Jan 13, 2021 03:30 PM EST

Laid Off? Here's How to Optimize Your Job Search

Laid Off? Here's How to Optimize Your Job Search

(Photo : Laid Off? Here's How to Optimize Your Job Search)

Getting laid off can be a real blow, especially if you loved (or even just enjoyed) your now-former role. But it can happen to the best of us, especially in an economic downturn -- it's typically a symptom of bad luck, not something you should take personally or get discouraged about.

Of course, that's easier said than done, especially when you're worried about finding another position. But once you've negotiated your severance package and applied for unemployment, it's time to get back out there and start looking for another job. Here's how to make sure your job search is short and sweet.

Give Yourself a Cooling-Off Period

When you're first laid off, it can be tempting, in the heat of the moment, to gather your belongings, head straight home, and immediately begin firing off job applications. And if you enjoyed your role and there are lots of options available to you professionally, it makes sense that you'd want to get a job -- any job -- right away so you can keep paying the bills.

But you don't have to rush. Between any severance pay your company may have given you and your unemployment insurance, you can afford to take a week off to process your dismissal, consider your options, and plan your job search. This is especially important if you think you might be ready for a career change. You can use this time to apply for unemployment insurance and make financial plans for your reduced income

Use Your Outplacement Services

If your former employer offered outplacement services as part of your severance package, use them. Outplacement assistance recruiters can help you find opportunities that you might have never discovered otherwise, and they can also do a lot to help you prepare for the job market. You can get help updating your resume, practicing your interview skills, and polishing your LinkedIn profile. Sometimes, you can even get access to a phone, office space, and administrative support for some period of time. 

Start Applying for Jobs

If your company doesn't offer outplacement services, it might be worth working with a career counselor on your own for resume help and interview practice. Get your resume in order, clean up your social media, and sign up for that LinkedIn Premium free trial. Optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords, and publish thought leadership posts to attract more traffic from recruiters. 

Once you have your resume in order, you can start applying for jobs. You should write a new cover letter for each job application, tailored to the role and the company. But take the time to research companies and roles so you don't waste time getting to the final steps of an interview process, or even accepting a new job, only to discover that it's not what you wanted or expected from a new role. Besides, it's better to send out fewer, stronger, and more targeted applications than to try and carpet-bomb every employer in your city with a generic, form cover letter and resume. Take this opportunity to try and take a step up -- if you're not sure whether you qualify for a job, apply anyway. You never know -- they might decide to give you a chance anyway.

Activate Your Network

Many jobs are still filled via word of mouth, so let your professional and personal network know you're looking for a new role. If you know someone who works at a company you're interested in, it's fine to approach them to ask what it's like to work at the company -- it helps if you can say something like, "I'm interested in applying to the open account manager position, and I'd like to know more about what it's like to work there." If the person is a friend of yours, you can even ask the awkward questions about stuff like whether it's frowned upon to actually use your vacation time. Your friend or acquaintance might even know of another open position at the company that you'd be a better fit for, or they might keep you in mind for something that opens up later on. 

When you get laid off, try not to wallow in self-pity, but take the time to go about your job search in a careful, methodical way. When you focus on applying to jobs you really want, being laid off can become one of the best things to ever happen to your career.

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