What To Do When You Lose Your Job
The national unemployment rate has been hovering around 8 percent since January – an improvement of nearly two percentage points since 2010. But big and small companies continue to announce layoffs including computer giant Hewlett Packard, which recently said it is cutting its workforce by about 27,000 employees – 7.7 percent of its total – in order to save as much as $3.5 billion.
The bottom line is that layoffs occur in good or bad economic times. Personnel, after all, is any company’s biggest expense so layoffs become an obvious course for companies to take. Given this reality, it makes sense for you to know what to do if you lose your job.
Here are eight tips that make sense for anyone, whether you are white- or blue-collar.
Fix Your Résumé
This piece of paper most likely is the first impression you’ll make on potential employers and most résumés are too wordy and unfocused. If you don’t have a lot of experience, a résumé should never be more than one page long. If you do, it should not exceed two pages. As you redo your résumé, include specifics on how you saved your employers money or made them more efficient. More than anything, make it clear to future employers how you can help them. Don’t write what you want: “to obtain a position that allows me to grow as a professional….” Blah, blah, blah. A company is going to spend a lot of money if it hires you. It is not interested in what you want. Companies want to know how you can make them better. If this seems like something you are unable to do, ask someone for help or hire a professional writer. (For tips on resume writing, see 7 Helpful Tips For Writing An Awesome Resume.)
Get The Word Out
This may be the last thing you want to do, but you need to let the world know that you are unemployed and you don’t want to remain that way. There are a lot of ways to do it. If you are white collar, join LinkedIn which is like Facebook for professionals who want to network. LinkedIn is a great place to put your résumé. Include a longer version of it with a photo and reference letters. It is also a place where you can post a PowerPoint presentation and video clips. Facebook also has a lot to offer job hunters. You can highlight your work experience and education on your profile and list your hobbies. Just keep it professional. The CEO of a staffing company in Virginia was impressed with a candidate he interviewed for a vice president job until he checked her Facebook page and found photos of her in underwear and thong bikinis that she posted. Use Facebook as a way to let a lot of people know a little about you.
Meet With Mentors
If you don’t have mentors, shame on you. You need them whether or not you are employed. Meet with them as often as they’re willing, buy them coffee or lunch, pump them for advice and take advantage of their professional contacts. Chances are that your next job will come, not from a classified ad, but because of who you know – and who they know.
Network In Unlikely Places
Figure out who you know who seems to know everyone and talk with them. Who might know everyone? Your mailman, the hair stylist, a bartender. Good financial advisers spend more time listening to their clients talk about their families and friends than they do doling out advice. People who know lots of people are people you want to know if you are unemployed.
Create A Great Looking Business Card
Successful people – employed or not – don’t leave home without them because they never know who they’re going to run into. At a recent party, the CEO of a Maryland-based healthcare company grumbled to other guests when a doctor he was chatting with had no business card to give him. You don’t want to be without one if a potential employer asks for yours. (To learn about printing your own business cards, see Saving Money By Printing Your Own Business Cards.)
Don’t Stop Exercising
You’ll hear many people say you should treat job hunting as a full-time job if you want a full-time job. That’s true, but you also need to carve out time to exercise. Not only will it relieve stress during this stressful time, but it will keep you looking in shape. Like it or not, future employers will judge you based on how you look and plenty of studies show that people who look good receive favoritism during interviews and afterward.
Take The High Road
Speaking of interviews, never badmouth your former employer no matter how much you are tempted to do so. It always reflects negatively on you when you criticize others. If a potential employer finds information about you that makes you look bad and you are asked about it, it is appropriate to defend yourself. Just be classy and professional.
If you follow the advice above, you haven’t canceled your gym membership and you may have paid someone to fix your résumé and bought new business cards and lots of coffee and lunches for mentors and others who can connect you to potential employers. These are all good investments that very well may help you land your next job. But if you are not working, you need to pay close attention to expenses. Cut back where you can. Eat out less. Splurge less. Don’t travel for pleasure. Bottom line: Spend money on needs, not wants.
If you have just lost your job, keep these tips in mind. They can help you to get back in the workforce in no time.