of services for people who might find themselves without a job, including food assistance, Medicaid coverage and even limited cash assistance if a person isn't eligible for unemployment. Executive director Tom Ballengee recommended people in need go to the office's website, www.wcdjfs.org, which provides a listing of those services and allows them to plug in their financial information to see if they are eligible for some of the programs.
The department keeps in regular contact with area employers, Ballengee said.
"We try to match an individual, with their background, to a job," he said.
Washington State Community College offers an employment search program called Network Alliance once a quarter. The latest round starts today, from 10 a.m. to noon in Room B201 in the college's main building.
There will be seven weekly sessions that people can join at any time. Topics will include resumes and cover letters, interview techniques and social networking, as well as mock interviews.
More information about the free program is available by contacting Karen Peters with student services at 374-8716, ext. 1880.
Beyond the practical considerations of losing a job and looking for a new one are the psychological and emotional impacts.
Brent Phipps, a licensed social worker and CEO of L&P Services in Marietta, said "adjustment disorder" is a mental health diagnosis that can result from difficulty dealing with a major change, such as the loss of a job. It can manifest with symptoms of depression, anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, he said.
"So many people, their identity of who they are is tied with what they do for a living," he said.
The impact of a job loss can vary by individual, Phipps said. Having more involvement with family or community may help lessen the blow.
"I think it's a matter of your culture and your belief system and your value system and how you look at life in general," he said.
While people who have lost a job will go through a "normal grief process," Phipps said they shouldn't just "sit around." He suggested setting goals and starting the job search, along with physical exercise. Walking a mile a day could help improve a person's mood.
Someone whose depression has reached the point that he is considering harming himself, should go to the emergency room, Phipps said. But in general, therapy is a way to address adjustment disorder.
"The strategy is to get them to see it as, 'this will pass, these are the normal ups and downs in life,'" Phipps said. "Look at the positives you have in your life and not just focus on this one negative event."
One consideration is that people don't tend to remain in the same job as long as their parents and grandparents did, Phipps said.
"Now we see people who have, I don't know, five to 10 different jobs in their lifetime," he said. "We're not in a culture anymore where people just have one job for 30 years."
That means a job loss could be seen as an opportunity to find more rewarding employment. Phipps said Washington County has excellent resources, including Washington State and the Washington County Career Center, to help people moving in that direction.
"I would encourage people facing that to start looking at some of the new things out there in terms of employment and training," he said.