Career Survival Week 1/5: What To Do When You Lose Your Job

This post is the first of five in a series on this blog called "Career Survival Week." See the end of this post for links to the others.

Every day it seems a new company has layoffs and friends around me in my social network that were previously in totally secure jobs are now finding themselves looking for new work and even rethinking their careers. I've been in this situation before, living through two dotcom booms and busts – one in the US and one in Australia. I have been thinking about what I can do to help – and I decided that I'm going to devote my posts this week to "career survival." So this week I'm going to write a new post each day with some point of advice or tip for anyone who has recently be laid off, downsized, or otherwise needs to find a new and better job.

Today's post is about the first five things to do if you find yourself in a situation where you have lost your job. Though my advice is definitely influenced by the type of job that I work in, I hope this week to offer ideas that are broad enough that they could work for people in a variety of situations and industries and not just marketing professionals like myself.

  1. Give yourself a reason and accept it. No matter how confident you are, losing a job always causes you to question yourself. Generally the two reactions are to doubt yourself and your ability, or to blame your situation or your people at your old company. Neither is worth doing. The best thing you can do is find a believable reason why this happened and then actually believe it. It's the first step to moving on.
  2. Decide on two things to do. It's a cliche to tell you that you should try to discover what you want to do with your life now that you've lost your job. The better advice is to decide two things to do. The first is what you would do to bring in the money you'll need to support yourself or your family. The second is what you really want to do for a career. By separating the two, you can think more clearly about your future in the short and long term. That way, if you need to take a job for money that isn't perfect, you can keep your eye on preparing for the better job at the same time.
  3. Map your social graph. Chances are, your next opportunity will come from somewhere or someone you already know – so the most important thing you can do at this point is to create a "graph" of your social imprint online. What sites do you belong to? Where do you have a concentration of your friends or previous work colleagues? What sites are you not a part of that you may want to join? Whether you consider yourself "technical" or not is besides the point. If you're going to get another job, you're going to need to network and unless you happen to have a social calendar filled with perfect networking opportunities every evening, you'll need the Internet.
  4. Identify your influencers. Within your social graph will be people who are in a position to have a disproportionate effect on your getting a new job. Contrary to what you may think, these are not necessary the people with the highest titles or the most fame. Often the person hiring or who knows the person hiring is the one working at a mid level. So spend time with the sites that you belong to and start to make connections. Not to "sell" yourself to college friends you haven't spoken to in years, but to understand who you really need to convince and build a plan for them and others like them.
  5. Get some face time. Now that you have identified your influencers, see if there are any common places where they will be. Don't underestimate the value of having some real face time to remind them who you are, and to show them that you're not retreating into your home office in the basement and sending out LinkedIn messages in your pajamas. Face time sends a message that you're there and ready – and has the side benefit of giving you the chance to expand your network to meet more people.

Career Survival Week On Influential Marketing Blog (links to every post below):
What To Do When You Lose Your Job
| Using Social Media To Keep Your Job | Job Seeking 2.0 | How To Rock An Interview
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