I have been laid off twice in my life. Both times were painful, yet both led to major leaps forward in my career. I got some great advice during those troubling times, and I want to pass it forward to anyone who is in the same boat right now. Feel free to add more advice in the comments below and forward this post to a friend if you find it useful. Here we go:
Move on. Your new job is to find a new job and it starts now. Every minute you spend wondering “why me?” is a wasted minute. More often than not a layoff decision is based on priorities and fit, not talent or intelligence. So start looking for a new fit with your head held high.
Refresh your resume with successes. Listing responsibilities is not as powerful as describing recent measurable achievements. Follow the Situation / Action / Result format and find a way to quantify what you’ve done. These will also be the stories you tell in your interview, so practice them in advance. Getting your resume into LinkedIn with the right keywords is NOT optional.
Your resume will not pick up the phone and get you an interview. People in your network will. Help your friends help you by doing the research up front on posted openings in their company, then also ask for referrals to their colleagues who may have unlisted openings. And sometimes your friend may have just the right opening for you on their team.
Get out there. Go to association meetings, join a Toastmasters club or take a class. Meet people, ask what they do and really listen. Prepare a short speech on what you’re all about and bring a business card. Staying holed up in your house sending resumes all day is not enough (trust me on this one.)
Start consulting. Immediately call your friends and ask if they know of any short-term projects that need doing. Keep the commitment level low to get in the door, then show ‘em what you can do. Contracting gives the company the ability to “audition” you, and gives you the ability to audition them. The cash and self-esteem feel good too.
Confidence sells. You don’t have to know everything about a new job to be qualified for it. Your abilities to learn, adapt, solve problems and communicate may be more important than “extensive experience.” And by far the most important quality you will be evaluated on is your attitude. So be positive and confident.
The fear, uncertainty and doubt from my layoffs are still vivid memories in my mind. And so are the moments of triumph when I got a fresh start with a new opportunity. I share this out of love for my friends who are about to see a new door open for them. You know who you are. Go find that door and walk through it.