Once you are out of work, the first inclination is to grab at anything that comes along. While the job market is not great, it pays to take some time and find a good fitting job.
Apply For Unemployment
If you are laid off through no fault of your own, you live in the U.S., and you work full-time, you are probably eligible for unemployment. While probably nowhere near what you were making before, it is at least some income coming in. Employers pay into this fund, and it is used to support workers as they look for new work. You can find out your state’s requirements by searching the internet.
My state required that I fill out a form online. They then checked to make sure how long I had been employed, what I had been making, and my eligibility requirements. (Note: it turns out in my state that unless you are a full-time worker and seeking full-time work, you are not eligible for unemployment).
Each state will have different requirements for you to meet to keep receiving the money. Generally you are going to have to search for jobs, and be able to prove that you did. Keep good records of who you talk to and when.
Decide What You Want
Take some time to think about what you want to do. Do you want a different work environment, smaller or larger? How about the work itself? Do you want to change fields? Think about what your ideal job would be, including the pay, working environment, location and hours.
I considered if I wanted to keep programming, or go into project management, or change fields entirely by going for my teaching certification.
Make Sure You Are Employable
If your skills are out of date, update them. Take online classes, check books out from the library, use the web to find tutorials. The more recently your skills have been used, and the more up-to-date those skills are, the more valuable you will be to potential employers.
Decide What You Will Accept
Economic times are tough. Expecting that you will have a choice of jobs with the same hours, benefits and wages is unrealistic. Do some thinking to decide what the minimum is you will accept. It may be that you prefer a smaller salary in a more stable company to a big salary in an industry that is shaky.
For me, staying part time was the number one consideration. I realized I might have to go back to work full time; but part time is the best option for my family. I was lucky. I got the part time. I paid for it in a 30% reduction from what I was making before.
Polish Your Résumé
There are numerous articles and sites out there about how to put together a CV, or polish one you have. The two rules for writing résumés that have served me well are:
A resume that says “implemented streamlined order process” doesn’t have the punch that “implemented new order process that reduced order returns by 75%” does. The more specific and measurable you can be in your skills, the more attention you will get.
Don’t List What You Won’t Do
Unless you absolutely have to, leave off outdated skills, or things you don’t ever want to do again. In my case as a programmer, there are outdated languages in my skill set. There is still a demand, but the work is drudgery. I leave them off the CV.
Remember your résumé is a fluid document. You don’t have to finalize it and get it professionally printed as was done 30 years ago. Alter your résumé to each job you apply for, and for the changing circumstances.
Sign Up For Online Job Services
There are a multitude of online job services out there that can help you search for and apply for jobs. Most of the services will also allow employers to search resumes. The two I used are Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Be specific in your profile: if you are not willing to relocate, indicate that. If you have a security clearance, make sure it is known.
Also make sure you use a professional-looking email address. It might be fine to have “CutiePie” as your regular email address, but it looks better to have an email address somewhat related to your name. Set up a free email account to implement this, if you have to.
One thing to note: people picking up your CV off these services might not read them, or may use them when they are out of date. In the past month, in spite of the fact that my CV is no longer active on the job boards, I have had one firm try to recruit me twice for a job I already hold. Three out of the last five contacting me ignored my preference for part time work. Be up front with these companies.
Tell everyone that you are looking for work. You never know when an opportunity could present itself. This includes former co-workers, friends, acquaintances, fellow members of organizations.
I had an old friend ask me for my résumé, to pass through her son-in-law and into a programming company that was hiring.
Embrace the Time
True, if you have been laid off, you are going to be stressed. But take some time to enjoy it. I loved walking the dog after getting my daughter on the school bus. I enjoyed going to the library and browsing. I cleared out my backlog of projects, and jump-started others. Simply because I finally had time to do all the things I said I would do “if I ever had time”.
Being thrown out of a job can be traumatic, but by taking decisive action, you will increase your chances of getting a new job. Even if you’ve been out of the job market for a while, job hunting doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Photo by stephentrepreneur
Articles In The Series:
- Dealing With A Job Loss: Getting Through The First Few Days
- Dealing with a Job Loss: Cutting Back Expenses
- Dealing With a Job Loss: Redistributing Home Work Loads
- Dealing With A Job Loss: Starting the Job Hunt