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Friday, May 1, 2009

Laid Off: 15 Steps to Take if you Lose Your Job

In today’s uncertain times, many people are finding themselves part of a nasty statistic, being one of the unemployed masses having to find work. This usually hits people who least expect it, and the task of finding another job can seem overwhelming.

Being an IT freelancer for a dozen years, over time I acquired the skills of being a “professional work finder”, if you will. For me “the end” was not usually due to a corporate downsizing, but rather, was in plain sight 3, 6, or 12 months over the horizon. While the techniques I used were successful in IT contracting, they will work in any industry and for permanent employment.

These are listed in general order or priority:

1. Control Your Emotions
While it is easy to get very attached to a job or role, remember that it does not define you. The position was the company’s job anyway, not yours, and you only worked there. There will be other work with other companies.

2. Settle up with your old Company
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it a hurry to get out the door (especially if you are emotional) you might forget to submit your last expense report, collect your books and reference materials, etc. Also, don’t forget your potted plant. They can afford to buy their own with the money saved by your departure.

3. Update Resume’, and Send it out Fast
Do this ASAP! Target 48 hours to have your resume’ updated and posted on the top five or so online job boards (i.e. If you have prior relationships with recruiters or headhunters, contact them as well.

4. Sign Up for Unemployment Benefits
I never had this opportunity, but if you are eligible, take the time to wait in line and sign up. This is not welfare; it is government sponsored insurance that YOU have paid into. Now it is the government’s turn to pay you…

5. Re-evaluate your Financial Position
By the time you get home, you have no doubt already done this in your head. However, take time to sit down and re-visit (or create) your budget. Separate your needs from your wants, and do without the wants for a while. The largest expenses are the mortgage (or rent), insurance, utilities, and car notes or other notes. Can these be reduced? What else can you eliminate?

6. Check the secondary or niche’ Job Boards and Help Wanted Ads Online
Sometimes leads are not as obvious or not listed with the big websites.

7. Search Targeted Company Websites
Always wanted to work for Google? Check out their employment page.

8. Network, Network, Network
This is arguably the most important step in the list. Networking includes not only recruiters and HR people; it also includes friends, family, former colleagues, casual contacts, and basically anyone who will listen.

Attend networking events and job fairs with resume’s and personal business cards in hand.

Post your need for employment on sites like and . I found my current position using LinkedIn, when a recruiter spotted my profile and experience!

9. Cultivate List of Recruiters, HR Consultants, and Agents
As you meet people along the way to your next position, be sure to put them in your contact list for future use.

10. Keep Track of The Process
* Leads
* Companies Contacted
* Resume’s Sent Out

11. Don’t Raid Investments, or run up Credit Cards
Sometimes this is necessary, but do so only as a last resort.

12. Keep Your Insurance
You are the most vulnerable now, as is your family or dependents. You might consider raising deductibles to lower your payments, but keep all of your insurance in full effect.

13. Get Some extra Training
Now is a great time to take a short course on some new skill or technology; plus, it’ll look good on your resume’.

14. Keep Yourself Occupied
Don’t sleep late everyday and watch TV, get out in the world. See #8 above.

15. Success is in the Follow-Up
Any good salesperson will tell you this; most folks are easily discouraged and give up. Follow up interviews with calls and a personal, hand-written thank you. Hiring managers are busy and distracted. The follow up could tilt the scales in your favor.

Good luck in finding your next job (or contract). Remember, creation is an act of shear will. If all else fails, start a new company with a great business model, borrow money in the company’s name, and conquer the world!
JM Kelly, The IT Entrepreneur

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