Advantage Career Solutions
Richard Phillips, Career Counselor and Coach

Looking For A Job When You Don't Want To

I've been getting a lot of questions lately about looking for a job when you've been laid off (what a surprise!). I thought I'd answer some of them below, in case you, or someone you know is, or soon will be, in the job search mode.

What is the first step in dealing with a non-voluntary job search?

Avoid letting the mental/emotional circumstances paralyze you.

How you feel about it is a separate issue from what you do about it. You may react with anger, sadness, depression, relief, fear or any number of other emotions. But, unless you can realistically make the decision to retire, you will still have to initiate and execute a job search, regardless of how you feel. And the longer you wait, the harder it will be. So the first step in dealing with a job search that wasn't your choice is to make the choice to accept it. This doesn't mean that you can't feel the way you do. It does mean that you can take the actions that will get you your next job. Your emotional reaction doesn't have to determine your actions.

What are the next steps?

A job search, whether voluntary or not, typically consists of these phases:

identify the appropriate job(s), identify your target companies, write a strong targeted resume, use available resources (your personal / professional network, etc.) to uncover specific job openings in your target companies, apply, tune up your interview skills, participate in interviews, negotiate the compensation package when you get an offer.

Of these steps, the first three are critical.You will waste a lot of time if you don't know what jobs are appropriate for your experience, and if you don't know what companies want that experience. And, even worse, if your resume doesn't promote you, knowing the jobs and the companies won't make a difference.

Why are these the right steps to take?

Taking these steps in sequential order gets you the right job in the shortest time possiblewith the least amount of anxiety, wasted energy and backtracking. If you skip steps, or don't complete them adequately, you run the risk of adding unnecessarily to the time it takes you to find a job. The length of a job search is impacted by two factors: the supply/demand conditions of the market (which is out of your control) and how effectively you look for a job (which is in your control). The sooner you get started consistently performing the activities that will connect you with the appropriate opportunities, the sooner you will be back at work. If the economy is soft, it usually takes longer. If the economy is very hot, it usually takes less time. The difference isn't that companies respond faster, necessarily, but that there are more opportunities and they are easier to find.

What else do I need to pay attention to?

In a hot economy, you can probably get away with being a little less prepared with good answers to tough interview questions. If there is a high demand for workers, and a low supply, employers just can't be as picky. In the reverse conditions, you must be prepared to do well in every interview, because you will have fewer opportunities to interview and face more competition. You must know what your skills are and how they connect with the requirements of the job. You must be able to articulately speak about what you have done and what you want to do. This is always important, but in a soft job market, it is critical that you take advantage of every interviewing opportunity.

Any other advice?

It is a temptation to treat the severance check as an invitation to just kick back for a month or two before beginning your job search. After all, you need time to get over the shock, don't you? However, as Newton pointed out - a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. It is much harder to get your job search going after you have gotten out of a work routine. I advise clients to spend the first three to four weeks after a layoff getting their job search up and running. Then take a vacation for a few days. Schedule your vacation at the beginning of the job search. If you find a job right away, you can either cancel the vacation or delay your start date. If you haven't found a job, you'll be able to take the vacation knowing your resume is in circulation while you are sound asleep on a tropical beach. Either way you win.

I offer a free 30 minute telephone session to help you get started toward solving your career challenges - such as getting what you really want. The session is an opportunity for you to talk with a professional counselor and coach about what you want from your career or job and to get some initial feedback on what some solutions might be. It is also gives you the chance to experience my counseling style to see if I'm someone you'd like to have help you.

Interested? Just click Getting Started to get some details of what to expect and how to prepare.