For several months I've been asked almost weekly to help someone who's just lost a paycheck to find their next one.

(I don't say "lost their job" because that's like saying "stay-at-home mom"—they're still working, often very hard. When unemployed, people must work to get re-employed... only now there's no employer-sponsored paycheck.)

Unemployment is the new social disrupter. Never do I recall so many friends of friends losing their jobs at the same time. So, naturally, one can understand the scarcity mentality that kicks in. It is frightening not to know how you're going to feed the family and pay the bills.

As a result, most people have a fight (urgency or desperation) or flight (denial or flash-frozen) reaction. Both are apt to lead to dead ends.

I can't help but compare some smart, unemployed former executives to what I call the "new-waiter phenomenon." Have you ever noticed how bad the service can be from a new waiter or waitress? They'll ask, "What would you like to drink?" and then bring nothing. Or they hover and drive you crazy in the beginning of the meal, and then are MIA when you're ready for more coffee and the check. It's as if they've never eaten at a restaurant before in their lives!

Everything these waiters ever knew when they were diners went right out of their heads once they became servers. They're missing a sensitivity chip (to quote Jennifer Aniston, commenting on a different behavioral change); they're oblivious to connecting what they liked and what drove them crazy when they were being served to how to take care of their customers.

Forget more training: They're just too focused on themselves and their own discomfort level.

Here's my point: Contacting everyone you've ever known in your life and requesting they rally everyone they know to help you find your next job is the equivalent of recruitment spam. You never cared about me while you were employed; why do you care about me now that you're not?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lori Feldman is known as The Database Diva (www.TheDatabaseDiva.com). She works with business leaders and sales professionals to squeeze every drop of profit out of their customer database.