You have been working hard, for a long time now. YEARS. Ten … twenty. Or worse, thirty-plus. And BOOM. You are let go. Layoff? Corporate Downsize? Just found to no longer be a “fit” at the company? What do you do?
Immediately you feel L O S T. You don’t know what hit you, or why. You can only think about your loss of income (even if you did get a severance), your loss of benefits (even if you do get COBRA Ins.), your loss of friends/colleagues, and did you forget any of your personal things from your office before you left?
Well I know this only too well, my friend. It happened to me. In early 2009. I know all of these feelings … and more.
So, here is my advice on things to do immediately to take care of yourself. I will post more in subsequent blogs, this is just to get you going NOW.
(1) Contact those colleagues who you would like to be a reference for you, and ask them if they would be willing to do so. You could even ask for a letter of recommendation although the higher up you are in a position, the less this really matters for your future employment.
(2) File Unemployment immediately. That day, or the following. I KNOW it is hard to do, but do not delay it. This system is in place to help you between jobs and in these tough economic times, let it help you. Put your pride aside and file for it.
(3) Get yourself personal business cards. They need to have your name, e-mail address, phone number (either home, cell or both) and ideally some bullet points of your career strengths. Do not include your home address – that is your private information. There are many places you can get these at, and Vistaprint (on-line at Vistaprint.com) is a great place to go. They offer a lot of cool designs and have an easy layout each. You can completely customize them if you are design savvy.
Another great place I found and regularly use is OfficeDepot.com (not the in-store business cards). They have Value Cards that cost $10 for 100, and they are two-color designs and are on the thick paper stock. And they ship for free! I love these most. You will need these cards for your upcoming networking.
(4) Breathe. Deeply, and a lot. Know that only time will help you get over this shock … and pain. Don’t try to deny these feelings, let them come when they come, and mourn your job loss. It is OK to do this. It is even preferable. The more you allow yourself these feelings, the sooner you can move on to bigger and better things.
(5) Aside from the top 4 things above, plan to take off two weeks to rest, recover and get your head together. This time of “between successes” for you can be short, although in today’s economy it is not so likely, and you deserve this little vacation. If you got a job immediately, it would be a while before you will get a vacation … so do yourself a favor and take this now. It helps greatly in getting yourself together.
(6) When your vacation is over, work on your resume. Get it as up-to-date as possible, then send it to some of your friends for their review. If you have friends who are in HR, even better. Take all reviewers suggestions with grains of salt, and heed those suggestions that resonate with you. You will find over time that everyone has different suggestions and you will end up with many (MANY) versions of your resume. This is ok. In fact it is not uncommon to have a slightly different resume for each job you apply for (but keep a copy of each of them in case you get an interview … so you will know what they are looking at).
(7) Register with on-line job boards (if you have not already done so) and post your most up-to-date resume. You may not get a job through this venue, but you should still do it to keep all your doors open. Use Monster, Career Builder and Dice (if you are an IT professional like me). And there are others. You should also set up a search with each of these job boards so that they send you a daily e-mail with the search results based upon your criteria.
When you search for jobs, use Indeed.com which scans all the openings posted on job boards and the newspaper so you do not have to go looking at each of those places individually. You may get some job overlap between what you find on Indeed.com and what you get in your daily e-mail from the job boards, but too much is better than missing out on something.
(8) Go conservative in your spending from this point on, (for the foreseeable future). This means much less eating out (give yourself tight limits, like once a week) and grocery shop at the least expensive stores. It will help you TONS. Most of the food at these cheap grocery stores are at minimum just fine, and at maximum very good. If you have an Aldi grocery store near you and you are not used to shopping there, try it out. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.
You will find that you go through a lot of supplies at home that you are not used to, such as coffee, creamer, snack food, and toilet paper.
If you are a shop-a-holic like me, make friends with your local Dollar store (mine is a Dollar Tree), with resale shops such as Goodwill, and other local shops that specialize in things like upscale/resale. It is not as bad as it sounds. Goodwill gets some very good items in there and sometimes new things from stores like Target that just didn’t sell. The resale shops are not as cheap, but have some very nice things which are quite affordable. But do limit your spending on this type of thing. Remember to conserve!
(9) Go to local events for unemployed persons and local networking events. You will find out about these places the more you talk with people in your same boat, but first try your local unemployment office. They should have information on some of these meetings. Then meet new people!
In networking situations I tend to be a little bit shy. The more extroverted you are, the better you will be at talking to strangers but even if you are very very shy, still go to these events. At minimum you will gain valuable knowledge, and maybe just maybe you’ll meet a new friend.
By the way, I met my HUSBAND at one of these networking events! No, I was not looking at all. Nor was he. And I do not encourage you to do this to meet a date or “hookup”. These events are professional and that mentality will only make you lose credibility. So keep your professional hat on while attending these events!
(10) Lastly, really try to get some exercise. Even if just taking a walk around the block. Just getting your blood pumping and the fresh air will do wonders for your morale. And morale is a delicate thing. It needs daily attention.
Until the next post … Hang in there my friend!