MIAMI — Getting a pink slip is usually not a reason to party, but this month several hundred jobless folks in Florida will do just that as they mingle at bars with recruiters. The Pink Slip Party networking event is among several career-related grass roots events and Web sites generating buzz in the social media scene.
It's no surprise that it's a hot topic in Florida, considering the state is second to California in terms of job loss — down 380,000 jobs the past year as of April, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
If you can't make the Pink Slip Parties, organized by Plantation native Carlos Gil and his site JobsDirectUSA.com, check out some tips on finding a job from CareerJockey.org or LemonadeIt.com, each started this year by South Floridians who have dealt with layoffs.
These folks are among dozens of people all over the country investing their time and money to help others find jobs. The creators say putting up these sites isn't a quick way to make a buck: The jobless have no money to spend, and advertisers don't pay much for sites that have low traffic.
Career and money-related domain names are a hot purchase right now for investors. Sedo.com, which sells domain names, is holding auctions this month for names like Wealth.com and Resumes.com, and the top names are expected to sell for six figures. Generic domain names have always been popular, but it's the hot topic of the economy that's making investors more interested. Job-related searches have become the most popular search category for Google Adwords.
Pink Slip Parties have been happening on the West Coast, and Gil decided to bring the casual networking event to Florida and tie them to his site. He has already held three where he lives now in Jacksonville. The next party is at Luma on Park in Winter Park, near Orlando, from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Later this month, he'll host parties in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Jacksonville.
"More or less it's speed-dating for job seekers and recruiters," Gil said.
The 25-year-old Gil was fired from AIG in November. His wife was eight months pregnant, and he channeled his frustrations toward launching JobsDirectUSA.com. He sold some stocks, dug into his savings accounts and made his new job helping find jobs for other people.
But he doesn't see Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com as his competition.
"JobsDirectUSA is putting a face and personality behind the job board," he said. "I'm a real person. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — you can reach out and touch me, see me, call me. These other guys they can't do that. They've become too big."
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Miami resident Juan Lopez-Davies, 36, lost his job in January and started LemonadeIt.com in May with his wife, Melissa Anido-Lopez, 32. They both have full-time jobs, but after investing $4,000 they continue to work on the site on their own time. They just partnered with the University of Miami Toppel Career Center.
"We're hoping that everyone in this unfortunate circumstance will post in our community section," Anido-Lopez said. "When life hands you lemons, Lemon- adeIt."
They say they are motivated to do this to help people, and don't see themselves making a big profit off of the site any time soon. "I feel like we can't abandon these people that are going through what we went through," Anido-Lopez said. "I feel good doing it."
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Jorge Lazaro Diaz, 46, is doing it for the same reasons. He has had several job struggles for the past six years, and joined his church's career help network called BackOnTrackNet.org. After helping the network, he was inspired to start his own site, CareerJockey.org.
He has a full-time job at Terremark Worldwide in Miami and teaches classes at Miami Dade College at night. He said he has toyed with the idea of making this his new full-time job, but with an average of 30 to 60 visitors a day, it's not popular enough yet to make money from advertising.
And money is an issue: His wife has just become a victim of downsizing and lost her job at American Express.