I speak with people all the time who are in a funk after they are laid off. They are on the 14th revision to their resume trying to make it “perfect,” and haven’t been outdoors since they were laid off, fired, “RIF’d,” “excessed” . . . whatever word they use to describe it.
Even before you think you are ready to interview, there are things you can be doing to get yourself going:
- File for unemployment benefits. The fact is, you can use the money, and you are entitled to it. Do not let your emotions stand in the way of reason here. Fill out the forms! I remember speaking with someone who was out of work for three months and hadn’t filed for benefits yet. When I asked him why he told me he was too busy. I asked, “Gee, for three months you didn’t have any spare time to file a claim. Do you know how much money you haven’t collected yet?” When I told him, he went there within two days.
- If you haven’t made a budget yet, do it! Do not “wing it”. Determine your expenses by looking at your last three months’ costs. Don’t just simply say $3000 on my American Express. What did you spend on your American Express to make it a $3000 bill? Think for a moment, if I am out of work three months from now, what expenses would I eliminate and do it now! Remember, you are probably going to be paying for your full health insurance costs (if your spouse has access to health insurance, see if you can switch on to their plan). Save your money! Do you need four cars (and their insurance and maintenance)? Every dollar you save now will afford you time as you look for work. HC was someone who was able to last for almost two years despite liquidating his and his family’s retirement savings and cutting back dramatically on their spending. No more dinners out, music downloads, expensive sneakers, or lattes from Starbucks. He found his next job . . . eventually. Too often, people make the necessary cuts when their resources are running low instead of before they have put big dents into them. Be an adult and do what is necessary BEFORE a crisis occurs.
- What are your financial assets How liquid are they? A terrific painting isn’t particularly liquid but a mutual fund is. Speak with your financial advisor before doing anything! I can’t stress this enough. Get help here to ensure that you organize any liquidation of assets well, taking into account tax consequences. While speaking with, ask for advice about approaching your lenders, particularly your mortgage lender, about seeking reduced payments.
- Don’t become a hermit. Get support. As I mentioned in the last chapter, if you are in therapy, continue to be in therapy. Hire a career coach to work with you and help you with your focus. I coach people throughout a job search or a career change. There other capable coaches available on LinkedIn.
- Schedule a meeting with the outplacement service your company contracted with to help you. Find out what resources are available to you from them. They will probably prepare the resume for you, provide you access to coaching (not all of which is good) that can help you get going again.
- Avoid using your credit cards Take them out of your wallet or purse and resist the urge to use them. You may find yourself in a store and reach for one to charge something and laugh when you realize it is at home. Good! Better not to add to your debt or wind up in debt by charging dinner, sneakers, or something else that you will forget about in two weeks.
- Start talking to people More jobs are filled by networking than any other manner and you never know when the job lead will turn up from. John Sampson from MIS Networks told me a wonderful story about the man who found a job because of his cleaning woman. It seems that she kept asking for a resume and he never gave it to her. Finally, his wife demanded that he give it to the woman to shut her up. It seems that the woman’s husband was a director with a large firm that wanted to hire someone and Mr. Stuck-Up filled the bill.
- Prepare your elevator speech An elevator speech is aptly named. It is a short presentation, one that lasts no more than 15-20 seconds (as long as it might take to travel from the lobby to the top floor of a building). It can be given at networking meetings, casual events (the kids’ soccer game, for example), job fairs, cold calls to employers when you leave voice mail, and any other situation where the subject allows you to give yourself a “commercial.” It can also be given by your spouse for situations that he or she finds themselves in, too. There are a lot of “cute” versions of an elevator pitch but, for now, think of extending yourself beyond the words, “I’m an engineer looking for a job,” or I’m an attorney looking for a firm to join where I can sue people.”
- Start contacting recruiters There may be people who you have used to hire staff at your last job or the one before that. You may get referrals from people you know of people who they think are extremely good. However, you come to them, start contacting recruiters.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2008, 2010, 2016, 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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