There are typically two responses post-job loss, inertia and action imperative. I know that I lean more towards the action end of the spectrum because it helps with my anxiety. If I'm busy doing then I don't have to worry about feeling.
Thankfully, I didn't allow myself to use action as a coping mechanism this time around. I gave myself time (about a week) to think about everything that was happening as well as just eat Chipotle and watch TV.
For me, this time was critical. Without the distraction of 'being productive,' I was forced to confront the feelings of fear, embarrassment, and frustration that came from losing my job. Fortunately, I also got the point of acceptance and even mild excitement about what was to come.
So, after getting past the hard, but necessary, emotional pre-work, I was ready to tackle the practical portion of my job search. There are two areas that I focused on when conducting my job search - LinkedIn and Networking - and the key to both was a clear and comprehensive resume.
The Secrets to a Good Resume
I won't bury the lead the secret to a good resume is a good CV. I know these terms are often used interchangeable, however, I capture everything I've ever done professionally on a CV. From there, based on the role I'm applying for, I can pull the relevant experience into a resume.
To have meaningful items to add to my CV, I don't wait until it's time to update my resume. I started while I was still happily employed with no thoughts of departing from my company.
Every year (every 6 months if I'm on my game) I record all of my major accomplishments. That way, I can demonstrate the value that I'm adding to the organization that I support. The hidden benefit is that this list of items also serves as the perfect input into my CV.
As anyone will tell you, it's not necessarily what you have on your resume, but how it's communicated. So, it was key to focus on how I was communicating my accomplishments, here are the key items that I considered -
✅ What was my result: Increased productivity, saved resources, improved communication?
✅ What was my role: Led, managed, created, influenced?
✅ Why am I sharing: Supports the narrative of my resume, fits the needs of a job description?
Once I had my resume in the bag, it was job hunting time. It wasn't my first time seeking a job online, but it was the first time that it wasn't on my terms. I could feel the pressure I was putting on myself to figure out something, and quickly.
I Love LinkedIn
The heading says it all. In the past, I also used Zip Recruiter for my job searches and had some decent success, but the jobs all came from LinkedIn. Outside of the job search, I also realized that I spent no additional time on Zip Recruiter, so I decided to abandon the platform altogether.
At first glance, LinkedIn may seem intimidating or nuanced in terms of searching for a job, especially now since there is such a huge social/professional component. However, it's a very straightforward engine that only requires a little pre-work.
Here's what I did -
✅ Upload a PDF of my resume: Jobs > applications settings > upload resume
✅ Let recruiters know I was open: Profile page > open to > finding a new job
✅ Create job alerts (based on location, job title): Jobs > job alerts
From there I searched for the roles that I was interested in based on my job alerts and I got daily emails when jobs became available. But, by and large, that's mostly what's happening on the surface. That is, I knew everyone else was doing that as well.
So, I focused on recruiters by searching 'recruiters + job industry' and reached out about my job search. I also have a habit of storing all the emails when recruiters reached out to me so, I sent emails to all those folks letting them know I was on the job market as well.
In the past, this would have been my stopping point. Well, not stopping as much as, this was the process. Recruiters, job postings, applications, interviews, rinse, repeat. But, this time around a game-changer presented itself, Networking.
Networking is Still Undefeated
Right off the bat, I have a love-hate relationship with networking. Networking is like eating vegetables. It's super important and offers a lot of benefits. Most of us don't do it enough. And, you can't get the benefits by doing a whole lot of it last minute.
My key takeaway from networking has always been that I get out of it what I put into it. I've always tried to be mindful of forming good working relationships throughout my career. That's usually the easy part, the hard part is maintaining those relationships.
That's where the hate part of that love-hate relationship I mentioned earlier comes into play. I could blame it on my introversion, and maybe it has a little bit to do with that, but I struggle to meet up or be on the phone...at all. So, here are a couple of strategies I use to compensate -
✅ Texting: It's not a great means of contact, but shooting a colleague a text to see how they are doing still works well.
✅ LinkedIn: Well any social media really, but when your colleague has a milestone, announcement, or post, be sure to engage.
✅ Opportunities: I often get emails from recruiters or companies looking for technical experts, I make sure to forward to any of my colleagues that fit the bill.
All of which brings me to my main point. Investing in your network will yield huge results. I received opportunities quickly after I lost my job purely because my network felt like I would be a good fit. The level of access you can receive from a recommendation cannot be overstated.
These are the foundational strategies that I used during my job searching journey. I tried not to get sucked into the nuance of the most perfected worded resume or trying to force a connection with a distant colleague. I just stuck to this process and it landed me a fantastic new job!