Without warning, you’ve lost your job. Maybe it was due to layoffs, poor job performance, or politics. Whatever the reason, you have no time to lose. You must start working on getting a new job now.
Here are a few tips to help you do just that:
- Begin with the contacts you should have been building your entire career. Reach out to former professors, bosses, and coworkers, and to others in your industry, your professional association, and family and friends. Don’t be shy. Let them know you’re in the market for new employment. These types of connections can be critical to helping you get new employment fast. I know of a former assistant college professor, who, after being denied tenure, quickly found high-paying employment after a college colleague sung his praises to the potential employer. A moral of this story: Strong work relationships can lead to employment opportunities down the line.
- You may need to pull up stakes and move far away from your current home. If there is no chance your former company will put you back on the payroll, start casting your job-seeking net everywhere you can. This is not the time to be picky. Sometimes to get employed at your same level, or higher, you have to move. Back to the former assistant professor from the previous example: His new job required him to move nearly 800 miles away. He was a middle-aged breadwinner with a wife and kids, and this new potential employer was welcoming him with heaps of enthusiasm (which his former employer hadn’t). This new job also offered security for himself and his family; and he knew that given his age and experience, he wouldn’t get an offer much better than this one. He took the position and pulled up stakes.
- Consider job opportunities you would have previously dismissed. I know someone who, after being fired from his corporate job for an unfortunate, unintended mistake, took a tremendous cut in pay to work for a nonprofit. He’d been unemployed for many months and had lost out to contenders for other jobs before the nonprofit offered him a low-paying, part-time position. The part-time job took a little financial pressure off of him as he continued his pursuit for better employment. It also made him appear as a more valuable job candidate, because the position filled what would have been a time gap on his resume and gave him experience in another industry.
- Create your own opportunities. If you’re suddenly unemployed, now may be the time to begin freelancing even though you’re continuing to look for other employment. Say you were let go from a newspaper reporting job: You can still get paid to write articles and other content for outlets while continuing to send out resumes for full-time employment. Or perhaps you were a painter for a company, but now that you’re no longer employed, you can pick up a few clients of your own as you continue to look for full-time work. The upside of these scenarios: You’re being paid and making connections for what could potentially become full-time jobs.
- Stay positive. It can be difficult to stay positive when you suddenly don’t have a job, but “difficult” doesn’t mean “impossible.” Positivity is important and may help you land a new job more quickly. If you go in to interviews feeling negative, that feeling can ooze through your words and actions. An interviewer is more likely to bring back a positive candidate for a second round of interviews—and possibly a job—than a candidate who seems down.
So, if you’re ever unemployed, I hope you’ll find these tips useful in landing a new job. It’s all part of careering.