In case you’ve been living in a cave, which the credit union industry can be at times, our economy stinks. Just go look at your 401K statement, at least what’s left of it. And this go around, the credit union industry has not been spared. With the massive problems that the credit crunch produced on a national level, it was only a matter of time until the crunch hit corporate credit unions. Impairments and assessments are just some of the four letter words being thrown around by credit union CEO’s, CFO’s, and the occasional CMO. Once these assessments began impacting the bottom line of credit unions, the layoffs were soon to follow.
In the graph to the right, the orange line is income and the blue line represents the number of employees in the industry. As you can see, the industry has been experiencing many layoffs. In typical credit union fashion, they tried to hold off on layoffs hoping that this recession would be short lived. After 6 straight months of massive revenue decline (the industry lost $3.2B in the 1st quarter of 2009), the layoffs began coming and have continued well past the turning point of the income crunch. Roughly 3,000 people have been laid off in just over a year.
While these layoffs represented less than 2% of the total credit union workforce, many high quality people have been displaced and flooded the job market with very experienced candidates. With layoffs continuing, finding a job was proving to be incredibly difficult, even for these experienced people. What made this recession different however, was the new tools available to credit unions, laid off employees, and recruiters that hadn’t been available before.
Jason Lindstrom was the Chief Political Officer for a large credit union in California and was laid off the end of last year. So what is a veteran of the CU political process, with nearly two decades of experience, to do when he’s laid off? Try to put an ad in the CU Times is the correct answer. Together with Matt Davis, they put together a campaign to raise money for Jason to place this ad in the CU Times. Additionally, Jason has been active on Twitter and his blog, all tools that barely existed less than 5 years ago. With all these tools at his disposal, Jason has been able to create quite the conversation around him and his abilities, getting his resume in front of people that normally would not have been exposed to it.
Another great example is Carla Day. She too was laid off from her credit union, but has turn adversity into opportunity. Carla created, to my knowledge, one of the first internet radio talk shows specifically about credit unions called CU Chat Up. She has interviewed probably over 100 people by now and has generated much word of mouth around herself and CU Chat Up. Similar to Jason, Carla is also active on her blog and on Twitter, expanded her audience, and pool of potential employers, even more.
Many tools exist today for the ranks of the unemployed that are providing new opportunities to demonstrate their experience and have their resume, and themselves, seen in front of a very large audience compared to what was possible only 5 years ago. If you find yourself in an un-or-under employed situation, have hope. All recessions eventually have turned around and hopefully this one won’t be different. Use some of these new technology tools to help build your network and your experience. The massive “flight to safety” from the stock market and other investment vehicles has inflated the balance sheets of credit unions. Once these assets age, the income will begin to catch up, thus stabilizing the bottom line and the capital ratio of many credit unions. Once that occurs, credit unions will being to hire again and fill positions that have been allowed to remain vacant through this economy.