I just got laid off, due to the impact of the pandemic on the company’s business. How do I prioritize my job search? I know I should be working on my resumé/portfolio, building my social media presence, networking, etc. etc. – but it’s all so overwhelming, I don’t know where to start. My former employer has been generous with providing me access to a consultant for three months—should contacting them be my first move?
Well, I just got laid off, so this is a timely question.
This has been my process here at the beginning. It’s not complete, but it’ll get you going:
(1) Grieve. My first impulse is to go into fix-it mode, but I’ve found that if I have to give myself some time—in this case, it took me about five days—to step back, freak out, cry, get angry, go on rage walks, and watch stupid television. Otherwise, my mind isn’t clear enough to focus on what needs to happen next.
(2) Yes, reach out to that consultant, because they can help you map the rest of the path forward.
(3) Reach out to your network. I posted about my layoff on social media. The support that has poured in has been staggering. It has helped me both emotionally and practically.
(4) Update that resume and have someone with a laser eye and a blunt mouth review it with you. It’s brutal, but so necessary. Yes, we’re professional communicators, but that doesn’t mean we’re the best at presenting ourselves. Imposter syndrome—it’s a thing.
(5) Make a list of what you want in your next job and—this is important—what you don’t want in your next job. When looking at a prospective job, fear can make us think we’ll be OK putting up with things that actually we’re not at all OK with. Get that list clear in your head and use it as a touchstone as you start reviewing the possibilities.
(6) Make some contingency plans. Are there things you can do right now to bolster your financial cushion so that you can get by if you don’t find another job right away? Can you delay some rent/mortgage payments? Take on a roommate? Winnow out some unnecessary expenses?
Yes! Your first step is to reach out to the consultant. They should be able to help you make a plan. Also, you can do a “brain dump” and capture all of your ideas for actions to take. Then break each one down into bite-sized steps.
For example, instead of writing on your list, “build up social media profile” (overwhelming!), make a list under that with things like:
- Google best-practices for LinkedIn profile.
- Email 2 past colleagues for recommendations.
- Write down 3 ideas for an article to post on LinkedIn
Add a few small steps to your to-do list every day, and every week those small steps will add up to big progress!
Glib as this sounds, the first action I would suggest is getting a mentor, someone with whom you can take a step back moment, brainstorm without judgement, and come up with a plan. The plan might include taking your company up on the offer of a coach.
As a member of WCA, then you have peer mentors ready and willing to listen and guide. You can also look at the people around you who usually support you and see if someone might be appropriate, then ask them.
We’re all being challenged right now. However, no matter when, we all like being asked for our advice and feeling like we are being helpful.
I am so sorry you have lost your job. In times like this, urgency and anxiety can take over. Apply for every job! Talk to every contact! Jump on every media platform! It is easy to burn out without getting anywhere.
So yes, take advantage of the consultant to help you identify your strengths and goals. Use her professional skills to develop an overall strategy and a logical action plan. Make sure the plan is manageable and work it daily.
Take advantage of the consultant’s expertise and connections while keeping your goals in clear focus to avoid rabbit holes that don’t pay off.
Good luck, and please call on the help of a WCA mentor if you need someone else to talk to.