Laid off

Laid Off? Strategies to Help You Locate a New Job

Over the years I’ve engaged with people of multiple professions facing unplanned work releases due to the economy, market shifts, company downsizing, organizational restructuring, or business closure. The majority of these individuals feel stunned and overwhelmed. Most people do not see it coming and are therefore unprepared for job search.


Some common questions I am receiving from recently laid-off workers include:

1. How do I best commence a job search?

2. What are some modern job search strategies that I should 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 overall there are common themes and strategies that apply. The key to starting a job search is to simply get started.

Many people take a “denial vacation” when they are first laid off, thinking if they simply avoid the problem, it will go away. Unfortunately, it wonโ€™t. Job searching in todayโ€™s competitive market means that job seekers must engage in savvy strategies to get themselves noticed and selected among a sea of competitors.

So although it’s OK to take a few days off to clear your head, you want to try to commence your job search as soon as possible.


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 a number of modern job search strategies, including:

1. Research: 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.

2. Network: Network often and consistently (even virtually).ย  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.

3. 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 there is a company that interests you, try to connect with people who work there to learn about the company culture. Or, seek an introduction to a person 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.

4. 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.ย  Share thought leadership posts related to your field, post thoughtful and engaging comments on posts, and build connections with key decision-makers.

5. 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 jobโ€™s requirements, especially if your resume might be read by an applicant tracking system.


Create a Routine Task List

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 in a haphazard way, causing a slowing of momentum or motivation.

A weekly task list might include the following:

โ€ข Conduct 30 minutes of research each day to help build a target company list.

โ€ข Carefully evaluate 2 companies of interest. Check out websites and LinkedIn company pages to learn more.

โ€ข Reach out to 3 contacts with a meaningful message. Most people have something in common right now (challenging times). Reach out to ask how people are doing to re-engage in conversations.

โ€ข 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.

โ€ข 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.

โ€ข 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 personโ€™s qualifications, the efforts of the job seeker, and of course the economy itself – which we all know is currently struggling.

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 isnโ€™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 certified career coaches, resume writers, or employment experts – along with 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, online?
  • Visit LinkedIn and use the hashtag #hiringnow to locate postings.
  • Read your LinkedIn feed for information, postings, or insights.
  • Follow key decision-makers or companies of interest on social media.
  • Set up Google alerts to get notified when certain job postings or hiring details are published.

If you are looking for qualified career professionals:


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:

Adrienne Tom

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  1. Myles Lofland on April 8, 2020 at 8:03 am

    I love the concepts presented here; especially as they build structure and routine. Job seeking is truly a JOB, and my experience has shown that greater results come for those who treat it that way. Thank you for these wise word and resources, Adrienne.

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