Laid Off? How to Make a Plan to Get Back to Work
Over the years, I’ve engaged with top professionals of diverse professions facing an unplanned layoff due to the economy, market shifts, company downsizing, organizational restructuring, or business closure. Most of these individuals felt stunned when they got the news that they were laid off. Some did not see it coming and many were unprepared for a job search.
Common questions from recently laid off workers:
1. How do I best commence a job search?
2. What modern job search strategies should I be aware of and employ?
3. Where can I get current information and assistance?
The answer to these questions can vary from person to person and situation to situation, but some common themes and strategies apply. The key to starting a job search is to make a plan and get started.
Many people rightly need time to process things when they are first laid off. That is ok. Take time to clear your head.
But eventually, a plan needs to be made and executed. When ready, you want to put together a list of goals and actions to help you focus your job search and move forward with landing a new job. If you don’t know where to start, this post will walk you through creating a plan, daily actions to consider, and where to access resources and help — because no one needs to look for work alone.
Develop and Execute An Action Plan
To help keep your job search focused and on track, create an action plan and start executing it. This plan should include several modern job search strategies, including:
Start researching industries and companies. Identify and explore companies of interest and then locate key decision-makers or personal connections in these organizations. Are these companies hiring? LinkedIn is a great site to research and connect with people of interest. Arm yourself with as much information as possible to support search efforts.
Network often and consistently (even virtually). Leverage your network to identify possible leads, opportunities, or unadvertised openings. If you continuously network, you will build a robust group of connections to support both your current job search and future employment endeavours. Aim to create relationships so people can become ‘internal champions’ for you within target organizations. Referrals can escalate application chances.
Ask quality questions:
Instead of simply asking people to help you find a job, spend efforts inquiring about opportunities, leads, or information that will support your job plan. For example, if a company interests you, try to connect with people who work there to learn about the company culture. Or, seek an introduction to someone working in a field or role of interest and ask them how they got their placement. The more information you are armed with, the better career decisions you can make.
Build a strong online presence:
Ensure your LinkedIn profile is complete with current content, industry keywords, and clear value to help get you passively located by employers and recruiters. Almost all recruiters are on LinkedIn, so you must be, too. Increase your online visibility by consistently engaging on the site. Share thought leadership posts related to your field, post thoughtful and engaging comments on posts, and build connections with key decision-makers. Learn more in this post: “LinkedIn for Executive Job Search.”
Update career tools:
Include recent employment and career achievements on your resume, and be prepared to customize content for every application. Employers need a clear demonstration of why you are the best candidate for them. A generic resume will not cut it. You need a resume that directly aligns your skill sets with each job’s requirements, especially if your resume might be read by an applicant tracking system.
Create a Routine Task List After Being Laid Off
Next, create a daily or weekly task list to organize your actions and activities. Allocate dedicated time each day to focus on your job search. Without a systematic approach, you might find yourself going about the above strategies haphazardly, causing a slowing of momentum or motivation.
A weekly task list might include the following:
• Conduct 30 minutes of research daily to help build a target company list.
• Carefully evaluate 2 companies of interest. Check out websites and LinkedIn company pages to learn more.
• Reach out to 3 contacts with a meaningful message. Most people have something in common – can you find it and use it as a conversation starter? Or simply reach out to ask how people are doing to re-engage in conversations.
• Request an informational interview or coffee date with a friend or connection who works at a company of interest. Ask this person for additional leads.
• Brainstorm 3 new career achievements and use them to update your resume or LinkedIn profile. Keep and maintain a brag file to help with ongoing updates.
• Invest in learning to expand skillsets. Look for classes, workshops, or seminars that you can complete to boost your abilities.
A job search is often likened to a marathon, not a sprint. It is going to take time and some serious effort. To keep yourself focused and engaged, especially during periods of doubt and increased anxiety, keep yourself accountable with a task list.
Access Current Information and Assistance
For many, every day of unemployment builds stress and uncertainty, yet the time it takes someone to find work will vary, factoring in the type of role being sought, the number of openings in the target area (who is hiring and where), a person’s qualifications, the efforts of the job seeker, and the economy itself.
Many companies are laying off, but many companies are also hiring. Remember, remain active. Now is not the time to pause efforts!
Job searching is a tough task, but it isn’t a task you have to go about alone. Put together a team of trusted individuals that you can turn to for advice or keep you motivated and accountable. These people may include career coaches, resume writers, employment experts, and supportive friends or family. If you need help with a specific job search activity — ask! Engage friends or family. Be clear about what you are good at and what you are looking for.
To access current hiring information:
- Conduct specific Google searches for your target job and region. For example: “Project Manager Alberta” or “Business Development Director Toronto” can narrow results.
- Read the news to identify what companies or industries are hiring (add these companies to your target list if a potential match exists).
- Go to job boards and look for current postings. Jobs posted in the last 2 weeks are likely the most recent and active.
- Search for, and join job search groups. Do any exist in your community or online?
- Visit LinkedIn and use the hashtag #hiringnow to locate postings.
- Read your LinkedIn feed for information, postings, or insights. Comment and share.
- Follow key decision-makers or companies of interest on social media and engage with them.
- Set up Google alerts to get notified when certain job postings or hiring details are published.
If you are looking for qualified career professionals:
- Follow career pros on social media that give out regular, free advice. Here’s a list of the Top 15 Job Search Experts to Follow on LinkedIn and 50 Best Twitter Accounts for Job Search Advice.
- Visit professional associations like Career Professionals of Canada or Career Thought Leaders to identify certified career professionals who can assist with search efforts.
- Regularly read Career Impressions Blog.
- Check out Job Search Journey, which provides job search resources (templates, worksheets, scripts, and guides) to support all stages of job search.
Armed with the right job search plan, knowledge, and support, you can maintain momentum and execute a focused effort to secure your next role faster. My husband put all of these activities and suggestions into action and landed a remote role just 2 months after being laid off during the pandemic: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/adriennetom_jobsearch-activity-6690965806244884480-sIVt
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