Wednesday, February 29, 2012

From the Article Archive: I Just Got Laid Off

I just got laid off. I know I am supposed to network, but what are some other things to do to secure my next position?

Jo Miller answers:

Jerri Barrett, Vice President of Marketing for the Anita Borg Institute, is a walking encyclopedia of common and uncommon tips for marketing yourself during a job hunt.

Jerri says, “Remember that your job when you are unemployed is finding a job. Carry your updated clean resume with you everywhere. And mention to everyone you talk to that you are job hunting.”

Jerri used this approach to find a job through a friend in book group. “I told the whole group I was looking and gave them copies of my resume. One person went home, checked her company’s corporate job postings, found a job, and sent in my resume to both HR and the hiring manager. I had a job in less than two weeks—it’s how I moved to California.”

Seize the opportunity to reinvent and reenergize
Taking a flexible approach allowed Nehal Mehta, now Director QA at Netapp, to capitalize on a layoff as an unexpected opportunity. She immediately seized on the situation as a way to reenergize her career and move into a new area of focus. Within three weeks of leaving her previous employer, Nehal landed a consulting gig in a turnaround so fast that she had barely had time to update her resume.

Stay resilient and optimistic
Jerri Barrett recommends planning time to do something that you enjoy every day or week.

“During one period of job hunting, my boyfriend and I would make a date to walk up to our local library each Saturday. We’d browse through books, check out the houses in the neighborhood—it was like going shopping but not spending money.”

Set targets and hold yourself accountable
While we all know the importance of networking, Jerri and Nehal held themselves accountable by setting targets while job hunting.

Jerri Barrett advises those in transition, “Set a 'work' schedule and stick to it. Create goals for yourself—sending out 10 resumes a week and making 5 phone calls per day, for example. Remember it’s your job so if you get the job done feel free to go do something fun.”

Nehal Mehta described a similar level of focus. “The week after I was laid off, I had lunch and two coffee meetings every day. I made ten LinkedIn connections a day. I approached my contacts and told them what I was looking for.”

Conventional wisdom says you can’t find a job in December or over the holidays, but Nehal found that her contacts were readily available to meet for lunch or coffee during the break.

Know what the market wants
Going against the advice of some well-meaning supporters, Nehal said, “I did not spend all my energy looking for that next full-time position. I pursued something that many people may not be willing to settle for—consulting.”

Her reasoning was that approaching companies as a consultant reduces barriers to starting work rapidly, benefitting both herself and the employer.

“For every job, there were 100 other candidates just as well qualified, and you must really then negotiate much harder for the job, level, and salary. So I approached a company with an opening for a full-time position and said, 'I’ll take this on as a consulting assignment'. This allowed them to take me on right away. It was less of a commitment on their side and on mine. This got me into a new space, working with a completely new technology, and loving it!”

Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, Inc. Women's Leadership Coaching, Inc. provides a roadmap for women who want to break into leadership positions in business, with individual coaching programs, seminars and webinars.

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