At the end of September my dozen-year run with my former employer came to an end because of budget cuts and restructuring. As the sole bread winner for a family I five, I was a little freaked out, but also kind of excited. After all, I was going to have a little time to catch my breath and look for a great opportunity.
Fortunately that great opportunity came pretty quickly: tomorrow I start my new job as Director of Web Strategy for Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies. I’m moving into the field of online higher ed, which is exploding right now, and will have responsibility for CPS’s web and content experience, which is right in my wheelhouse.
During my brief time off, I learned a few things about being out of work, and thought I’d share a few of them here:
- People will offer you all sorts of help right after you get laid off…take them up on it! If they offer to recommend you on LinkedIn, be a reference or do an informational interview, say yes (then reciprocate). Do it quickly, though. People are busy and you’ll likely only be on their radar for a brief time. My friend Webb Chappell is a professional photographer and offered to shoot a new headshot for my LinkedIn profile. As you can see at right, he did a great job given what he had to work with.
- Network, network, network!As my outplacement counselor told me, 75% of new jobs come from networking, so
identify people who are doing interesting things then take them out to lunch and get their advice, let them introduce you to people in their networks, etc. I added more than 50 people to my LinkedIn network during my layoff.
- Wake up close to the time you do when you’re working. It’s just easier to stay in that mindset. That being said, if you have a long commute like I do, sleep in a bit (which for me meant getting up at 6:30 instead of 5)…take advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some sleep!
- Take some time to enjoy yourself. It’s hard being out of work, but you can’t sit at your computer all day. Get outside for a bike ride, take the kids to school, take your spouse to lunch, watch a movie, take a nap! I did all of these things and it made an enormous difference in how I faced each day and how productive I was when I was working.
- Don’t be ashamed of being out of work. First off, these things just happen sometimes, especially in the modern workplace. I was amazed by the number of people who told me they’d been through a layoff. If you’re ashamed of being out of work it will hang off you like a cheap shirt. Be positive and stay focused on the goal of getting good work. As one of my mentors said, “Even in a bad housing market, a good house will sell.” Think of yourself as a good house.
If you’re out there now looking for work, I wish you the best of luck. Getting laid off may have been out of your control, but what you do after that is entirely in your hands. Seize the opportunity.