If you have been laid off before, you know that surviving this difficult situation requires planning and preparation. This three-part series started with a look at financial and emotional survival after a layoff. This week ends the series with tips for surviving professionally if your job is cut.
•Tell your network that you have been or will be laid off. This includes family, friends, business contacts, neighbors – anyone who might have leads for you should get the news. If possible, tell the story without much detail or emotion, to avoid being etched in contacts’ minds as angry or bitter. Reserve those emotions for a few close friends, but tell the rest of the world that you’re ready to move forward.
•If you have access to your work space, gather copies of your work to use in your portfolio. Review your company’s directory and note contacts who might help in your job search. This is also a good time to get copies of past reviews.
•Gather letters of recommendation. Your bosses may not be allowed to provide these, but consider as well past bosses who have left the company, peers and even clients or vendors. The point is to provide a positive picture of your employment. Letters will serve you better in the long run than simply listing people on a reference page.
•Prepare a resume. The best resumes are targeted to a specific career path and demonstrate key skills and experiences in that field. Unfortunately, laid-off workers are often uncertain of their career choices directly after a layoff, making it difficult to create an optimal resume. For now, simply present your most marketable skills and a clear explanation of your work and education. The document can be refined later.
•Access job search assistance. If your company offers outplacement services, use them as fully as your schedule allows. Also check your state workforce center and local nonprofits to find programs targeted to laid-off workers.
•On your own, or with the help of a counselor, make a career change or job search plan. Include dates for key steps so you can check your progress, and research your chosen field, to ensure there will be career opportunities and adequate pay. Conducting informational interviews and attending professional association meetings can be helpful.
•Start a new network immediately. Besides your current contacts, you now need to add regular meetings in your goal profession, such as user groups or trade association sessions.
•Create your marketing tools. In addition to your resume, you will need business cards and a LinkedIn profile.
•Even if your budget doesn’t call for it, get a part-time job, or at least a volunteer position. The discipline will also keep you sharp, while providing an answer for the dreaded interview question, “What have you been doing since your layoff?”
•Keep working your plan, troubleshooting problems as they arise. Meet regularly with a job search buddy, career counselor or mentor to stay on track, and reward yourself for meeting goals.