Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What To Do When You Get Laid Off

I have been laid off twice in the last 3 years. There was a time when having a specific skillset (like being a Systems Administrator) would keep you under the radar for such things.
Not anymore.
In the new “American Dream” there is no such thing as security. Notice I wrote when you get laid off, not if.
Your bosses don’t care about you. They care about protecting themselves first. You may not even be a clear second. They may care more about keeping the janitorial staff. I apologize now if you are on that staff, I don’t think you are any less important.
All companies are thinking of how to cut the bottom line and look good for the next shareholder meetings.
  1. Don’t burn bridges.  I know it sounds great to remote into your old job, (because they forgot to terminate your access) and change all the root passwords to every domain server. Don’t do it. Just because you were part of a lay off doesn’t mean you won’t need their help in getting your next job. You might even have some of the same bosses there. If word gets out that you are “that guy” that can’t be trusted you are finished.
  2. Update your social media accounts. In the new social world, you have to get the word out that you are available to take on your next engagement. Engage your social circle and let them know you are looking. It is possible someone wants to hire you but your page shows “currently employed” and they don’t want to bug you. People won’t know you are looking if you don’t.
  3. Update Your Resume. Make sure your resume is not from a template with weird formatting, and is compatible with Office 2003, most companies have not upgraded and won’t. You might want to even have a plain text copy handy. If you haven’t been on the job market in a while you will soon notice that no one really wants to read your resume. If it doesn’t fall into a specific key word search or have the exact application they are looking for you won’t get a second look. Even your email address can get you into the “do not call back” pile. So get rid of that evilgirl69@hotmail account and get one with “your name” at Gmail or Outlook, or using your own domain if you are into web design, software development etc.
  4. Brand Yourself. Guess what? Everyone in IT can use Microsoft Office and change a stick of bad ram. But can everyone program in Java using a RESTful API? No of course not. You have to show that you have your own niche of knowledge. Create your brand and sell it. “I am a Business Analyst in the Casino field in charge of new Product Development.”
  5. Contact The Agencies. You may have never thought of working contract before but companies are less likely to hire someone Full-Time without a “Try and Buy” period. It is easier to see how you work if you are just working, and are not a new Full-Time employee with benefit meetings and sexual harassment training seminars on your work schedule. Call your local IT or other Agencies and see what they have available.
  6. Register for Unemployment. It will take up to 2 weeks to get any new income coming in from unemployment if you are qualified. So start this as soon as possible and use Job Connect if available in your state to see what jobs you qualify for. They have positions listed that won’t be on any website or newspaper.
  7. Make Finding a Job Your New Job. People are more comfortable when they have a routine. There is less stress when you wake up knowing you have to take a shower, get dressed, get coffee and go to work. So you need to keep a routine. Instead of driving to a job, you will be looking for employment or scheduling an interview during your day. You should also try to meet with someone you haven’t seen for a year for lunch. You won’t have this opportunity again for a while. I volunteered once a week at a food bank, this was added to my calendar and I stuck to it. If I was talking to a new prospective employer and the interview time interfered, I would let them know I was volunteering at that time and we would have to reschedule. This leads to.
  8. Clean Up Your Home Office. If you don’t have one, make one. This is where you will be during the day making appointments and sending emails to HR managers. This should be a quiet place set away from the rest of the house; it should be free of dogs barking when the mailman arrives or other distractions. Make sure you have all the things you needed at your office if possible. You will be asked to sign and email back forms, and fill out online applications.
  9. Cancel Memberships You Don’t Use. Still paying for Netflix and not using it? A gym membership or other monthly re-occurring account? Close them. You can always start them up again after you start getting paid.
  10. You Will Find Something. There are still jobs to be had out there. If you are new to the market it will be harder than someone who has experience. But someone wants to hire you. Remember that this exercise is to get you the next job, not the best job. It might turn into that, but you are looking to get the next job first.
Remember not to ask “why did this happen to me,” it’s not about you personally. Companies are riddled with debt and are looking to cut the bottom line. Payroll is the biggest expenditure. So it is only natural that lay-offs are the biggest savings to a company’s shareholders.
Hopefully you won’t need this list, but you probably will. I just hope that it keeps you focused on getting to the next job, where your new boss will probably hate you.