So, you find yourself unemployed, now what? (2)
Every day, I hear from people that tell me they aren’t sure what they should be doing in regard to their job search. Many end up chasing job announcements on all the major job boards, or not doing anything at all. Others just seem to get distracted with absolutely anything else that comes up.
It is easy to get caught up in marathon laundry days, house cleaning, birthday parties, painting or remodel projects, or spending five hours at the gym. Whether it is not knowing what to do next and giving up, or getting distracted with other projects/activities, both situations require a better focus and establishing priorities. Before you get involved with other things, get a better handle on what you need to accomplish to fulfill your goal of going back to work. Then break it down to all of the tasks required and plan each day in advance, so there is no hesitation about what to do. (If you need help with this, then get it!)
If you aren’t getting the results you seek, then take a look at your investment each day. Set yourself up to succeed, rather than taking a passive approach by waiting to see what happens next.
Start each day as if you were going to work. If you want to be the one catching the worms, then you simply need to get started before a normal business day begins, not when it is half gone. Get dressed. Schedule chores around the necessary work on your job search, not in the middle of prime business time. If you are only working a few hours per day on your search, you’re not likely to produce anything of value in this market. Someone else will always be two steps ahead of you.
Establish a routine. Act like you are working. Get into a routine and function on a schedule that can be followed once you go back to work. Go to the gym early, late or on a lunch break. Stick to a schedule you will be able to follow when you return to work. It is certainly good to work out, sleep, and take care of yourself, but check yourself to make sure you are not taking any of these activities to such an extreme that you are prevent from spending the time you need to attend to your search.
Use an active search. Research – stop wasting time on a passive search by only looking for job announcements. Dig in. Get to know companies in your field and start reading about them. Use the internet to identify more companies/organizations you can pursue. Use social networking tools to connect with people in those companies to learn more. If you do learn of openings, you can ask for a referral.
Stay connected. Reach out beyond your former coworkers that have been laid off. Connect with people that are working. Find out what is going on in their worlds. Ask about their challenges. Listen for clues about openings that may fit others in your network if they don’t fit your skills.
Be ready to act immediately. Your resume needs to be ready to fly within hours of learning about a posting. Make sure your information is in a form that allows you to make edits quickly, without spending hours and days agonizing over what to send. If it is already the day after you learned of an opening, there is a good chance the organization is already being bombarded with responses. Three days later? Forget it.
Review your progress. If you have been at this more than a month, then evaluate what you have been doing every day. Is what you are doing getting results? If not, do you know why? Are you doing enough or is your work incomplete? Are you truly investing enough time each day? Do you need help with what you are writing, saying, or with knowing what to look for?
Don’t give up. Review past opportunities. Many times companies will interview candidates and select someone that ends up not working out. It is a good idea to check back in 30 days to see how things are going. Track when you last spoke to a contact or when you were advised a position was filled. Continue to check their websites for new opportunities. Be on top of anything new and contact them immediately. Don’t assume they will remember to call you without some prompting.
Get help. This is not meant to ignore the emotional issues we face when we have been laid off. It is common to grieve the loss of your job and your daily routine. You might feel somewhat less than whole. This is normal. If you are having difficulty dealing with this, then get it is even more important not to isolate or get sucked into any self destructive habits. Get professional help if you are stuck. Don’t ignore how you are feeling by getting caught up in distractions. It will only cause more grief later.
Are you really prepared to go back to work any time soon? What struggles have you encountered? Are there tips you can share that have helped you stay on track?