It has been called several names; reduction in force, laying off, downsizing, structural readjustment and what have you. Whatever you call it, it’s still the worst information anyone would ever want to receive in their place of work. Somehow, trying to lessen the pain associated with such news may explain why bosses and human resources officers have creatively crafted so many ways to basically say, “I’m sorry, your services aren’t needed here anymore.” If you have received such notice, the first question you find yourself asking is, “So what do I do now?”
Though there may not be an easy fix or an immediate remedy to suddenly make all things better or make the current state of unemployment disappear. There are, however, certain steps you can take to help you not merely survive unemployment, but also speed up your job search and improve your prospects of getting hired.
Step 1: Visit the Drawing Board
The drawing board in this case could be your notepad and pen, your computer or your tablet. Anywhere you feel more comfortable putting together your resume, becomes your drawing board.
You may have been out of the labour market for so long that you don’t know what exactly employers are looking out for. Go online for a bit of research on the best ways to put your resume together.
Red flags you need to avoid in the resume-building stage
Poorly written resume. Make sure your punctuation and grammar is correct. Have knowledgeable people you trust proofread your writing before submitting your resume.
Merely listing your experiences does not automatically qualify you for the job offered. Be sure to understand the responsibilities and process requirements that are explained in the job description and align your experiences accordingly.
There are large gaps in employment history. Considering these difficult times, many people have extended periods of unemployment on their records. Explain reasons for the gaps, including activities you engaged in that are related to the field of work you are interested in.
Step 2: Maintain Your Schedule
Throughout your employment, you showed up at the office, Monday through Friday, for at least eight hours a day — maybe you even worked weekends. That you have been laid off is no excuse for you to now decide to loaf off. As much as you can, maintain the same schedule, commit the same amount of time looking for a job as you did to performing your previous job. If you are wondering how you will fill up all those hours in the day, let’s start by looking at things you shouldn’t do:
Browse the Internet for fun.
Play on your game console.
Socialize with friends either online or in person — this is fake networking, so don’t fool yourself.
Take care of chores such as cleaning the house, shopping, and cooking.
This is not to say that you cut these activities out of your life entirely. When you were gainfully employed, you participated in these activities after your workday; you should apply the same stringent standards to your current job search.
Step 3: Don’t Become a Recluse
In truth, unemployment can certainly lead to depression, which makes the job search even harder. Your first reaction may be to look for a bed to crawl under and hide. You even feel a certain sense of shame, but now is not the time to wallow. This is the worst possible time to become a recluse. Instead, get out there and engage with your network, even if it’s the very last thing you want to do. As a result, you’ll be energized, and you will experience positive results. Try the following to stay active.
Start by picking up the phone and contacting your colleagues and business associates.
Take advantage of social networking as well. Not updates that describe what you ate for lunch, but use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to reach out to people who can support you in your search.
Step 4: Seek Role Models and Mentors
The role of such people in your life is to challenge and motivate you. Look out for people whose life stories you admire and seek them out for mentorship. Even if you do not have such people around you, pick up good biographies that will charge you and set you on fire.
Studying the lives of great entrepreneurs will motivate you, and their stories will also provide you with effective business-building ideas. You’ll see that they faced tremendous obstacles and often experienced heartbreaking failure before accomplishing their goals.
Step 5: Be a Lifelong Learner
There are innumerable resources related to finding a job. Most of these resources are free and are available online. The key is to take advantage of what is available to you. However, remember that the line between entertainment and education can sometimes become hazy, so make sure that your career research isn’t really recreation.
Don’t stop reading once you land a job either. Remember that in this highly competitive Information Age, there’s always going to be someone who is vying for your position. Therefore, researching voraciously throughout your working years is an essential part of staying on top of your profession, maintaining a competitive edge, and being able to quickly adapt to change.
Looking for a job is never easy. In fact, it can be horribly discouraging. But if you do not give up, if you are disciplined and precise in your pursuits, your hard work will eventually pay off; and you may be surprised that you landed a job that is far better than your previous position.
To your career success!