A few years ago, I woke up one morning after being laid off and realized that I had to start taking more control of my career by becoming more proactive and less reactive. Through a journey of trial and errors, I learned a lot about how to build my personal brand after a layoff, customize my resume and tell my story to hiring managers.
I went on to work for 3 Fortune 500 companies, and had a 6-figure salary and status I never would have dreamed of. In my new book, “The Bounce Back – personal stories of bouncing back higher and faster after a layoff, re-org or career setback” I reveal the success strategies from myself and 13 other professionals and executives who bounced back after a setback. Below are a few of the strategies from the book about how to get hired after a layoff –
1. Telling your story to hiring managers.
The best approach is to always say something positive about your previous position. Talk about how it was either a great company, or how much you enjoyed your role and responsibilities. Make sure that you always have something positive to say about the experience, that you truly believe it and that you are genuine when you talk about it.
Also, if the lay-off had been due to company down-sizing, follow 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 was expected to do the job of two people, then you can say something like, “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.”
2. Customize your resume.
You’ll need to customize your resume for every job you go after. Create a new section on your resume called, Freelance, Consulting and Short-term Positions, and put any of your short term job stints into this section. This way, you’re able to show that you’ve had long term employment with 3-4 companies, plus a few other gigs!
Whenever a potential employer asks you about any of the positions in that category, you can say 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.” Make sure that what you say is always positive, and focused on what you learned or how you contributed.
Also, be sure to focus on results. Instead of writing about responsibilities, you’ll need to write about results you achieved or goals you had met or exceeded. Substantiate everything you write by adding dollars, numbers or percentages. This will show potential employers that you’ve had a history, or pattern of achieving quantifiable results.
3. Securing job leads, referrals and recommendations.
Today, the majority of new employees got their new job because they knew someone inside the company who could give them a positive referral. This means you’ll need to set aside any feelings of insecurity, and reach out to connect with your network. 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. One of my clients 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! 🙂
Sherri Thomas is a Career Strategist, international speaker and best-selling author of “The Bounce Back” and “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand. “ Get more tips and strategies on how you can bounce back from a layoff, re-org, bad manager or other career threatening setback in my new book, “The Bounce Back” now available on AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE. You can download three FREE chapters of THE BOUNCE BACK at http://www.MyBounceBack.com