Every day, I talk with someone who just got laid-off and now they don’t know where to begin their job search. When asked, most of them say they saw the writing on the wall weeks or even months before the layoff. If you hear grumblings about potential layoffs, prepare yourself now. Here are a few thoughts on where to start:
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Right now…before you lose your job, think about your next career direction. If you came to work tomorrow and the doors were locked shut, would you want to find the same job you have now or would you want to do something different? All too often, I talk with job seekers who lost their job…need a job…but don’t know what they want to do. Don’t spend the first 2 or 3 months trying to decide, “What do I want to be, now?” If you think a career change is in order, reach out to those in your network and ask them where they see you. You might get some really eye-opening insights!
2. Words matter…
Your resume has to stand out by focusing on the results and accomplishments of your work. Get rid of all the boilerplate language (“finished projects on-time and under-budget”…”a team-player who can work independently”…). Focus on one or two areas that identify you as a ‘stands along in the field EXPERT’. Provide specific, unique and brief examples about your accomplishments.
3. Put the Internet to work for you!
The perfect time to build your online profile on social networking sites (LinkedIn and Facebook, for starters) is before you need it. Just keep it professional! Think of these online profiles as addendums to your resume. Use the headline and byline space you’re given in these profiles to create an eye-catching profile that will stand out from the rest. How will you know if yours stands out? Look up 20 of your friends’ profiles and read their headline. Now write one that’s better.
4. Start connecting!
While you’re still on the job, reach out to colleagues, managers, vendors and clients via your sharp and engaging LinkedIn or Facebook profile. Now that it’s up and running, make it work for you by inviting people to connect with you. These sites have easy-to-follow search functions that make finding former classmates or colleagues easy to find.
5. Don’t hide behind your computer!
In addition to online networking, make sure to make as many personal connections as possible. Take a colleague out to coffee or sign up for those industry networking events. Try to schedule at least one a week. Doing this will strengthen your connections and open yourself to unforeseen opportunities.
6. Who loves ya, baby?
It’s now time to build up your references list. You’ll need anywhere between four and six folks who are knowledgeable and positive about your work ethic and skills. One or two bosses, a co-worker and a long-term client would make a great list. Don’t overlook the power of LinkedIn testimonials. That’s your online references page – and will be seen before you even get to the interview! Here’s a great tip – the best way to GET a LinkedIn endorsement is to GIVE one, first!
7. You need professional help.
Establishing a long-term relationship with a Recruiter is a really smart idea. An even smarter idea is establishing relationships with two or three recruiters. Never agree to work exclusively with a recruiter – and don’t work with any that would ask. Find good recruiters by asking your colleagues for references, or find them on LinkedIn (and pay attention to how many of their clients have endorsed them!).
8. Stay in the loop!
So…If you had to start looking for a job tomorrow, do you know what companies are hiring? Pay attention to what happens in your industry and your community so that you’ll be able to quickly come up with seven or eight companies who can use someone with your particular skills.
That’s it! Put these tips into practice if you think you’ll be starting a job-search soon. Trust me, you’ll be ahead of the pack!