Having a frightening time getting hired after you’ve been laid off?
A few years ago, I woke up one morning after being laid off, and realized that I had to stop being so reactive in my career and become more proactive. I went on to work for 3 Fortune 500 companies and achieved a status and 6-figure salary I never thought possible, and throughout my journey I’ve learned how to position myself to hiring managers, how to set myself up for success with new managers, and how to create my own career opportunities.
So how did I get hired after being laid off? By following a 3-step action plan –
1. Telling my story.
What would I say to people about the lay-offs? I found the best approach was to always say something positive about my previous position. I would talk about how it was either a great company, or how much I loved my role and responsibilities. I made sure that I always had something positive to say about the experience, that I truly believed it and that I was genuine when I talked about it.
Also, if the lay-off had been due to company down-sizing, I followed up by saying something like, “Unfortunately, the company went through tough economic times and my position was (cut, outsourced, or whatever.) If the lay-off was due to lack of performance like the time I was hired at an Advertising Agency where I expected to do the job of two people, then I said, “I didn’t realize when I took the position that I was expected to fill the shoes of two employees. Even though I had some big results and was good at my job, I just simply couldn’t fill both of their shoes.”
Even though I experienced a laid off, I’ve had many job offers since then because I’ve learned how to tell my story and position myself in a positive way to hiring managers.
2. Customizing my resume.
I customized my resume for every job I went after. I created a new section on my resume called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions. I put any of my short term job stints into this section. This way, I was showing that I had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few other gigs!
Whenever a potential employer asked about any of the positions in that category, I just said something like, I worked there for a few months and really enjoyed it! I learned such and such, or I contributed by doing this or that. I made sure that what I said was always positive, and focused on what I learned or how I contributed.
I also focused on results. Instead of writing about responsibilities, I wrote about results I had achieved or goals I had met or exceeded. I substantiated everything I wrote by adding dollars, numbers or percentages. This helped me show that I had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.
3. Getting job leads, referrals and recommendations.
I always called up past employers, managers and customers to catch up with them and let them know that I was ready for the next chapter in my career. I got out in the world and networked and socialized. It helped me build my confidence, practice telling my story and helped me learn about career opportunities.
You can prepare for interviews by practicing your story out loud, and be sure to talk about what you’ve learned and how you added value to other organizations. Ask thoughtful questions to the hiring manager. Be confident in your strengths and abilities. Show that you’re grateful and appreciative for the opportunities you’ve had in your career. Networking can happen at any time. I had a client who entered a golf tournament and got paired up with a VP of a large retail corporation. They both shared stories about their golf game and career. After the 18th hole, my client handed the VP his business card and said, If anything opens up in your organization, let me know. I’d love to join your team. Four weeks later the VP hired him.
With the right story, resume and attitude you can get hired again.
Decide how you’re going to tell your career story and tell it in the most positive way possible. Practice saying it out loud so that you sound confident, believable and genuinely authentic during your interviews and networking opportunities.
Your new career is out there waiting for you… you just need to go get it!