After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Suddenly unemployed? A to-do-today list

This past Friday an acquaintance phoned me in a state of stunned disbelief.  Her employer of over 15 years had terminated her suddenly and without warning.  She was completely taken by surprise, rightfully panicked, and somewhat grief-stricken.
Most people who go to work each day are not worrying about the possibility of a job loss, just as most people dining in a restaurant are not worried about the possibility of salmonella in the salad. This is good.   If we all agonized today about everything that might happen tomorrow, we could not enjoy our work or our meals.  But, as when unexpected digestive problems occur it is nice to have some Pepto Bismol in the house, so when an unexpected job loss occurs, it is nice to have a plan.

So, for all those who find themselves faced with sudden unemployment, I have compiled a short list of my suggestions for the days/week(s) immediately following a job loss:

1.      Immediately assess your termination agreement with your current employer.  Determine the length and amount of any severance package you might have.  Take special heed of your health insurance needs.  You and your family should not be without health insurance for even one day.  If your company provides outplacement services, use them. 

2.     Apply for unemployment benefits without delay.

3.     Discuss your unemployment with your immediate family.  Do not try to spare your spouse and children from anxiety and shoulder the burden alone.  You need the support of your family, and your family needs to understand that a lifestyle change might be forthcoming. 

4.     Assess your financial situation including savings, income, and expenses.  Figure out which expenses can be cut and which can’t. If possible, postpone any dramatic life changes such as a change of housing for at least several months.

5.     Take a personal inventory of your skills, your perceived market value, and your employment goals for the immediate future.  If available, review your skill set with a career advisor or a trusted mentor within your field or a career-oriented field.

6.     Prepare a resume that highlights your most marketable skills.  Have a trusted friend or advisor review your document. 

7.     Post your resume and/or professional profile on every professional and social networking site you are aware of, including LinkedIn and  Facebook profiles, as well as job posting sites. 

8.     Prepare a brief verbal statement about your background and your goals to use for face-to-face and/or phone networking.  Rehearse your statement so you can deliver it to friends and contacts without nervousness.  Be prepared to expand on your brief statement to an interested party.

9.     NOW…you are ready to start the networking process via phone and e-mail, using the above verbal statement of background and career goals.  Start with your closest friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances and work outward.  Look for meaningful job clubs or organizations in your vicinity

10.  Be prepared to approach your job search as your job.  You do not have to work eight hours a day – that would be kidding yourself - but do something every day. Consistent effort is imperative.

11.  Refresh your job search/interviewing skills.  You may be required to interview on a few days’ notice.  I’ve heard there’s a very good book available….
12. And then there's week 2.

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