No one who has been unemployed expects it to last very long. The reality is that you will be looking for work longer than you want. These are things you can do to help you take control and find a new job sooner.
You can’t control how long the process will take.
But, you can control what you do so that you can feel like you are making progress in your job search.
These are unusual times. But all the same rules for launching your job search apply!
1. Nail Down the Basics
The people you know want to help you – they just don’t know how. The best thing you can do to help them help you is to provide three pieces of vital data.
- Specify jobs you are interested in.
- Share a list of companies you would like to work for.
- Clearly and concisely communicate your top skills and achievements.
2. Reach Out
Be strategic in your outreach.
This starts by creating a list of everyone you know and systematically contact people on your list to ask for AIR (advice, information and recommendations). *Note, you are not asking if there’s a job available.*
Personalize your outreach one email or phone call at a time. Sending out a blanket email won’t generate the type of response you are looking for.
Your contacts want to help, but an impersonal plea falls lower on the list of priorities.
3. Get Connected
Volunteer, join professional associations and networking groups for job seekers.
When you volunteer, you are actually killing two birds with one stone. First, it provides you with a feeling of value and worth to help others. Second, you will be interacting with like-minded volunteers and group leaders who can become networking resources.
Connecting with unemployed and employed professionals helps you stay active and engaged in what’s happening in your community and in your field of work.
4. Connect Online
Your LinkedIn network should represent your real-life network, so start building it. And learn how to use LinkedIn to stay in touch with your network, and mine it for valuable data.
Before you begin connecting with people on LinkedIn, be sure your profile is up to date. Once you’ve done this, begin connecting with new contacts, as well as past colleagues, friends and others you know.
5. Polish Your Resume & LinkedIn Profile
Resume rules have changed since you last updated your document. Do your research and consult expert resources.
Once you have created a resume that positions you as a fit for the perfect job, begin using it. Be sure to adapt it for every job you apply for.
How do you know if it’s working? If you are applying for jobs, and your phone is ringing off the hook, don’t change a thing. Otherwise, go back to the drawing board.
Share it with trusted colleagues, and ask for feedback. One word of caution: Everyone has an opinion about resumes, and the recommendations will sometimes contradict one another.
And even more important than your resume is your LinkedIn profile which is visible 24/7.
Make sure it is robust and you’re taking advantage of all the features available like indicating you are open to new opportunities in the Career Interests section. And don’t forget to add your work to the Featured Section.
6. Take Care of You
As the flight attendants say, “Put your oxygen mask on first so you can better assist those around you.”
This means you should eat well, exercise and spend time doing the things you enjoy.
This also means investing in your skills. Do you have everything you need to be marketable?
One of the best things you can do while unemployed is to take online courses or classes to build new skills.
7. Consider Plan B
Don’t wait until your unemployment or severance runs out to begin creating a backup plan. Start today.
What can I do when unemployment is just one month away?
How will you generate immediate income? Will you take a temp job or work in retail? Would you be willing to take a job outside your current city? Or would you consider starting your own business? It is never too early to begin actively pursuing your plan B options.
8. Find Someone To Hold You Accountable
You will become discouraged – that is just part of the process. You will need the support of someone who can give you a kick in the pants and who will listen to you objectively.
Of all the actions you take while unemployed, this may be the most important.
When you identify and use an accountability partner, you feel rejuvenated and regain your momentum. You also have an external source of motivation and a fresh perspective to draw from.
9. Keep An Open Mind
This isn’t the same as being open to any opportunities. You should stay focused on the type of job you want.
Keeping an open mind means you listen without judgment and don’t make assumptions. If a past colleague presents you with a job opportunity you don’t think is a fit, don’t shut them down. Ask questions, and understand why they are making this recommendation.
Likewise, if someone you know suggests you should speak with one a contact, ask why and how you both would benefit from meeting.
10. Move With a Sense of Urgency
Each day you are unemployed, it becomes more difficult to feel secure in your abilities.
Rejection and dead ends have a way of eroding your self-confidence. The best cure for these feelings is to do something – anything – that makes you feel productive and successful.
Focus on the small wins, such as getting an email response, finding a contact name inside a company you want to work for and attending a networking meeting.
11. And Remember the Other Stuff
The list of things to do while job searching is endless.
You need to develop relationships with recruiters, find the right job boards for the type of work you are looking for, write solid cover letters and thank-you notes, master the art of small talk and thousands of other things that will push you outside your comfort zone.
Take a deep breath, and mentally prepare for this marathon.
This is modified from the original post that appeared on USNews & World Report On Careers
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.