Mapping Out Your Job Search (Part II)
Mapping out your job search in order to navigate to the next destination in your career.

Mapping Out Your Job Search (Part II)

In my previous blog, I indicated that there would be a series of blogs discussing mapping out your job search in order to navigate to the next destination in your career. This was a result of being asked by some of my former colleagues and employees at Lynx Aviation and Frontier Airlines who want to know what they should be doing as they face the uncertainty ahead in their job search. This is the second in a series, which will address steps for those who face job elimination in the immediate future and will be followed up by one final blog, which will address individuals who have been unemployed for a period of time. I understand that the topic of being displaced is relevant to many more individuals than the employees at my prior company, so please continue reading and add input to the comments if this is currently affecting you, or has affected you at any point in your career.

This week a number of my former co-workers will lose their positions due to consolidation of back office positions, hence the timing of this release. Many of the steps we discussed in the previous blog are applicable to today’s discussion.

Once again, the 5 steps are:

1. Plan your job search strategy.
2. Create your target list of companies and positions.
3. Create your resume and supporting materials.
4. Plan your finances.
5. Build your network.

If you haven’t prepared and completed these steps prior to this point in your job search, there will be a sense of urgency to do so. Today’s blog makes the assumption that you have begun your search process, so I won’t repeat any of the original topics we discussed, including the information of the first two steps in the process. To find those items, the prior blog can be found here. That blog discussed individuals who had time to prepare for their job search. I won’t address the first two steps in the process today, but will build on steps 3 – 5 and identify actions you should take now that you are being released from your employment.

Create your resume and supporting materials.

Your resume should have been prepared by this point, now however, is a good time to review the resume for accuracy of information and ensure that it highlights your accomplishments and the scope of your latest position. The majority of individuals are able to list the duties of their positions on their resumes, but fail to explain what they accomplished, or discuss the scope of the position. Of the resumes that I have reviewed for candidates in their initial consultation or as a volunteer, roughly 85 – 90% of the resumes I have reviewed only list job duties. It was typical to see this as a Director of Human Resources from individuals applying for a position as well. The resumes that stand out, are the ones who can show that they can not only complete the duties, but describe how they can exceed other individuals applying for the same position. Again, take the time now to review your resume, prior to sending it out to prospective employers. Speaking of accomplishments, the previous blog also suggested collecting letters of recommendation. Now that you have reached the end of your employment with this company, now is the time to collect these letters from your supervisors and company leadership.

Plan your finances.

One of the areas that most people will be concerned about at the end of employment are finances. I hope that you have had the opportunity to build your savings if you were anticipating losing your position. There is more to consider regarding your finances at this time. If you have a severance plan in place for the end of your employment, you should review your agreement. I always recommend that if you are asked to sign a waiver or rights as part of a severance, that you have an attorney review the agreement. If you are at this place, be sure that you have a good understanding of what you will receive as part of your separation. If you have questions regarding this, be sure to ask questions of your supervisor or Human Resource professional.

While you are reviewing policies, you should also have an understanding of COBRA and what your rights are regarding your benefits. Beyond your standard health benefits, also give consideration to any flexible spending account, tuition reimbursement, pension (if applicable), 401(k) and any other benefits your employer has offered you. You have the ability to set your mind at ease if you have your questions answered prior to leaving your employment than when you are faced with an emergency.

Once you have separated, begin to determine when you will file for your unemployment insurance. Typically one will receive unemployment insurance benefits for a period of 26 weeks after your severance has expired. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and subsequent acts of legislation regarding unemployment insurance, we have seen extensions enacted. The most recent extension expired on June 2, 2010, but there are bills currently under consideration to extend this further. Be sure that you have an understanding of the benefits available to you when you file for the unemployment insurance.

One additional recommendation I have regarding finances is to notify your creditors that you are entering a period of unemployment. Be honest with them regarding your expectations, even if you aren’t anticipating any problems with payments. Creditors appreciate the notification and will be able to work with you in a much more meaningful way if they are given notice to a possible concern.

Build your network.
In the previous “Mapping Out Your Job Search” blog, there was a great amount of information posted regarding building your network. Now that your employment has ended, it is time to activate those networks. The steps to take at this point are fairly easy and shouldn’t consume a great deal of time. Hopefully you have created your accounts in places such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter and Facebook (just to name a few, if you have more, great) and if you are adventurous, have started your blog.

On the sites where you might have your employment information posted (LinkedIn, Plaxo, Job boards, etc.); now is the time to update your employment dates and insert a new summary that will notify prospective employers that you are available for their opportunities. Check with any user groups aligned to your discipline, be it in LinkedIn or Google to see if there is a place for you to leave your professional information as well as contact information along with a description of the type of opportunity you are seeking. This would also be a great opportunity to see if the groups you are interested in are holding any networking opportunities. Meetup.com is an additional resource that is available to find networking opportunities for groups that align to your target companies or career path. Take time to look for job search groups in your area. Many of these networking opportunities are free or at very little cost.

For those who have social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Pipio, etc.) take the time to post an updated status and notify your network that you are seeking a new opportunity. You should also update your “info” section on Facebook and your “bio” on Twitter to inform others that you are available. Remember to “follow” recruiters or individuals (i.e. Andrew Hudson’s Job List, jobbing.com, Hamrick & Associates, etc.) that are posting positions in your community or discipline. Also remember to “like” the companies you are targeting on Facebook.

I have one final word of advice for those of you who find yourself in a position where your job is coming to an end. Losing your employment is not an easy thing. Many individuals need to take time to grieve the loss of a position, or at least some time to regroup and reflect on this chapter of your career. Many individuals who are unemployed are here due to a result of economic conditions and not as a result of anything you have done. Make sure you have supportive people in your life who understand that. Joining a network of individuals who are supportive job seekers is crucial. Not only have they walked in your shoes, they might have a lead to your next opportunity.

Once again, I hope this is helpful for those beginning their search. I encourage you to share your ideas or comments below, as you could provide valuable insight to others reading this blog. If you have specific questions or would like further tools or consultation, please contact me at Gary@hamrickhr.com. I also encourage you to follow us on facebook here , LinkedIn here and twitter here as well to keep informed of opportunities and events we are holding.

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