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Pink Slip: How one man dealt with shock of “downsizing”

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Cathy Dobson

Bill Yurchuk had no idea the axe was about to fall.

“I knew revenue was down at the CCS,” says the former general manager of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Sarnia branch. “I knew there were definite changes coming to CCS events, like Relay for Life.

“Then I walked in on a Monday morning and two people were in my office.  Forty-five minutes later, I was leaving.”

It was immediate. No time to say goodbye. Yurchuk, in the top position for just over a year, had been “downsized.”

The layoff was not performance related, he said, but, regardless, it was a blow to his confidence – and his financial future.

A white-collar worker in Sarnia doesn’t have a lot of job prospects, he said.

“I’m not old, but I’m not young either. I’m 49 and I was afraid there wouldn’t be anyone willing to hire me.

“That’s what goes through your mind.  You’re full of fears when something like that happens. It’s scary. But I learned that in reality age doesn’t really matter. In the end, I’ve learned it’s experience that matters.”

Yurchuk didn’t let the job loss paralyze him. He accepted help from the Cancer Society to update his resume. He began texting and calling friends in the Sarnia community.

“I’m not one to wallow around in my sorrows. I wanted another job right away,” he said pointing to an unusual tattoo on his left arm inspired by his grandfather.

“I look at it every day and I have the same thing on my licence plate,” he said.

The number 99 is surrounded by six capital I’s that stand for Innovation, Integrity, Inspiration, Involvement, Imagination and Intelligence. The 99 is meant to motivate “so that you achieve as close to your perfect standard as you can.

“It’s a mantra I follow,” said Yurchuk.  “I have extremely high expectations of myself, probably to an unhealthy degree. I didn’t allow myself to sit down even though I was scared.”

He turned to Internet sites like Indeed and WowJobs and found a handful of new positions posted daily.

“But most are for people with a skill set like nurses and engineers, or for minimum wage jobs.  There’s hardly anything else.”

Yet one ad caught his eye. Within a week of being downsized, Yurchuk responded to a call for a CEO in the healthcare profession. There were no other details.

He also received a call from Rob Ravensberg at Lambton Ford who offered him a position at the dealership. Yurchuk took that job but he was upfront that his true desire is to work in a “helping” non-profit environment.

“Rob was very gracious about it,” he said. “He understood completely. I am very grateful that he realized I appreciated the job but I have a personal passion to work at something that protects people who need assistance.”

The advertised healthcare job turned out to be at Lambton Elderly Outreach. LEO provides services across Sarnia-Lambton to keep seniors and the disabled in their homes. Yurchuk was chosen for an interview and ultimately hired.

Seven weeks elapsed between losing his job and starting at LEO.  And he spent five of those weeks working for Lambton Ford.

“Ultimately, all my fears were irrelevant,” said Yurchuk who started with LEO April 13. “When I lost my job, I felt really defeated, that I’d let my family down. It was a public thing too and that was difficult.

“But I won that fight against my own lack of self-confidence.  My drive to not let myself or my family down was stronger than all my fears.”


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