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Richard Nelson Bolles

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Bradley Richardson

Business author, professional speaker and career development...

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Tanya Flynn

Communications manager at Careerbuilder.com

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Tanya Flynn on Job Loss

Tanya Flynn is corporate communications manager and career advisor at CareerBuilder.com. In this role, Flynn identifies employment trends, such as labor demands, hiring outlooks, recruitment and workforce challenges. She also advises job seekers on job markets, career transitions, employment searches, interviewing, networking and career planning. In addition, Flynn advises many of the nation’s largest employers on issues key to their employment strategies, helping them identify, recruit and retain top talent. Here, Flynn explains how you can jump back into the workforce after losing your job.

What are the most important things for people to do during the first 30 days after a job loss?

As difficult as it may seem, try to take control of the situation, rather than seeing yourself as the victim. Consider negotiating a better severance package. Look into your company’s policies and create a list of accomplishments you’ve made at the company to use as leverage.

If you’ve been fired, take a day or two and let it sink in and let yourself get your arms around it. Take a day or two and assess the situation and see what went wrong, but don’t sit idle too long. It’s an opportunity to take some time and think about what it is that will make you happy, what didn’t work and what you’ll be looking for in the future. Assess your interests. What made you happy or unhappy at this job and previous jobs? Then look for employment opportunities that line up more with what made you happy.

Gather your resources. Put together your résumé, information you might need for your cover letter and a portfolio of your work, if appropriate. Most people who look for a new job while still working have difficulty finding the time to put together a résumé and other information specific to the job for which they’re applying. But because you’ll have more time, it’s very important to be specific in the information you’re sending out.

It’s important not to panic and find yourself in the same situation again. Don’t just accept another job.

How can people deal with the emotions stemming from a job loss during the first 30 days?

See it as a time for reflection. What really happened? Did you play a role in what happened? Is there something you could have done better, and what kind of a position would be better suited for you? It’s important to remember there is a difference between reflecting and dwelling.

One of the most important things that you can do is to keep a schedule. You’re used to getting up at a certain time, having lunch with co-workers and following a certain evening routine. To keep your spirits up and keep your job search on the right track, make yourself a schedule and stick to it. Having too much time to dwell can get you down and negatively impact your job search.

It may sound strange, but schedule your reflection time. For instance, block out time to write a list of all the things you liked and didn’t like about past positions. Also, put things on your schedule that you never had time to do when you were employed—for instance, working out, visiting a friend you haven’t seen in awhile or volunteering.

How is the process different if a person has been fired?

Try to focus on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses and what went wrong. Sometimes it’s a personality conflict; you’re not going to get along with everyone. Think about it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to find a better position that’s more aligned with your interests.

It can also be good to re-connect with former colleagues and employers to help you understand why you were successful in those organizations. Meeting with people you worked with when you had a lot of success will give you perspective and confidence.

Should someone expect to find a job within the first 30 days?

The time it takes a person to find the right position varies greatly. It also depends on how quickly you want to get out there and how much you want to find the right opportunity.

It’s definitely possible to find a new job in 30 days, but by trying to find something right away, you risk being in the same situation you were in before. The beauty of the internet is that you can quickly find opportunities. But you should really do some research to make sure you find the right fit.

Finding the right job isn’t always a fast process and it’s not a one-way street. In addition to being interviewed, the candidate should be interviewing the employers to make sure they find the right fit. If something wasn’t working out in the past environment—which is often a pattern—then you risk just going from job to job finding the same problems, they’ll need to change themselves or find those things in a new employer that will get in line with their own interests, motivation and work styles.

If someone was fired or laid off without a severance package, what’s the most important thing to do immediately after the job loss?

Look at your finances, create a budget if you don’t have one and see how much it will take to make your household run. Obviously it’s best to be prepared in advance by setting aside reserves. Definitely try to negotiate a severance, but if it isn’t available, look into unemployment and maybe a part-time job. Sometimes when people get a part-time job, they can gain different skills down the road that they hadn’t had a chance to pursue. Try to find a part-time job that appeals to your interests. If you’re interested in technology, for instance, perhaps you would benefit from a part-time job working in consumer electronics.

How do people make sure they find the right fit at their next job?

Use the time you now have to research a company and tailor your communication with the company. Address the hot buttons—assess your skills and experience and how they relate to that particular job. The more relevant and specific your résumé and cover letter are, the better chance you’ll have to be called by a company for an interview. Tailor your résumé and cover letter to the job at hand. It’s a great way to stand out from other candidates.

How can people use the internet to their advantage after a job loss?

You can use it to research companies in-depth, maybe even researching the person you’d be working for. Use it to network, on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, where you can look up old colleagues and re-connect—especially if you’re going to want references from your former companies.

What’s the current trend in résumés?

We’re definitely moving away from an objectives section at the top. Instead, use this valuable real estate to quickly summarize the most important information. Think about the intended audience, what matters most to them and how your experience could directly impact the company. This approach is also a great way to bring attention to something that’s on your résumé that may be from earlier in your career and would be left out or far down in your job history section.

Also, most companies are focused on results, and are therefore looking for results-oriented people. When you’re writing your resume, it’s good practice to always ask yourself how particular actions impacted your previous employers and clients.

The important thing to remember about your résumé is that it’s a marketing piece and, in many ways, a reflection of your abilities.

What’s the best way to prepare for an interview after an involuntary job loss?

Practice the tough questions, like, “Why were you laid off or fired?” and “Did you get along with your boss?” Have someone practice with you. You may not need it, but you’ll be prepared. You don’t want to put down your employer. Emphasize the positive and what the experience has taught you. Be brief and positive. Never say you were overqualified or that what you weren’t doing the types of tasks you wanted to do. As far as positioning it, make sure you understand how the culture and environment of the company you’re interviewing with is different, and focus on the positive of how well you’ll fit in.


What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?

When I’m in times of change, I see it as an opportunity to reflect and to look ahead, and also to look at what makes me happy. Day-to-day, I don’t always think about what makes me happy and where I’ve been, so it’s good to do this during a time of transition.

“The best thing about change is …”

…it allows you to take a look at yourself and reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished—sometimes you forget to celebrate your successes because you’re so wrapped up in what you’re doing now or going to be doing in the future.

What is the best change you have ever made?

Taking time for myself. A couple of years ago, I decided that I was going to take a little time for myself, because I was always running around trying to make everyone happy. But what I actually learned is that when you take time for yourself, you’re better at giving because you’ve rejuvenated yourself.

For more information on Careerbuilder.com or Tanya Flynn, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

Posted: 12/21/07

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