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Job loss is not easy to deal with. Whether you knew it was going to happen or you were surprised. My post “I Lost My Job, Now What” covers the stages (which are similar to losing a loved one) as well as what to do first. And while somewhat of a cliche, it is very much like falling off of a horse. Once you get past the pain, it’s time to get back in the saddle and start your job search.
One more cliche, but there is truth to it – when you are out of work, looking for a new job is your job. It is very easy to do the 100 other things there are to do rather than looking for a job, but you must focus your efforts on the future. In a slightly different order than my post referenced at the beginning of this paragraph, some links to Next Steps.
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Make a Plan
The first thing you need to do is to make a job search plan of action. Don’t spend a lot of time on this (15 minutes or less should do it). You will want to include your list of documents and a “plan of action”. Take a look at Planning for Your Job Search – Lesson 1. The obvious items include your killer resume and cover letters. There are other resources you can use, such as Art of the Job Search: A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding a Job You Love.
None of this will help you get a job unless you stick to the plan and “get it done”. Another great book to help you stay focused (short and easy reading is Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. Worth a read to help you focus on getting things done in your life and, most importantly, your job search.
You need to keep a positive attitude (yeah, it sucks to be out of work) – it will get you to your goal more quickly. But even though you may have a great plan of action, a few things that can keep you from getting hired, such as:
You are not prepared for your interview
Your resume does not make the cut
You aren’t leveraging your social network
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You should always keep your resume up to date, even if you are not looking for a job. Review and update your resume every 6 months or so. If you don’t already have a resume, now is the time to create one. If you do have one, now’s the time to update your resume. If you feel comfortable creating or updating your resume, then go for it. If you need help, there are free resume review sits like TopResume (free resume review).
Other resources for your resume:
- 5 Steps to a Great Resume – Gathering Your Information– This is lesson 1 of CareerAlley’s free resume writing lesson series. Follow the instructions through each of the lessons and you should have a great resume.
- Resumes that Work – Sometimes it’s easier to see a format and work from there than to start from scratch. The examples in this book should help you when creating and updating your resume.
- Knock ’em Dead Resumes: How to Write a Killer Resume That Gets You Job Interviews – Another good resource for resumes with lots of great tips. There is a step by step guide for writing resumes as well as additional information on getting interviews. Once you get “the offer”, there is a good section on negotiating the best offer. The book includes strategies that have been proven to work.
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Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t need a cover letter. If you are sending a resume in response to a post or an ad (online or otherwise) you definitely need a cover letter. Take a look at CareerAlley’s Insider’s Guide to Writing a Cover Letter.
No “how-to” article would be complete if there was not at least one reference to our list of cover letter resources (see below).This book has a few good cover letters to help you get started.
More cover letter resources? Take a look at Writing Resumes and Cover Letters For Dummies.
Last, but certainly not least, are social networks. Most would argue that LinkedIn is much more than a business social network (and it is). One of the best sites to find a job and, even better, to be found when looking for a job. Take a look at 5 Mistakes to Avoid on Your LinkedIn Profile.