When you're laid off, you may be tempted to focus on the downside of the event. Getting laid off comes with a lot of negatives; there's no two ways around it.
However, there's a silver lining you shouldn't overlook: You now have a wide open schedule to conduct a job search, giving you a considerable advantage over employed job-seekers.
With a majority of new work coming via networking, you should begin by reaching out to others in your professional and personal circles. Here are five tips for getting your networking off the ground after you get a pink slip.
Develop a game plan
Demetri Georgiadis, managing director of recruitment at CreativeSourcing, says that having an overall strategy and a day-to-day networking schedule is important in looking for a job. Without structure, your motivation might waiver, leaving you vulnerable to bad moods and depression. Georgiadis shares an example of what your day might look like if you're attacking the market full on.
"This week," he says, "I've got five networking events. I've got two volunteer opportunities. I want to spend an hour every morning looking at job listings and a couple hours every afternoon applying."
Also, you have the tactical advantage of applying, say, midweek rather than on the weekend, when everyone else applies. On Monday, HR has 150 emails to go through and they're just looking for ways to get through it. Whereas applying on a Tuesday at 2 p.m. means your application might land in a clean email box.
Hit the switch on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful networking tools at your disposal. "I hope it stays as powerful because before that [networking] was a grind," Georgiadis says.
Some career counselors suggest the first thing you should do after a layoff is let recruiters know you're looking for work, an action LinkedIn makes quick and easy.
To do this, click the Me tab at the top of your LinkedIn profile, then click the View Profile button just beneath your profile image. In the Your Dashboard section of your profile, click Career Interests. Here, you can flip the switch on to let recruiters know you're looking for opportunities.
Meanwhile, before you begin reaching out, make sure your profile is 100 percent up-to-date. Your dashboard has a meter indicating whether you've completed all necessary sections.
Additionally, LinkedIn is a frictionless way of connecting with your network. Among the many ways LinkedIn can help you network:
- Reach out to people you've worked with before. This applies to former colleagues but also acquaintances, previous clients and professional contacts at other companies. Georgiadis suggests saying something like, "Hey, I just want to let you know I'm back on the job market. I know we worked together in the past. If you see anything that could be a fit for me, let me know." If you live in the same area, you may also want to invite them out for coffee.
- Join groups. There's a group or two for everyone on LinkedIn. From supply chain production planning to purchasing textiles to freelance writing, you'll find active individuals coming together to share articles, tips and encouragement on the platform. You can begin your search by clicking the Work button in the upper-right corner of LinkedIn (if you're signed in), then selecting Groups.
- Set up informational interviews. Once you've identified the career and/or company you'd like to pursue, you can look up people who work in said field or the exact company you're interested in. Don't outright ask them for a job. Ask them to meet up for a cup of coffee. Take the opportunity to let them know what you've done and what you'd like to do, while you ask many, many questions about their career path and current role. It's a great way to collect information and plant the seeds that could lead to a future job.
Always be working your network
You should cultivate your network during good times and bad. If you haven't kept up with your network while happily employed, you're not alone. This is a common issue.
When someone in your network asks for a favor, you shouldn't blow them off, Georgiadis says. Later, when you need help, they'll probably remember the way you treated them.
You can easily help your network by offering to pass along someone's resume. "Sometimes people are afraid to hand out referrals," Georgiadis says. They're concerned that a referral will backfire and make them look bad. Keep in mind, networking is a two-way street.
When you ask for help, you should always offer to reciprocate. The best networkers build relationships over many years, which requires a willingness to help others whenever possible.
"A lot of people like to say they don't have time to help a connection," Georgiadis says. "You have five minutes. Everyone has five minutes."
Order new business cards
If all of your professional materials, such as your business cards and email address, are tied to your previous employer, now is a great time to establish your independence. Order new business cards with your personal contact information on them and sign up for a new professional email address that is dedicated to your job search, Georgiadis suggests.
Georgiadis has two suggestions for making your business card stand out:
- Put your vocation on your card, not just your title. Titles are tied to specific companies and roles, whereas a vocation is a through-line in your career and more reflective of who you are. For example, in addition to their company business card, a crime reporter for the Chicago Tribune should also have a business card that simply lists his or her title as Reporter with no mention of the newspaper. The card will remain accurate regardless of shifting circumstances.
- Consider having your skills printed on the back of your card, which, in effect, turns your business card into a tiny resume. For example, a vice president of a supply chain may list the skills "procurement and production planning."
The importance of face time
The key to successfully networking is getting out of your house and not just hiding behind your computer screen, according to Georgiadis. Make time in your schedule for getting lunch with old friends. Join professional organization. Volunteer at the local food bank.
Any life experiences that bring you face to face with other human beings with whom you can share your professional goals is networking in action.