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Series 4113 Number 14 - Coping with job search – down, but definitely not out! *

We meet our clients just as they leave their former employer, which is certainly not always under the best of circumstances. While the majority of our clients had an inkling that job loss was a possibility or in the air, facing the reality is difficult. Job loss brings out all sorts of emotions, including anger, fear, depression, frustration and anxiety. When discussing their exit, many clients admit that they are relieved to be out of the job or company.

However, the timing of job loss is never really perfect. Some clients may have just purchased a home, have a new addition to their family, have large loans or credit card debt, and perhaps, the dreaded fear of losing their home for the lack of mortgage payments.

Two of the srongest emotions candidates have upon losing their job are a loss of confidence and being alone in their search. This leads to fear and anxiety about the actual process of looking for work. The statistics of high unemployment, people being out of work for more than a year, increasing rates of foreclosures, benefits running out, and the tremendous competition for each published position, can make a candidate feel overwhelmed and cause withdrawal.

What to do?

Interacting with family and friends:  How a candidate reacts to his job loss sets the mood of the entire family. If he is depressed and negative, other members of the family will fall in line and the home becomes overshadowed with pessimism. I recall a story about my father who had lost his job. I was not born yet, but my mother told me that when he came home with the news, he was very positive. He smiled and said to her, “…we are now at the bottom and can only go up!” And up he did, to become very successful. A candidate’s attitude sets the tone of how his home and immediate friends will interact with him. If you have just lost your job, choose the positive route.

Dealing with your inner feelings: Most candidates find that action is the antidote to insecurity and frustration. If you feel that you cannot get out of a depression, get help. Take advantage of your COBRA insurance if consultations with a psychologist are covered. Maybe an understanding, non-judgmental friend or partner can provide an outlet for you to discuss your feelings. Get help early to keep control over your feelings.

Getting financial help: If you have financial difficulties, now is the time to get help in sorting out debts and making whatever benefits you have stretch out as far as you can. Discussing your mortgage with your bank before you miss a payment can do wonders, as they will oftentimes work with you to reduce or even delay payments until you are back on your feet. The same is true with credit card companies. Request reduced payments during your search. If you need additional help in the way of community assistance, there are aids from Social Services provided by the State with food credit cards and the like. Do not hesitate to take advantage of these services. Directly and indirectly, you have already paid for this help with your tax payments.

Attacking the job market:  First, you need to learn what goes into a job search. If you have been employed for any length of time, you need to learn the ins and outs of job search in today’s job market. Many things have changed.

Resumes are no longer job descriptions, but marketing documents that show skills through accomplishments from prior work. Skills need to be apparent and demonstrate that you can fill the needs of a future employer. Merely telling people what you do is not enough. You need to state your accomplishments, indicating how the results benefited each of your former employers.

Responding to advertisements is useful but is not the best way to pursue jobs, due to the high proliferation of responding candidates. Your campaign needs to stand out from the crowd. People who persist in sending out resumes in response to advertisements as their primary search tool will wind up being frustrated by their lack of success. Being one out of hundreds of competitors is not your best option.

Understanding how to use social and professional networks is essential so you can get leads and opportunities from the hidden job market (those jobs that have not yet gone public). If you have never been a networker, now is the time to learn as it will help you fast track your search. You need to present yourself as a solution to an employer’s problem rather than someone just seeking to be an expense. There are special techniques for prospecting companies close to home as well as out of your area. Learn these techniques before you go out on the market.

Outplacement: Lastly, if you are offered outplacement, do not hesitate to work with your counselor before begriming your search. Work closely with him to develop your best resume yet along with model letters and a marketing plan. Do not use an old resume; you can never make a brilliant first impression a second time. Learn what goes into a job campaign and commit yourself to working at it at least eight hours a day. The more you put into it, the better you become as a candidate.

In the final analysis, those candidates that prepare their campaign, and stick to it for whatever it takes, find employment sooner. Our experience in working with thousands of clients shows that more than 60% wind up with better positions, many even with more money. How well you approach your career transition is up to you. For people who become outstanding candidates, the best is yet come.

  • For free leads on thousands of jobs, advice and money-saving tools, be sure to check out the For Job Seekers section of our website.

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* For readability, this is a gender-unique document.