“Your job has been eliminated”. These words can hang in the air for a bit longer than anything else you planned to hear in a phone call from your boss or at an impromptu meeting for you and several other employees in a conference room. Some companies still give out pink slips in your last pay check. Sometimes it can all be said by email, but it’s basically the same message: you have joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Layoffs continue to happen despite the economic indicators pointing to better days ahead. If you’ve just recently been laid off, it can stir up a range of emotions—shock, fear, anger, and resentment. It is normal to ride a roller coaster of emotions like these and to even experience depression. Among Latinas and Latinos, there is no such thing as seeing a layoff as just a business decision. Business is personal. Even if you were laid off with hundreds of people, Latinas are likely to look for personal reasons behind a layoff. Don’t. A lay off is often the result of people calculating the number of employees a company can keep and still be profitable. You can help yourself get back on track by taking a few days to adjust to the new reality and let your close friends provide you with much appreciated comfort. At the very least just talking with friends about all the other things you can be grateful for having in your life is a good way to gain perspective.
Planning for your next steps, however, needs to begin soon. Start with all the tactical things that have to be addressed: Find out what benefits your former employer is going to provide to you. Some are willing to provide workshops on resume writing or job interview techniques. Sign up soon. Look at whether you’ll need to budget your expenses differently and for how long. Take time to file for unemployment benefits if you’re eligible. Don’t let more than a week go by without looking at all of these issues.
Next, it’s time to focus on the career you want to have and what specifically you liked about your past workplace and your duties. Assess what you enjoyed and what you’d want to see again in your next career. Keep this list front and center as you begin to update your resume. It is key that your resume position you for the job you want. Get feedback from your trusted advisors that your updated resume speaks to your strengths and interests.
If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, sign up for at least a free profile. If you do have a profile, update your job status and don’t be afraid to state you are looking for your next opportunity. Begin using your network to let people know you are interested in finding a new job. LinkedIn also has groups you can join and Q/A sections you can get involved in to demonstrate your knowledge. Take time to explore these features and make yourself visible to others.
Networking on line cannot be your only strategy, however. Get out as much as possible to attend as many events where you might meet people who work in the industry where you want to work. Career fairs are just one opportunity. Don’t forget association meetings, local chamber meetings, alumni events or special celebrations. Whether you think you might have a chance to network or not, carry your own personal business card with your name, your personal email and your phone. Every chance meeting can take you one step closer to an opportunity for work. The job hunt is all about networking as most people find work through their personal and professional network.