I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Poor Person's Guide to what to do when Laid Off/Fired/Quit

Well here we are at Week Three, if you missed Week 1 and Week 2. I encourage you go back and review. I know what you are thinking and all of the emotions associated with being out of work long term, my job search lasted nine and a half months.

I had never thought that I would be out of full-time work for almost a year. I completed several temp jobs that kept me afloat, but I continuously lived with the insecurity of not having any rights, the knowledge that any day could be my last day, I hated not having a desk to leave a small personal items.

Remember I said Week One to treat your job search as your job until you found employment.

15. Day Fifteen - Task One: Resume looking sparse? Don't have much job experience? Go volunteer at a non profit. I have two purposes for recommending this action. First, You get some experience to bulk up your resume. You can immediately add this to your resume. Second, you are getting out of the house. The house can be a place of sanctuary or feel like a prison. Getting away even one day a week can help kick you out of the doldrums.
Task Two: Revise your goal of XX jobs applied per day.
By now, you probably have a system in place to research a company, revamp your resume and cover letter in a time efficient manner. I think it is time to increase the number of jobs that you are applying for a day. I didn't say double it, but use your judgement. Are you still using the Tracking Sheet? What is your ratio of applications to interviews? Have you been applying only for jobs in your industry?

16. Day Sixteen - Task One: Become an entrepreneur, on a small scale. Generate income. Distribute flyer's at churches or community centers or supermarkets. I ran my own errand business offering cheap daycare, errand running, rides to the doctor, job interviews, tutoring. I did whatever I had to, to bring in money. I did laundry and ironing for .60 cents a pound, and starched shirts for .75 cents each. The dry cleaners will charge at least twice that. What other skills do you have that you can make money utilizing? Tile, drywall, paint, design business cards. Can you sew? Offer to repair clothing, take in or let out pants. Just because the housing market is suffering doesn't mean that people don't need maintenance on their home. Note: We need a new garage door. We can't find anyone to install it - besides Home Depot.
Task Two: Continue meeting your new goal of XX jobs applied per day.

17. Day Seventeen - Task One: Examine your local job market. Are you in a state with high unemployment? Does your city/town/county have high unemployment? Consider the possibility that you may have to re-locate. Expand your job search to the surrounding areas. Start searching at least 90 miles out. If you live in a metro area, (I live outside of Washington, DC, I expanded my job search to other large cities in Maryland - Rockville, Silver Springs, Waldorf, Clinton. In Virginia - Tyson's Corner, Fairfax, Manassas, Woodbridge. These cities are cities they will need workers but many will bypass the smaller cities by focusing on the main metro area instead. Search some of the surrounding cities and suburbs for employment opportunities. I understand that you may not want a long commute but wouldn't you rather have a long commute than no commute at all? Working in a satellite city may be a longer commute but remember you may be going against the flow of traffic.
Task Two: Continue meeting your new goal of XX jobs applied per day.

18. Day Eighteen - Task One: Be ready to negotiate. Have you had an interview yet? What about a second or third interview? Call the Human Resources people and volunteer for a week. Yeah, I said it and here is my reasoning: This shows your dedication and they have a chance to witness your skills and work ethic. Go in for that week and wow them! If they have two candidates, offer to work part time for 90 days with the other candidate (job sharing). One thing you can do is offer to take a smaller salary, but request a salary review after 90 or 120 days. Do anything to get your foot in the door.
Task Two: Continue meeting your new goal of XX jobs applied per day.

19. Day Nineteen - Task One: Get spiritual! Take a you day. This is a good day to begin to express your frustrations in a positive way. Journal-ing is an easy and inexpensive way to convey you feelings and frustrations. Spend an hour praying or doing yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises. If all else fails sleep all day to re-charge your battery. This is your only task for today focus on you. Invest in tweaking your look, die your hair, do your nails, give yourself a facial. Put all of your energy today into you, be selfish.

20. Day Twenty - Task One: Think long and hard about pursuing higher education. It doesn't necessarily have to be a degree program. Would a certificate in (Project Management, Drug Abuse or Mental Health Counseling, Safety Services, Inventory Management, Paralegal Studies, Office Management, Microsoft Office systems, ___________ insert other certificate programs here) make you more competitive? Many people in past recessions have gone back to school to ride out a poor economy but beware of acquiring too many degrees. If you do choose the education option, then apply for every scholarship possible, as well as all Federal Aid that you qualify to receive. You don't want to go to (or back to) school and end up with a huge student loan burden.
Task Two: Research all certificate programs that are offered in your area. What is the average length of these programs? Nine months, six months, two months? Would any of them give you a leg up? What is the cost? Does the school offer job placement assistance? Can you receive federal aid? Will your state pay for it as part of a workforce investment program or worker re-training program?
Task Three: Continue meeting your new goal of XX jobs applied per day.

21. Day Twenty One - Task One: Have a trail run of interview day.
Scenario: A Human Resource person calls. We are interviewing for the position of ___________. We saw you resume on XYZ job board or you applied through our internal system. We would like to meet with you tomorrow morning....
Where are your resumes? Portfolio? Where is your suit? Shoes? Shirt? Accessories - watch, necklace, earrings? Map Quest or Google Maps directions to the interview site? Have a pack of gum? Lotion? Ladies - backup panty hose? Cash for parking lot? Change for meter? How are you wearing your hair? Make-up?
Task Two: Run a drill. Set a time. Pretend like it is a real rush. Get fully dressed and ready to walk out the house in an hour.
(One of my temp gigs was to fill in for the administrative staff assistant who left with very little notice. I assisted the staff in scheduling interviews to fill the position, among other duties. It was frowned upon if people couldn't accommodate themselves to the staff interview times. Think about it, your prospective employer does not want to re-schedule their day to accommodate you. They want you to be flexible and willing. Note: I impressed them with my skills in the short time I was there; I was offered the position. The temp agency I was working with had such a heavy sign on/referral bonus that it would have cost them a lot of money to obtain me.)
Task Three: Continue meeting your new goal of XX jobs applied per day.

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