Leonard Horton is a broadcast journalism instructor and enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and pet guinea pig, Chee Chee.
During the summer of 2018, my wife and I were in Branson, Missouri celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. Suddenly, I receive a call from a former student, then a text message from another student, both expressing a sense of urgency. Pretty soon, I learn their employer, a local TV station in Springfield, has been bought by another company and that they would potentially be laid off. Sure enough, several of my former students were looking for new jobs in broadcast journalism, all while living on a severance check.
This scenario is not something taught in college. This is a real-life emergency and what you do in the next few days will determine how you rebound from this situation.
Here is some advice to help you rebound following a layoff:
Regain Your Confidence
Being laid off can cause a great amount of damage to your self-esteem and even cause depression. You may start questioning your value to the organization and become extremely focused on those who were not let go. During this phase, you must remind yourself that this was a business decision and not directed personally toward you. Also, keep in mind that no company can ever pay you what you are truly worth. To move on and begin applying for new positions, you must not be a wilted flower. You need to give off positive energy, not negative residue from the layoff. Your head should be held high and you should be proud of who you are and what you contribute to the world.
Cut Out Any Unnecessary Distractions
During a layoff, you should stop business as usual. Right now, you can't afford to be distracted or waste time. This means taking a break from social media or binging on your favorite TV show. You should also refrain from discussing your plans with everyone. At this point, I would only discuss plans with trusted advisors or those that can help you meet your goals. There's a saying that "loose lips, sink ships." When you disclose your transition plans with too many people, you run the risk of hearing discouragement, causing you to fall back into a depressed state. Stay focused and keep those plans to yourself. On the flip side, fill your audio playlist with positive affirmations and things to keep you thinking higher.
Stay Laser-Focused on One Opportunity
Sending out a blanket résumé and cover letter to 100 employers across the country may not be the best approach right now. It's best to figure out where you want to live and what industry you want to work in. After that, place a bullseye on a particular position. Learn everything you can about that company and position. One of the worst things you can do during a job interview is seem like you're not really invested or come off as if this job is not important. When you apply for a job, you should also do research on that company. Employers love it when you've taken the time to do your homework.
Focus on Your Branding
I remind students often that they are a brand. When you say McDonald's, you think "hamburgers." When you say Domino's, you think "pizza." I often ask students, "If someone says your name, what do they think?" Your branding is extremely important; it's how you sell your value. Your résumé and cover letter play a major role in crafting your narrative and how people separate you from the crowd. That's why it's critical to have a résumé that is specifically tailored to the job you're seeking. If you are seeking a media job, have a media résumé. If you are seeking a job in sales, it's a good idea to craft a résumé showing your sales experience.
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Write Out Your 15-Day Action Plan
One of the most important parts of this transition is how fast you can build momentum. When setting goals, you can't be "loosey-goosey." You should have set days and times for each of your goals. You need to be intentional. Therefore, I recommend a 15-day action plan. Most people, including myself, have a tendency to procrastinate and allow lots of leeway in planning. Before you know it, major blocks of time have gotten away from you.
Your plan should include specific days and times for the following:
- Gathering a list of job openings and potential employers.
- Cover letter, résumé and professional website preparation.
- Plan to visit networking events related to your desired field.
- Make calls.
- Document responses from calls.
Repeat the Process
Again, your 15-day action plan is about building momentum. If you don't have a job secured within 15 days, no worries; at least you're further along than you were 15 days ago. It's about having a focus and attracting success; which happens when preparation meets opportunity.
In the Meantime, Volunteer and Network
During this transition, you should make a conscious effort to network and volunteer as much as possible. Both are simple to do; they only require a little of your time. The best part is that both place you "in the room" with potential employers. There is a great website called Meetup where you can find people gathering around any topic. As for volunteering, this is one of the best ways to let people see what you are made of and for them to know your name. Many employers will quickly hire people they've seen in action, rather than those they haven't seen. It's a great exchange: you provide temporary, free labor in exchange for a chance to get your foot in the door and fast track your career.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Leonard Horton
EasternEuropeans from London, UK on February 03, 2019:
Good tips and advice