I was once asked, “When you get laid off which is more important, to start networking or spend a week writing your résumé?” I thought this was a great question but believe jobseekers need to think of other important activities after they’ve lost their job.
Below are some of the must do’s for people who are starting their job search. You’ll note that dusting off your résumé and networking are far down the list of priorities.
1. Take time to regroup. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do when starting your job search. It’s also something people neglect to, instead jumping right into the hunt the same day they’re laid off.
Conversely, some people wait too long to begin the search, considering this a time to take a “vacation.” You may see losing your job during the summer to take that vacation you never took during the year. Don’t. Take a week to group at most.
2. Evaluate your frame of mind. Understand that unemployment can play emotional havoc on your psyche and may require seeking professional help. Many of my customers have shared with me their despondency and even depression after being laid off or let go.
These feelings are not unusual, but if they persist, seek the help of a professional. No, commiserating with a former colleague doesn’t help. Surround yourself with positive people, not negative ones.
3. Think about what you want to do. Now is the time to think about what you really want to do, not what you feel comfortable doing. People may advise you to jump back into marketing, or finance, or nursing; but if it isn’t what you want to do, don’t pursue an occupation you no longer enjoy.
When I was laid off, I realized that I wanted to change my career. Deciding what I wanted to do was one of my top priorities. I had direction. Without direction, you’re like aimlessly driving a car driving around with no destination. Your job search will be longer.
4. Develop a plan. You have direction, know what you want to do. Now you need to determine what you have to do to reach that goal. Start with small steps, such as conducting one job-search activity a day, and build up to three a day.
Eventually you’ll start planning out each day to include job-search activities like networking, engaging on LinkedIn, contacting recruiters, following up on your networking meetings, using the Internet (sparingly), contacting your alumni association, etc.
5. Be dedicated to your job search. Determining your direction could take some contemplation, especially if you’re changing your career. Once you’ve decided on path you want to take, dedicate all you effort to getting there.
Is it necessary to spend 40+ hours on your job search I ask my workshop attendees. I don’t thing so. More like 25-30 hours of smart job seeking is more like it. And remember, you’re looking for work seven days a week.
6. Assess your greatest skills. This is tough for many people, especially those who have a hard time promoting themselves, so solicit the help of others with whom you worked or know in your daily life.
Create a list of your strongest skills and accomplishments. These will make good fodder for your new and improved résumé. As well, you’ll be able to talk about them with ease, naturally.
7. Begin telling everyone you know—everyone. That’s right, everyone. You may think your sister in New York would never know of opportunities in Boston, but you never know who she may know who knows someone in Boston.
Don’t focus only on the people with whom you worked; you’re limiting your reach. Start attending networking events if you feel comfortable; it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s important that others know about your situation, so they can help you in your job search.
8. Dust off the résumé. Ideally you should have been updating your résumé while working, but we know how work demands leave little time to do this, and when we return from a hard day of work we have little if any energy to work on our résumé.
Now that you’ve done your labor market research: have an idea what you want to do, the projected growth of the industry in which you want to join, where the jobs will exist; it’s time to ramp up your résumé big time.
9. Get on LinkedIn. With all the articles written about the effectiveness of LinkedIn, you should know by now that most employers—approximately 95%—are culling talent on LinkedIn.
Take the time to do it right, though. Create a powerful profile and be active by updating often, joining and participating in groups, sending invites, etc. I advise my customers to use LinkedIn’s publishing feature as a way to show their expertise and become a thought leader.
10. Get out of the house. Your style might lean more toward attending networking groups, professional affiliations, volunteering, or using your local library’s computers (even if you have your own). Don’t forget your local One-Stop career center that offers you resources and training and education.
Please don’t sit behind your computer six hours a day sending out resumes through job boards. Go where people are, even if it’s to just sit near them. Isolation can be a terrible thing. Get out of the house!
11. Step up your exercising or begin exercising. Nothing is better for the mind than improving your physical condition. You don’t have to join a club. Simply walk every morning or do yoga. Make sure you get up at the same time you rose from bed when you were working. Do not let your routine slip.
When I was unemployed, I increased my walking from 45 minutes to 90 or more. It helped me to clear my mind and release frustration. It was also cheaper than joining a gym.
12. Develop your company list. You’re now in a good position to figure out what type of companies for which you’d like to work. Identifying the companies can help you with your research on them and career possibilities.
Your list will also come in handy when networking with jobseeker groups and informational contacts. People need to know where you’d like to work in order to help you.
13. Start knocking on companies’ doors. Use your company list to be proactive by approaching growing companies either by sending an approach letter introducing yourself to them or literally visiting your companies.
Richard Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute, asserts that your chance of getting a job is 47% if you use this method alone.
The list of must do’s could be endless, but it’s important to keep in mind the important actions needed to properly start your job search. If you are having difficulty getting motivated, speak to close friends, relatives, or trained job-search professionals who can help you with this serious problem. Motivation is required in order to put our plan into action.
Photo: Andreas Gessl, Flickr