I got an email the other day from a former newspaper colleague who had just been pink slipped by yet another employer.
It was like getting a note from a brother from another mother who had also been marked by the scarlet letter of a second job layoff in less than a decade. While it’s been a year since I went back to work, I can still feel the pain of the uncertainty that comes when you or a friend is told that his or her services are no longer needed. That gut-wrenching “what am I going to do next” feeling that comes with job loss.
The story was all too familiar: funding is short, so we’re cutting positions; sorry, but you’ll have to go. Wait, didn’t the recession end four years ago? Hasn’t the government switched gears and moved on to other concerns like international unrest, approval ratings and World Cup soccer? Isn’t job creation up along with new housing starts?
On a personal level, my friend’s story is way too familiar for all of us: too young to retire but too old to start from scratch. Too much skill and talent to call it quits, but too much wear on the tires for many employers to give him much notice. Not ready for Medicare, but certainly not rich enough for COBRA.
I was both sad and glad that a former mutual co-worker had advised this person to reach out to me for help after being laid off. Sad, because he had lost yet another job. But both sad and glad that I had built up a reputation as being someone with the tools in my kit to help someone mount a job search. Who wants to be the guru of starting over? But I’m glad that after three successful job searches that I have compiled some strategies that others can benefit from.
My first order of business for this friend was to remind him to keep his chin up. Usually these layoffs are not about the individual and their performance (even now), but about numbers being crunched somewhere up the food chain. So while we mourn the loss of a job, it’s better to focus your energy on what lies ahead. And if he’s a good journalist, it means adventure.
My second order of business was to send him the URL for a job-listing site that someone gave me when I started looking for work. Not Career Builder or Monster or one of the big casting call sites. Those are fine, but this site is the liquid gold of our career field. This site is the sweet nectar of the gods because the person in charge posts jobs specific to the industry in which we’re seeking employment.
Finally, I suggested he up his game and get his act together on LinkedIn. In the five years since I first posted my resume on LinkedIn, the employment site has gone from novelty act to front-line player in both the field of job-seeking and commerce. It is the place where grown-ups come out to show perspective employers what they can do. It’s the place to rub elbows with the decision makers. It’s the place where you want to dress for success because you’re only a click or two away from being connected with someone who is looking for a candidate with your skill set.
I have no doubt that my friend will find work. His name is already being passed around among the local media. He’s too good to sit on the bench for very long. He’s got the game to contribute to a company, he’s just got to find a team that needs his skills.