By Heather Coleman Voss, Business Services Coordinator
The most startling thing about experiencing a lay-off is that time stretches. What you used to accomplish in four hours now seems to take days. One minute it’s 10:00 am, and the next it’s 3:00 pm – and suddenly you realize you haven’t gotten dressed, or done a load of laundry, or sent out a resume yet. You may not even have been aware of the passing time.
I understand. I was there once myself.
This phase of working through the reality of a lay-off is normal. You may find yourself feeling physically weak, unable to cope with formerly simple tasks like sending an email or making dinner. Outwardly, it may look like you are simply sitting in front of the computer or the TV, but inwardly your mind is whirling with emotions and thoughts. It may feel like you are frozen.
Take this to heart: You will not be in this space forever. You are working through one of the top 5 most stressful events people experience in a lifetime. You are in the midst of the grieving process. It is important to work through the stages of grief – taking a few weeks to process through this time is important.
Then, even if it feels forced, you need to get up and take action.
My suggestions on how to make this happen are as follows:
1. Change your verbal and internal language. You are not “unemployed” – you are in a “career transition.” See the difference? How you speak about yourself will make a huge difference in how you see yourself – and how people react to you.
2. Set your alarm for 8:00 am every single day, Monday – Friday. Get up, shower and get dressed in business casual clothing. Put on your shoes. I know it may sound silly, but your routine will establish your activity for the day. How you feel is how you will act.
3. Set up a schedule. In the schedule, include 8 hours per day of active job seeking, broken up in a manner that suits you. Checking email and social media sites for professional networking and job opportunities may be one way to begin your day.
4. Get out of the house. Head over to the nearest coffee shop with WiFi and start updating your resumes and cover letters. (Remember, each resume should be geared to the specific position to which you are applying). If you don’t have a laptop or tablet, head over to the local library or Michigan Works! office, where you can utilize their computers free of charge.
5. At least twice a week, attend a networking event. Be open to meeting people! If money is an issue, search the internet for local free networking events – they are everywhere. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce – most chambers allow you to visit once without having to obtain a membership.
6. Attend or create your own in-person networking group for job seekers. Schedule a meeting once a week. People who are currently in career transition still maintain most of their professional contacts. After all…you never know who knows someone you should know.
7. Search the Internet for workshops and seminars geared toward current employment trends, resume writing, interviewing, creating a career action plan, social media for career seekers and more. Many low cost to no-cost workshops are available. Again, your local Michigan Works! office is a great resource for excellent workshops. Even if you consider yourself a pro, you will pick up great tips and meet people who are well-connected.
8. Spend time every week fine tuning your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and G+ accounts to reflect your career interests. Post articles and start conversations about your areas of expertise. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s new blogging platform – or start your own WordPress or Blogger account where you can showcase your career passions. Employers will search for you – make your profiles attractive to future hiring managers. Spend time in groups on Facebook and LinkedIn growing your network and learning about current career opportunities.
9. Use a free online calendar and apps like Evernote and Any.do to keep you organized and motivated. Remind yourself to follow up with employers, send out specific resumes, attend events and workshops. You may not have a job – yet – but you are working!
10. Every day, update a spreadsheet (I use Google drive) with the positions to which you’ve applied, the contact information of the employer, the title of the position and any other pertinent information. You will feel very accomplished when you can actually see the work you are doing. Additionally, this is a great way to be prepared for the employer to call you – simply check the spreadsheet for details during your conversation.
11. For chores around the house, I recommend creating a short and reasonable checklist. No more than 5 items that can be accomplished throughout the day. The point here is to be busy and proactive, not to overwhelm yourself. Create situations daily for your success.
12. Schedule in some “me time.” If you’ve set up a serious career seeking schedule, you are working. You still need time to relax and re-energize.
Bonus tip: Create business cards with your name, areas of expertise, social media links, email and mobile phone number. Be prepared to hand out your business cards wherever you are – always carry them with you. Remember, how you present yourself is how you will be received. You are a professional.
Many local printers will print business cards for a very reasonable price. Otherwise, check out this article for free and low cost suggestions: Digital Trends – Business Cards.
**If you live near Ferndale, Michigan I recommend places like Chazzano Coffee Roasters, Java Hutt, Ferndale Michigan Works! workshops and resource center and the Ferndale Public Library as destination spots during your job search. If you are interested in networking with a local Chamber, definitely visit the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, the Madison Heights/Hazel Park Chamber of Commerce and the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce.