Get your cool on and stay as calm as possible. Up until the early 1990s, most employees would stay with one employer for years, possibly decades. Once companies such as IBM started to lay people off, other companies followed suit. The notion of lifetime employment was removed from the American workplace. Many of us have been tossed around from job to job regardless of our stellar performance or deep desire to be loyal and stay in one place.
Hiring managers are fully aware that you can lose your job regardless of your performance or ability to work. To clearly address any concerns they might have I recommend this preemptive action:
Early on, when you speak with the hiring manager or recruiter, tell him or her why you are unemployed (be sure to practice your narrative skills). They are looking for a story they can understand. If you leave a clear explanation until later, you lose credibility. Don’t be embarrassed that you were laid off. It happens, and the longer you work the greater the chance it will happen to you. You have earned your stripes as a contemporary American worker.
The moment you are laid off, immediately file for unemployment insurance. Every day you don’t file is money you and your family are losing. Unless you agree to not file for unemployment insurance get yourself into your state’s unemployment process, as you never know when you will need the financial resource.
Take your personal inventory
Why make an inventory of your skills? You should know them, for heaven’s sake! But if you have had your nose to the proverbial grindstone for a few years, your resume and your 30 second personal pitch will need some freshening up. You have learned a great deal over the past few years that is VERY cool and VERY valuable to your next employer.
Sit down with a friend or spouse and take an inventory of your professional and personal skills. Rank them by what you love to do and what you do well. How you can start is by taking a sheet of paper and writing down 10 (or as many as you want) things you love to do regardless of you having done them in the past for your work. Perhaps you enjoy cooking, writing, organizing, whatever, just write down 10 (or more) and the last few might take a while. Once you have your list, make another with 10 ways to earn a living for each no matter how outlandish it sounds. This is brain storming so all ideas are welcome. Once you have completed that start to circle the ways of making money that appear most attractive to you. You might find you have a few that go together well. This is an iterative process so take your time and see how many things you like and ways to make money you can expel from your brain.
Create a game plan for what’s next
Loosing your job could very well be the best thing to happen to you. Why you ask? What better incentive to start the business you always wanted to; take some time to visit family and friends; rest up after pushing your body to the edge with long work hours; or any number of reasons only you and your family know.
So now is the time to come up with one or more plans of action that outline where you want to go next in your career.
Check list for when you are laid off
Below is a list of things to do once you are laid off. Review it and make any additions based on your personal needs. Keep this list handy so that when you are terminated you don’t have to think, but just follow this list. Once you get laid off, your emotions will be very active and could cloud your judgment and memory.
___ Hold off on signing any legal documents that your employer gives you until you or your lawyers have read through them carefully. Never read them the day you are let go.
___ Return all company property that was given to you, including keys and computers. Make sure there is a signed document that records your return of company property.
___ Say goodbye to colleagues and keep it brief. Let them know you will be in touch at greater length in the following days or weeks. Don’t make a big production of leaving, as you have a lot to get done.
___ Create an auto-reply for your work email account so people will know what has happened to you and where they can find you. You can give out your personal email address or phone number.
___ Leave a voice message on your phone with a forwarding number so people calling your work number can find you.
___ Take your personal documents off of your computer via email or memory stick.
___ Pack your things from work to take home.
___ Drive directly to your state’s unemployment office and file for unemployment insurance. Many states allow you to file for unemployment insurance over the phone.
___ Re-write your resume and be sure to include all of your new skills. Have it proof read by at least two people who read and write English well.
___ Update your LinkedIn profile and email your friends that you have been laid off and tell them what kind of position you are looking for next. Ask your colleagues for positive references on your LinkedIn profile. You might want to give them to colleagues in order to get them in return.
___ Post and update your resume to the following job boards
___ Career TV at www.careertv.com
___ Any Web site that is specific to your career
___ Make a list of people you can call who can help you get your next job. Write them down so you don’t forget anyone. Keep notes of when you contacted them and what was said during the call. Let them know what you are looking for and ask if they can forward your resume to other folks as they see fit. Create a follow-up plan that works for them so you can keep track of progress.
___ Compose a 30 (or less) second elevator pitch that tells people what you are looking to do. If asked be prepared to briefly tell them what happened and why you lost your job.
___ Follow Job Angel on twitter and any other job sites on Twitter.
___ Google terms like Job Search and Social Media to find the latest and greatest tools on the web you can use to get your next job.
___ Find and read bloggers in your domain expertise.
___ Add your work history to InSide Job on Facebook. This is a tool that I built which helps you network professionally on Facebook. http://apps.facebook.com/insidejob.
___ Create a personal business card with your name, phone number, email address and job title.
___ Go to networking events every day or as much as possible. Collect business cards and give out yours. Use sites like meetup.com to find people like yourself to network with.
___ Start getting interviews and have the life you choose on your terms.