I was fired a couple of years ago. It doesn’t matter if you call it fired, laid off, down sized, or asked to resign. It still feels like being fired. Recently most of my friends from my old job were laid off. Some were given a few months to finish out their jobs, others were escorted out of the building immediately. These next few articles are for them, and for me, and possibly for you. Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned through my experience. I’ve come out the other side. It wasn’t luck, it was a process. I’m pretty extroverted, so some of what I did might strike fear in your heart. Use what you can. I’m not you.
Who Are You?
As strange as it sounds, if you are unemployed, you are now in the marketing field. Your primary job is to market yourself to potential employers. The first step is to find your brand, your identity. This is where the introverts shout, “But I just want a job!” Let’s start painlessly with what you can do.
You have skills you don’t recognize as “skills.” If you are in a tech field, list all the operating systems you can use and your skill levels. Do you work primarily on a Windows platform? Do you use it simply to get into software, or do you troubleshoot and configure hardware, software, and network settings? It doesn’t matter if you were paid to do this, or if you have a Linux box in your basement. List the skills. Then list your software, even if it’s old software, especially if it’s obscure. List all your programming languages, even if they’re not the hot ones. List everything and get it on LinkedIn. Put the stuff you enjoy doing most at the top of your list (you can drag and drop skills). Get them on your resume.
Once you see your skills in front of you, look at the list in terms of what you enjoy doing. If you can setup a printer remotely, but it fills you with dread, shift your identity, your brand, away from that skill. We have all picked up what I like to call “survival skills.” These are things you do, because you have to. It’s okay to leave these skills behind, or to use them in a different context.
Where do You Want to Be?
When I worked with Cindy Kaliff at Career and Life Options, she asked me to make a list of companies I thought would be good places to work. Do that now. You’ve already heard things through the grapevine or in the news. Use your intuition. If you’ve always wanted to work for Google, put Google on your list. If you’ve heard good things about TalentPlus, put that company on your list. Think big. Think small. Just think anything is possible. And remember companies like Apple have a number of remote employees. Dreaming big doesn’t always mean selling your house and moving to a different part of the world.
Once you have your list, start paying attention to the people in your personal network. You might be surprised to see you have some sort of connection to a company. If you do, start up a conversation. Ask them what they like and dislike about being there. Ask if they have any jobs opening up. If a door seems to close, you will probably find you either didn’t want to be there, or the opportunity will come later. Sometimes you have to go through the healing process of letting go of your old job, before the perfect opportunity presents itself.
Find Your Tribe
No one is in this alone. If you are one of many who were laid off at the same time, this is the time to work together to find new work. You will all benefit from meeting on a regular basis, looking at each other’s skill sets, resumes, brands. You might be competing for similar jobs, but a group can make you feel accountable for your job search.
If you’re going this alone, start exploring some professional groups in your area. Get to know people in your field. Chat them up. Where do they work? Do they like it there? Get in there and mingle. Get yourself known in a good way. People find the best jobs through networking. Look at these gatherings as fun. Never get drunk, if there’s alcohol. Don’t bad mouth your former employer. But let yourself enjoy the company of other professionals.