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Laid-off? Now What? 5 Steps to Moving Forward

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by monicadear

There is no stigma or shame associated with your layoff. It happens, and now it's time to look for a new job, either as a permanent employee, a contract employee, consultant or independent contractor. Perhaps your efforts will turn into a full-fledged new business. The main thing for you now is to focus on how you add value to any organization. Identify your unique skillset, "package it", and find people who want to buy it. Your subsequent tasks are to find partners and affiliates who can refer you and who help you sell your product/service (or, if you're job-hunting, find people who recommend you and help you get into the interview process).

Your main steps are to identify what you do best, start networking, find a mentor, find a coach, and build your portfolio.

1) Identify what you do best. Identify your values and then target your market moving forward. When you are as specific as possible about what you offer and how you can help a potential employer or customer, it is easy to "make the sale." If you are vague and don't have laser-sharp focus on what you can offer, you will get vague results.

2) NETWORKING: If you are brand new and have very little contacts, I suggest you look for professional networking at your local BNI (Business Networking International) group. Each chapter has one professional representing each position, e.g. ONE plumber, ONE accountant, ONE interior decorator, etc. They meet weekly, do relationship building, and pass referrals. The times and dates are very flexible, M-F mornings and afternoons, so you might want to contact the president or hospitality chair and attend one of the meetings, introduce yourself, hand out your business card ( is free for 250 cards), and start to build your list of names of other people in your local business community.

Prepare a 30-second "elevator pitch" about your products/services and target audience, as the group typically invites guests and members to introduce themselves. What is a sample 30-second elevator pitch? A sample pitch gets across your business in 30 seconds or less.

Sample pitch for a jewelry business targeting the working woman: My name is _______ and my business ____INSERT NAME OF BUSINESS ____ matches beautiful jewelry to beautiful women. The perfect piece of jewelry adds style and a finishing touch to any working woman's wardrobe, and my customized/unique/gracious designs will make your business associates feel beautiful, confident, and polished. Going from work to play, these versatile pieces make every woman feel beautiful: choose a piece as a gift to mark a special anniversary, birthday, promotion, or landing a deal. My samples are here [bring samples or photo album], and this month we're having a Spring Special of ____ on ______. I'm also looking for X, Y, and Z in the ______ area who need thoughtful gifts for their customers and staff. (pick adjectives, nouns, and rework as necessary)

For other networking resources, I encourage you to start introducing yourself to:

  • Local Chamber of Commerce events in your region
  • NAWBO chapter events and other local women's groups
  • Parent's groups
  • Trade associations
  • Alumni groups
  • Green groups
  • Relevant "MeetUps"

You are always networking, and the best time to be building your network is when you already have a job, but if you're recently laid-off, now's the time to start finding out how you add value to your relationships by building your network.

"Put yourself out there" and grow your relationships with other people.

Do what you can to meet decision-makers and people who control the budget for their organization.

Come up with suggestions that will help other people do their job.

For other ways to build your contacts list: connect with mentors and advisors, start or join a networking group, offer a workshop or business-building get-together, and keep track of who you interact with.

3) Find a mentor. For the mentoring, I highly recommend you apprentice yourself or make an informal connection with someone who you don't compete with, but where you can get more information specific to what you offer. SCORE is an excellent resource if you are considering starting your own business.

4) Find a coach. Coaching is, for me, a seminal part of my career and a major part of my personal development, and working with Rob Seidenspinner of Sage Circle Coaching helped me make huge differences in the way I evaluated my abilities and defined my own success. Find a coach in your region that will help you achieve the results you need. Coaches also act as cheerleaders to celebrate your achievements and as taskmasters to hold you to your goals.

5) Build your portfolio of achievements. When you have specific examples of how you are helpful, you can demonstrate your own "return on investment" to a potential customer or hiring manager. Why should a company hire you? What do you bring to the table? From an employer's perspective, they need staff but they want the very best and most skilled person they can get: if you've identified your unique skillset (and you do have skills), then it's a matter of describing how your participation in a project, campaign, or endeavor created results.

For many employers, they also like to see numbers: "managed an 8-person staff on a $2.2 million project" is more specific than "managed staff on projects". Other ideas on how to quantify: "Volunteer recruitment increased 20% under my management." "Developed X campaign with Y results on a budget of $Z." "60% of my accounts resulted in repeat business for the company."

When you're out of work, the temptation is to think that you can do nothing right and to feel hopeless. Give yourself a few days, or a week or two, to mourn the loss of identity and routine that you had from your former job.

However, once you're ready, it's time to develop a plan with goals, a timeline, deliverables, and measurable outcomes, and then go through your job search the same way you would approach a job — 8 hours a day, contacting 10 – 20 people every day if necessary. Many people are afraid of hearing the word "NO" but in general, you just need one person to say "YES" and the way you find that person is by getting your credentials in front of as many decision-makers as possible.

Good luck!

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