So you’ve been laid-off. Regardless of whether you anticipated losing your job, the experience is unsettling. Even if you were beginning to prepare for unemployment, it’s natural to feel destabilized in the face of it. You may not have had the proper closure that comes with a last day in the office, but you’re still feeling left with an imaginary cardboard box filled with your entire work experience. What do you do now?
Below is some step-by-step advice for responding to the news.
1: Take a break.
Everyone’s instinct is to jump right into the job-hunting game and start a frenzy of activity – calls, social-distanced coffees, zoom meetings, etc. On the surface, this sounds great. In reality, this is a mistake. You’ve just been through a major life change and there’s no way you’re presenting yourself in a positive light until you’ve lived with this for a bit. Give yourself time to process what’s just happened. It’s important not to rush into anything while the situation is still raw. Once you’ve gotten feedback from people who love you and know you well, and once you feel ready to approach next steps with optimism and self-assurance, then you can take action.
2: Reframe and reflect.
The possibility of changing jobs, even if you don’t initiate it, can be a gift. Take a minute and think about what you’re doing. You went into this field for a reason, and there are things you like about it. What are they? Now is the time to identify what drives you and make sure your personality and values are well-aligned with the work you do. Which projects and initiatives suited you best? Which did you find to be challenging? The goal is to find a job that taps into the best parts of you, so think hard about what those exactly are. You’ll be happier and more successful if those are aligned.
3: Go through your checklist.
Polish your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, make a list of contacts and connections. Be thorough! Buy a new interview outfit (Or at least just the top for now. You can’t hit the ground running if you don’t have a good zoom-interview jacket!)
4: Ready to network.
Keep it old-fashioned. Pick up the phone and talk to everyone you know, and everyone your friends know! Volunteer for events put on by your business associations. Send emails or hand written notes to people whose work you admire. Ask for informational interviews (if they have the time). Use job boards and forums for information – find jobs that are open and then find people who work in that company and can talk with you about them. Relying on online applications is not always going to cut it – go the extra mile and find your network!
5: Ask for an informational meeting
Oftentimes, especially in our current climate, people want to help but very few are able to hire. When you call someone, ask for an informational interview; detail your experience, identify what you want your next career move to be, and ask for advice. Keep it short and sweet. If a job exists, likely they’ll tell you about it while you’re meeting. You won’t miss an opportunity.
6: Prepare for the first question.
“Tell me about yourself.” How are you going to answer? Now is the time to figure that out. Other questions that will almost certainly be asked are “Why might you be considering new job options right now?” “Why do you want this job?” “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?”
7: Make every conversation count.
No informal interview is ever just informational. Each time you have a chance to talk about your career, it’s a chance to position yourself as a quality candidate in their eyes. Go into that meeting completely prepared; keep up to date on industry news and read their press releases. Stalk their social media pages. Ask their opinions about how you can best position yourself as a top contender in the eyes of a hiring manager.
8: At the end of every meeting, ask who else you might contact, if appropriate.
The possibilities for connection grow exponentially – take advantage of every single conversation.
10: This isn’t easy, but you’ll get through it.
Job-hunting is both exciting and exhausting. Stay positive and optimistic. Eventually, you will land another job, and we are here to act as a resource in the meantime!