With the economy struggling to rebound and the unemployment rate having just spiked up to 8.2 percent, WCBS 880’s news anchor Wayne Cabot other members of the Newsradio 880 team are producing a weeklong special series of reports, running through June 8, called Where The Jobs Are.

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Sometimes getting downsized can have an upside, WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot reported.

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WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot On The Story

Heng from East Brunswick worked at a big New Jersey pharmaceutical company he didn’t want to name, but he saw himself retiring there.

Then after 23 years there, he was among 6,000 people laid off.

He said he didn’t see it coming.

But after it happened, he only allowed himself about two days in a funk.

“I said to myself ‘Go out and network with people’ and this is how I found my job that will start soon,” he told Cabot.

That search took about six months and the job is with a small, agile biotech firm in Cranberry looking to tackle genetic disorders too unprofitable for big pharma.

“Now, of course with the old big pharma, you had at least a sense of security because they were big. They’d be around for a long time. Although it turned out that security wasn’t all that strong, was it?” asked Cabot.

“Now I learned that there’s no job security,” he said.

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The number of these New Jersey biotechs has quadrupled in the last decade, Cabot reported, and they have their pick of those experienced, laid off workers.

Then there’s Jim Barrett. He had been at AT&T for 25 years when he got squeezed, but he saw it coming.

He had a Got Junk franchise lined up. Now he loves it and encourages others to work for themselves.

“You can’t imagine where it’s going to take you,” he told Cabot. “In fact, I would say the first thing is start volunteering. Network. Get your name out there. If nothing else, you’ll have some contacts.”

Contacts are where it’s at.

Heng hooked up with a trade group, BioNJ, during his job search.

“I applied to over 70 openings and I got about 20 interviews,” he said.

Out of those 20 interviews, he got three offers.

“The key thing is to apply and continue applying until you get a job offer,” he said. “Don’t stop, and you need to follow up.”

BioNJ is holding a career fair at the Rutgers Student Center on the New Brunswick campus on Tuesday, June 26. For more information, click here.

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