After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
You go back to your desk and look around the room only to find your colleagues averting their eyes, much the same way you had done during the countless other times you have seen this very scenario play out with other people over the years.
But this isn’t about other people. It is about you. Suddenly all of your accomplishments, your dedication and sacrifices over the past number of years are gone. You are out of a job, and you don’t know where to turn or what to do first.
Unfortunately the economy has led to quite a large number of layoffs over the past five years. Many of the people who survived the initial cuts felt a little safer as the economy seemed to expand and companies took on new employees. Losing a job now, at a time of renewed confidence, can be especially hard for people who thought the crisis had passed.
In general, our culture places a great deal of significance on our employment. Often at social events, after hearing your name, people next inquire as to “what you do.” Our careers and our employment are very heavily tied to our identities. As a result, job loss can make you feel like you have lost who you are.
The first step is not to panic. This certainly is bad news, and there is no question that it can be depressing, but falling into despair doesn’t help in any way. Action wards off, or at least minimizes depression and now is the time to be proactive and take an aggressive approach toward finding your next career opportunity. Studies have found that a significant number of employees are dissatisfied with their current job and/or with their current employer. This loss may be just the impetus you need to find a much more satisfying employment situation.
It may be advisable not to do anything that same day, as people who are emotionally comprised are prone to making bad decisions, but start working on things within a very short period of time. Many corporations offer free outplacement services to their staff – take advantage of these resources. People may be angry with their former employer, but outplacement resources are valuable, and if you do not take advantage of what the company has to offer, you may find it necessary to pay for those same services later on.
Do not burn any bridges. You may be angry, but speaking negatively about your company and your colleagues will work against you. Companies are actually less likely to hire new employees who denigrate their previous employers. In today’s world you have to be especially careful not to post anything negative anywhere on social media. All of social media is the public domain, and you have to assume anything you post can be shared with your former employers.
Until you find new employment, your full time job will be looking for a new job. Set aside designated blocks of time to devote to your search every day and keep to that schedule. Dress as if you are going to work; wearing pajamas will work against you psychologically.
That being said, none of us works 24/7. It is important to give yourself time off in your job search as well. Schedule time for leisure activities and reward yourself for small achievements along the way.
Design a plan. The goal is to conduct a productive search, and just as you would plan your time and strategy at work, it is helpful to outline your action plan for finding a job.
Here are some key elements of that strategy. At Touro, we always advise our students to keep their resumes up to date, even when happily and gainfully employed. The resume is the primary job search tool, and having a professional, winning resume is foundational to any successful job search. If you don’t have an up-to-date resume that is certainly the best place to start.
We also advise our students that networking is best accomplished well before anyone actually needs anything. Earned “networking capital” by helping others can be the key to a shorter job search. People who have helped others tend to be in a better position to request assistance.
Spread the word that you are looking for a new opportunity. Never underestimate the value of your network to be able to assist you. It is very important to avoid looking desperate. You may really need to find employment quickly, but desperation makes one look less desirable, not more.
Joining a job search group can be a great way to keep yourself motivated and to find the kind of warmth and support that can assist you both with advice and empathy as you search. Continuing (or enhancing) your tzeddakah and volunteer work is another great way to imbue your days with meaning. They are also a great way to expand your network and demonstrate your capabilities to a larger group of people.
Mass resume e-mail blasts on the odd chance that someone you barely even know may find it are a poor choice. Why? Have you responded to a mass e-mail resume from someone in the community? Chances are you probably have not, and those same chances apply to your attempt as well
Begging and pleading for that shot or constantly posting on social media sites and shul e-mail lists can create an impression that you are not easily employable. That impression can have a devastating impact on a job search.
Make sure that you create a winning LinkedIn profile that highlights your skills. We have addressed the primary components of a LinkedIn profile in a previous column, but to reiterate: to avoid appearing desperate, never place the “job seeker” badge on your LinkedIn profile and never use “in transition” or “seeking new opportunities” as your status or headline.
LinkedIn allows you to create a link to your profile highlighting your name, for example linkedin.com/in/firstnamelastname. Include that link with all of your regular e-mails. That way, anyone who is interested has an easy way to find out more about you. A personal website is also a great way to spread the word. The typical format for such a website is FirstnameLastname.com.
Keep track of the resumes and applications you’ve sent so that you can follow-up as appropriate. This will also help you prevent applying for the same position multiple times. It is also advisable to target the jobs you apply for within a single company. A company’s Human Resources department generally tracks multiple applications, and you don’t want to be known as the person who indiscriminately applies for everything.
Let’s add an important note to the spouses (or parents) of the recently unemployed. Monetary issues can be an enormous source of stress in our lives. The income lost may be absolutely vital for your family, but familial support can go a long way in making a difficult job search easier. Hardworking people know that they need to find new employment as soon as they can, and constant reminders or complaints about inadequate effort tend to work against most job seekers. Chances are your spouse (or child) understands that his or her job is essential for the family. It’s also quite likely that he or she wants to get a job much more than you do. A job search is challenging enough without the added shalom bayis dimension. Your support and encouragement will go a lot further than your threats or insults ever could. To put it another way, your goal is to try and reduce the job search burden, not to increase it.
Scene Four – The Conclusion
Even the most secure looking jobs may not always remain so. Unexpected job loss can happen to anyone. Even while you are gainfully employed, make sure to keep an updated resume and LinkedIn profile and create as much “networking capital” as you can. Help others in their job search, if and when you can, either with leads or simple support. That capital can be essential if you find yourself looking in the future.
This is also a time to ask for spiritual assistance. Not to ask the Almighty for a high-level position at Goldman Sachs, but for the type of employment that will work best for you and your family – wherever and whatever that may be.
Job loss can be devastating. Your life and your routine can be turned upside-down. You may have doubts about your ability or even your own identity, but one of the keys is to try and stay as upbeat as possible. Finding a job is now your full time job. Utilize your company’s outplacement resources, design a job search plan, designate blocks of time for your job search and join a job search group. Be proactive and network but make sure you do not appear desperate. The support and empathy of your family and friends will help you navigate the potentially challenging times ahead.
We welcome your feedback. Please email your career-related inquiries and/or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Touro College’s Career Services assists Touro students and alumni in all aspects of their career search. Contributing to this feature are S. Ronald Ansel, MBA, CPC, Director of Career Services, Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed, and Sarri Singer, Assistant Directors.
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