OK so no one saw this coming. But a mere 12 years ago many of us were faced with the same bad news. This check list helped many people go back to work.
Engage Your Employer –Just get the news? Companies are not hard-hearted entities, and employers normally feel badly having had to deliver bad news to their employees. The sooner they are approached for help, the more likely they are to cooperate. A written letter of reference can eliminate questions as to the circumstances surrounding a lay-off. Company policy aside, a surprising amount of bosses, colleagues and customers are happy to oblige. Be sure to approach your employer for outplacement assistance. To some it’s available but only upon request. And while it’s tempting to be angry at rejection, making the gesture to assist a former employer in the transition will be memorable.
Develop Your Brand – If your name is mentioned in conversation I can immediately search and find you online. What will I find? Will I be impressed? I will either search for you on Google or LinkedIN. On Google, the stronger and more frequent your listings, the more likely those searches will result in a favorable impression. If you have a common name such as John Smith, unless you have purposely cultivated an online brand you take your chances that I might confuse you with someone else. Too many job seekers have no clue what a search will reveal. The warning here is not merely to clean up your Facebook photos and conversation. Negatives will certainly implicate you but lack of a presence will leave inquiring minds underwhelmed.
Build a High-Image LinkedIn Profile – Boasting the largest presence of executives and professionals in social media, LinkedIn cannot be dismissed. Still a relatively young player in the branding portfolio I consistently find few job seekers who really understand what constitutes a strong LinkedIn profile. Many profiles look like nothing more than applications for employment and with all the competition, this can drastically injure the brand that professionals work so hard to build. Candidates need to post a professional executive photo, but many post visuals from camping trips and with their kids that are best left to Facebook. One professional I greatly admire is pictured with a small animal. Not a good look for his consulting business.
Résumé Reality – Dusting off the résumé you used in 2009 might prove disastrous. As career management becomes more sophisticated so too do the tools used to achieve strong job offers. It seems that candidates are the last to realize that what was effective even 5 years ago is now unacceptable. Now known as “selfie résumés” they offer the same quality as cell phone self-portraiture. Two major miscalculations now prevent many from ever having even a phone interview. One is the over-used cliché, i.e. “Hardworking and highly enthusiastic professional with keen attention to detail and strong desire to succeed.” This archaic message appeared on the résumé of one of central Ohio’s most talented CFO candidates. Even more damaging are the dull job descriptions that dominate candidate résumés. With so much available talent competing for great opportunities simply displaying a history of day-today duties fall short. Without significant, individual accomplishments candidates blend into the herd. A résumé without achievements is like a report card without grades. If you are a high-income earner (or want to be) avoid the perception of a fifty cent résumé selfie.
Create Your Network – No matter how large you believe your network to be, plan to increase those who are aware of you and your new status. Though I never discourage the traditional networking events I prefer a more direct approach. Once I know to whom I want to offer my skills, my strategy is to contact them directly. Our clients, armed with search tools, brand imaging and communication methods are encouraged to pursue those in charge of hiring. Today it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows you. Few candidates develop the technique to penetrate companies and get through to hiring authorities. If recruiters accomplish connectivity with employers only to present candidates for a 20% to 30% bounty, candidates can certainly learn to do the same bounty-free.
It’s been said that if you stay ready you never have to get ready. Professionals should constantly optimize their social media presence and certainly should know timely résumé strategies. Unlike politicians job seekers never know when their next campaign will be forced to begin. And so while lack of awareness can prevent a climb up the ladder, it’s never too late to begin.