Just before the holidays in 2017, I took a paid day off from work to spend time with my daughters. The plan: to enjoy quality time with my girls with a trip to the pumpkin patch. I set aside my work phone and made a point not to check it until later in the afternoon. I enjoyed a much-needed beautiful fall day with my lovely girls.
When I went to check my work phone later that day, the lock screen was filled with text messages and missed calls. My manager was trying to reach me, his voicemail message urgently requested I return his call. It turned out that he was desperately trying to reach me before I heard the bad news (no pun intended) on television.
His voice was calm yet heavy with the unpleasant task of being the bearer of bad news. “Our company is closing its doors permanently. Everyone is being laid off.” My stomach fell out from underneath me. Later that week I would experience my first ulcer. I received a formal letter with a date of my last day of work. I would be on unemployment before Thanksgiving.
As if I didn’t already know how unstable life could be, this experience validated the fact that there are so many things in life that are out of your control. So, I accepted my situation, and began to quickly focus on things that were within my control.
I replaced sinking self-pity with empathy, and extended an offer of help to the other 200 employees floating in the same large boat with me. Many of my fellow laid-off employees had worked at the same employer for 10 to 20-plus years. Most did not have a LinkedIn account, and many needed a resume. I offered my writing services to any who wanted help writing a resume. I must have created at least 20. Luckily the local unemployment office had resume writing resources, because I’m quite sure I would have hit resume-writing burnout before long.
I went through the cumbersome unemployment process, and simultaneously began the job hunt. I would submit easily a dozen resumes per day. Applying to jobs became my full-time job. I used every job search site, had several phone interviews, then in-person interviews, and accepted a new gig just before Christmas.
I would not say my way is the best way. Looking back, I wish I did not put so much pressure on myself. So while I give the below advice, I will preface it with this: BREATHE, and take it one day at a time. Do not stress yourself out. It will not serve you well and it could lead to making a poor decision. You will get through this and you will find the right job in the right time. So again, Breathe.
Last year’s holiday season taught me a great deal. I am not in the habit of taking anything for granted, but with respect to my job, I have a few quick points I would like to make for ANYONE else out there who may be facing a similar circumstance.
1. Always be prepared.
Do not get complacent at your job. It’s always a GREAT idea to keep your resume up-to-date. It is good practice to slap on a few descriptive bullet points to your latest resume with key functions you are doing at your job right now. Jot down noteworthy moments where you shine. It is so difficult to remember those magical moments when you are putting yourself on the spot 3 or 5 or 10 years later. Keep a word doc or excel spreadsheet squirreled away with a catalog of bullet points – keep it current- you will thank yourself later on.
2. Create a LinkedIn Profile.
If you do not have a LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on one of the best, free networking applications on the internet. Create a profile on LinkedIn and then begin looking for old colleagues, classmates, friends, and start connecting with all of them.
If you already have a LinkedIn (LI) account and it’s sitting dormant somewhere on the web, stop what you are doing, access your account, and blow the dust off of it. You need to beef up your LI profile, stat. You can do this with three key things: connecting (with people you worked with, went to school with, or did business with at any level), update your employment details on your profile (this is a living resume), and asking colleagues and friends for endorsements. Endorsements are super helpful- so don’t be bashful. It doesn’t hurt to endorse others as well- many will reciprocate the kindness. If you have questions about ANY of this- please leave them in the comments section. I will respond to all of them.
3. Throw a WIDE net!
Right now there are so many online resources to apply for jobs. I am partial to LinkedIn due the success I’ve experienced. I like the ease of their user interface, and how my profile doubles as a online portfolio. With all of that said, I encourage you to use ALL the websites: Indeed, Monster, Craigslist (with caution), and ask friends or colleagues for their recommendations or sites of choice.
Additionally, do your homework on all potential employers. Glassdoor is a GREAT resource for this. I wish I knew about Glassdoor years ago. It would have saved me from working at a very toxic employer. Glassdoor allows people to provide anonymous feedback about their employer. You can learn about salaries, benefits, the interview process, and specific complaints or praises.
I know this blog post barely scratches the surface with regards to unemployment. If you are finding yourself out of work right now, please know you have resources. If you are a veteran in need of work, there are so may organizations centered on placing veterans in jobs. I will be providing some links to resources below. PLEASE leave a comment if you have any questions for me! I am happy to answer questions about my unemployment experience and how I found my job quickly after being laid off last year.
Ironically, this blog post is inspired by the unsteady climate of my current employer. I just hit my 1-year mark and in the last few weeks my employer has laid off several people, and “partially” laid off the remainder. Odd, right? Apparently it’s a thing. Hourly employees have been informed they can only work 32 hours, and they will get unemployment for the 8 hours they do not work. As I am a salary employee they could not reduce me to 32-hours per week, so instead, I received a 10% pay cut. Still, I’m incredibly grateful to have a job.
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