It is a sad state of affairs when previously top-rated and well-respected firms go belly up and leave a slew of dedicated, talented, but unemployed workers in their wake.
I worked on Wall Street and survived one lay-off before deciding to change industries. My department and ultimately the firm was subsequently swallowed up, so I feel particularly empathetic. Many who believed that a Wall Street job was their golden ticket must now take a deep breath and figure out plan B.
In light of today’s situation, and in particular for Lehman and Merrill employees (and AIG…), here are some action steps to consider:
Pause, but don’t stop.
If you don’t have a great network and job search materials at-the-ready, facing an unexpected job loss can be very overwhelming. Take a moment to take stock, but don’t take a month. Consider potential next steps. Assess your skills and figure out what you offer that is unique and special. In an environment where many people are looking for opportunities at once, you need to be able to identify what sets you apart.
In a post for the Wall Street Journal, “Dealing with a Job Search When You Least Expect It”: Toddi Gutner notes: “Despite the need to mobilize a quick job search, ‘you don’t want to send out a bunch of things into the marketplace without any thought behind it,’ says Mr. [Doug] Matthews [CEO of Right Management Consultants]. Take some time to create a thoughtful and measured approach to your job hunt. Be specific about the position you want and target the companies where you want to work.” (Hat tip: Lindsey Pollak)
Especially if you’ve been thrown into a job search unexpectedly – IMMEDIATELY clean up your social networking profiles so that they are professional and wouldn’t cause any potential employer to think twice about hiring you. (Including your photos – make sure you are dressed like you are ready for work in your highlighted pictures.) Set a Google alert so you know when your name comes up online. With 1 in 5 employers researching candidates online, an un-professional comment or picture may be the difference between getting the job and being the #2 choice.
You already know. Network, network, network. But, do you know how? If you’re not familiar with social networks (linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.), now is the time to get familiar!
When you are planning your networking, focus on information gathering and sharing. Don’t ask for informational meetings to discuss your need for a job. If that person doesn’t have a job to offer, he or she will probably not want to meet with you and will suggest you contact HR.
The key with your networking is to expand your group of “loose contacts” – people who don’t know you well, but are willing to do what they can to help you achieve your goal. If you can present yourself as talented and skilled and make a personal connection, you will get much further with your job hunt.
Job hunt full time, but don’t be a workaholic.
Make a plan. Get up, get dressed, make appointments, keep a to-do list. Have goals for your job hunt as you do for your work life. I don’t have to tell you that this is a stressful time, but don’t feel the need to be job hunting 100% of your day. Take time to enjoy yourself and seek supportive groups to help you get through this tough time. Take time to vent and to be angry, but try to achieve a positive outlook, as that will help you in the long run.
Consider the cost benefits of seeking career advice.
The fact is, most people don’t have a very good resume and have no idea how to search for a job in today’s economy. In a competitive environment, your job seeking materials (this includes your linkedin profile and web 2.0 presence) will be even more important. Money may be tight, but hiring a coach and/or a resume writer might be just the boost you need to propel your search. Anita Bruzzese, career advice columnist and author suggests,
“If you don’t think you can afford a career coach, consider giving up some of the extras in your life (a gym membership, eating out, cable television, etc.) which can can help you pay for a coach.”
Consider the cost of unemployment and the fact that you are much more likely to land a job in a timely way if you have a great resume, understand how to market yourself and are well prepared to interview and negotiate.
The list of things to do when suddenly facing a job hunt is very long…Those who make a plan and methodically move toward their goals are most likely to achieve them.
Some links that might be useful:
- Suggestions of the best careers for today’s economy.
- Information about what to do next if you’ve lost your job.
- I’ve written a lot about job seeking in a recession.
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