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High-Tech Unemployment

Pink-Slip Parties

Coping Together continued...

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Hemming, 33, says she started the parties after realizing that people would feel better about themselves if they got together to share their experiences. She worked for the online magazine POV until it went under two years ago, and now she runs The Hired Guns, a marketing consulting firm. She is also writing a book on coping with job loss in the post-tech-bubble era.

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Hemming says while many displaced dot-commers have moved on and are coping well, others are struggling with anxieties and self-doubt.

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"Some people do take it extremely personally, even if they are laid off because of a company closure," she says. "They go into a state of what I call pink-slip paralysis. It is a psychological feeling that has everything to do with inertia. Here in New York it is so easy for people to go home to their tiny study apartments, pull down the shades, turn on the TV, and shut the world out."

Should Have Seen It Coming

San Francisco therapist Joan DiFuria specializes in counseling tech-sector executives dealing with sudden wealth. But these days many of her clients are facing the sudden loss of that wealth.

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Though many have lost millions in stocks and stock options, she says she is seeing more resilience than despair.

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"Some feel that the money wasn't theirs anyway. That it came too easily," she says. "And there is the sense that 'I blew it, but I can make it back.'"

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As a group, she says, those in their 20s and early-to-mid 30s appear to be coping better than those over 35 who are more likely to have families to support and more experience with job loss.

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"The younger ones have the energy and drive, and the sense that they can come back and do it again," she says. "Many of the 29-year-olds that I see are going back to school. They are going back for the MBAs that didn't seem important before, realizing that they need more substantial resumes."

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Older workers are more likely to experience depression, self-doubt, and fear, DiFuria says. They are more hesitant to take the next step and are more likely to blame themselves for their failures.

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