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Laid off? Try a Pink Slip Party

Ylan Mui

The pink slip party is back.

The concept -- laid off workers booze it up with recruiters at happy hour -- took off after the dot-com bust early this decade. But in retrospect, those were good days: The unemployment rate was only about 4 percent. Today, it is more than double that figure and expected to rise even more.

So 28-year-old James Cargo of the District donned a suit and tie and headed to the downtown Lotus Lounge for Washington's revival of the pink slip party. James was laid off six months ago from his job as a campaign fundraiser. He estimates that he's sent out about two dozen resumes but has no real leads yet. He's living off his savings and unemployment benefits.

"It's pretty tight," he said of the local job market. "The same situation that would case me to be laid off is affecting other companies."

The parties have been proliferating across the country. There's the Wall Street pink slip party. The Los Angeles Times put together a short pink slip party guide. They've also popped up in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.

The D.C. party was the brainchild of PR maven and girl-about-town Andrea Rodgers. She told me that a girlfriend called her in February and said she had recently been fired. Did Andrea know of any local pink slip parties? She couldn't find any, so Andrea started her own.

The parties are held on the second Thursday of each month at Lotus starting at 5 p.m. At the first two parties that Andrea held, more than 100 people showed up, she said. Last night, about two dozen people were mingling within the first hour. Andrea said she is not sure if anyone has gotten hired through her pink slip parties, but she knows folks have at least scored interviews. Almost everyone there was dressed in suits and button-downs. Some come armed with business cards and resumes.

"They need to be open to having a second and third career in their lives," she said. "It's better not to limit it."

Amanda Gossett of Reston is a division manager and vice president at SAIC. She was looking for folks to work as project managers or financial managers for immediate openings and future positions. Since she's seeking highly skilled employees, Amanda said the pool of applicants is small and competitive. It was her first pink slip party recruiting trip, and she was quickly surrounded by jobseekers.

Andrea flitted among the crowd, making introductions and spicing up conversations. Ideally, she said, no one would need to come to these parties because that means more people have jobs. But she said she planned to host the events as long as she sees a need.

By Ylan Mui  |  May 15, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Unemployment , Ylan Q. Mui  
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