unthinkable has happened! You knew they were cutting costs,
sales projections were down, and second round funding didn't
come through, but you didn't really expect it to come to
this, did you? You're in good company - one of among the
hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the United States
who have recently received their proverbial "pink slip."
the shock and grief may linger for a while yet, but it's
now time to force yourself to focus on the future by taking
the following steps:
up a workspace in your home where you can focus on your
job search or career change. Even if you have office space
at the Outplacement Center, that will go away eventually
and you'll need "Mission Central" established
at home. Supply yourself with the following:
A computer and printer. If you don't
have them, borrow them.
Contact management software or 5x7 index
cards for tracking contact information.
ACT is a very good software program to
track all your contacts, notes, follow-up
Subscription to your local Business
Dictionary so you don't misspell anything
Quality paper, envelopes, and stamps
Business cards with your name, contact
information, and area of specialty (purchasing,
manufacturing operations, mechanical engineering,
etc.). Don't make the mistake of printing
these on your home computer - it screams
The usual pens, pencils, stapler, etc.
a list with the contact information of everyone else who
was laid off at the same time. Since these folks will be
uncovering leads, it's smart to stay in touch with them
so you can hear about the "hot prospects" and
pursue their cast-offs. Certain members of this peer group
may also be a good support network. Affiliate with those
who are positive, organized, and taking action. You don't
need to spend time with those who won't climb out of the
a list of all the people you know. It's a huge task, so
break it down into categories: church, homeowners associations,
professional associations, children's friend's parents,
relatives, neighbors, etc. You should have at least 100
people on your list. Don't filter anyone out based on criteria
like, they live out of state, or she's "just"
go back through your list and highlight all the people who
seem to know everyone. They are the 'connectors' of this
world and they are the people you want to approach first.
They are the ones who can refer you to others once they
know what you need. Most viable leads come from the third
Out What You Want to Be When You Grow
is everyone's dream! Put in the time to take some personality
and interest assessments to clarify your preferences. (There
is no reason why you have to end up in yet another unrewarding
job!) List all the reasons why you liked or disliked previous
jobs and draw some correlations to your assessment results.
those who do what you'd like to do. Ask them questions like:
Why do you enjoy this type of work?
What surprised you the most about this
field or industry?
What do you wish you knew before you
got into this line of work?
What advice would you give to someone
What would force you to get out of this
type of work?
Where do you see the industry/career
heading in the future?
a Professional Association
waste any time on this one. Go to the library and look up
the Directory of Associations. Find a few that fit with
your industry or career, then connect with the local chapter
and begin attending meetings. Volunteer to help out or get
on the Board. The relationships you forge through this avenue
will last a lifetime and the educational rewards are invaluable.
a Field Marshall
need someone who is on your side no matter what. It could
be a spouse or a close friend and preferably is someone
who has been through this process themselves. This person
should be able to pep you up when you need it and talk to
you straight when they see you goofing off. They should
not place judgments on the type of work you are looking
for unless they see you pursuing ads that promise: "Work
from home and make $100,000!"
should check in with this person at least twice a week to
report on your progress and brainstorm new strategies. They
should ask for quantifiable numbers to assess your effort
and results. For example: "How many networking meetings
did you have this week?"
an Action Plan
worst thing you can do is sit at your desk in "Mission
Central" researching on the computer all day! Often,
people prefer to hide out for a while, rather than risk
actually getting out and meeting people.
your day and week according to activities, which should
include a percentage of time for:
- Research prospects. This includes online research
as well as visiting their site in person. (Ask for a copy
of their annual report, observe how employees treat each
other and how they talk about their employer when they're
- Meet with networking contacts and interviewing (formal
- Read business journals and trade magazines
- Answer newspaper job ads, internet postings, or cold
- Participate in your professional association
- Volunteer within your community
Back to School
a skill you don't have and find a class to take! You don't
necessarily have to sign up for an extensive degree program
- it could be a 15-week course at a Community College. It
gets you out of the house, stretches your brain, and introduces
you to a new circle of people.
a Line in the Sand
in advance the type of work environment you need, the salary
range you are looking for based on the job responsibilities
(not based on what you need!), the perks you'd like, and
the type of people you want to work with. Knowing this information
will help you say "no" to the wrong things
sometimes the most difficult part of looking for work!
is your opportunity to take up fly fishing, horseback riding,
take your spouse to the Canadian Rockies, or build that
canoe you've always dreamed of. Don't let this time slip
by without having a little fun along the way. It will help
to ease the stress of looking for work and who knows, you
may even meet some people who can connect you with the job
of your dreams!
1974, Laura Benjamin has helped hundreds of laid off workers,
career changers, ex-military and early retirees cut their
job search time in half! She speaks internationally on Careers,
Management Development, and Small Business Building Strategies
and her work is featured in national media, from radio and
television to Remodeling Magazine, Fitness, and Managing
Partner. The audiotape set, "Layoff First Aid"
and her FREE newsletters are available on her website.
President, Colorado Springs Society for Human Resource Management