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After long layoff, job seekers return to routine

Associated Press Modified: September 24, 2009 at 4:26 pm •  Published: September 24, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) — If surveys and statistics are to be believed, the job market is beginning to show a pulse, which means some laid-off workers will need to adjust to the 9-to-5 routine again.

The number of layoffs announced by major U.S. corporations dropped by 21 percent in August — below July levels and 14 percent below a year ago, according to the executive recruiter Challenger, Gray Christmas.

A telephone survey by recruiter Robert Half International and online job site CareerBuilder, found more than half of the employers polled expected to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months.

For job seekers who have been out of work since the first throes of the recession, going back into the work force comes with a new set of challenges. Many will have to adjust to workplaces that have changed dramatically during the downturn.

"It's real, a lot of folks have been out of pocket," said Dawn Fay, district president in New York for Robert Half. "Many companies out of necessity have found new ways to do things."

Returning employees will need to accept that things will be different, moderate their expectations and do some homework before the first day back at work to lessen the shock, said experts. They may not even be doing the same type of work; the Robert Half/CareerBuilder survey found 38 percent of new hires polled found jobs in different industries than the ones they left.

For example, after being laid off as an editor at a Detroit news radio station last October, James Melton accepted a part-time job handling public relations for a local nonprofit group shortly before Labor Day.

He acknowledged moving into public relations is an adjustment and he would rather have a full-time job, but he said it's a foothold into a different line of work with a group whose goals he supports. The nonprofit, Inforum Michigan, aims to encourage women's leadership roles.

"I don't think I would do it if it was a widget market but because of their mission and what they do, I'm on board," he said. He expects that it will turn into a full-time position eventually.

It's not just workplaces that have changed since the beginning of the downturn. Workers who have spent time exploring other career options, taking courses and spending more time with family won't necessarily want to go back to the same grind they left.

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