What to Do After You've Been Laid Off

Suddenly Out of Work? Here Are Your New Marching Orders

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Christopher Brady
Christopher Brady

You did all you could to avoid getting canned, but in the end, you were one of a handful asked to pack up and head on down the road. In this economy, you're in good company, as it's not just underperforming employees who are getting the ax. But just because you lost your job doesn't mean you don't have a job to do. Now is not the time to wallow in your plight and slip into obscurity -- and out of contention for that next plum gig, which can be yours if you follow these six steps to make it happen.

Relax. Take a couple of days off. A week if you can manage it. Spend some time with your family or do some things that will allow you to keep your mind off of work. This will energize you and prepare you for what's ahead.

Reevaluate what you do. Think about what you want to do. If you're a project manager, do you really enjoy what you do? Does it best leverage your skill set? This is very important; you may never get a chance to do this again, so make the best of your situation and really do some soul searching to determine your next career step. It may be the same role, but you'll never know if you don't stop and think about it.

Create and design your own personal employment brand. It should showcase your best talents. It should include a resume, references and, if applicable, a portfolio. Just like a corporate brand, you want your own brand to be consistent across media. Define your best skills and make sure your resume, references and portfolio paint the same picture. As a recruiter, I receive many boring and dull resumes. Are you kidding me? You can write copy for large consumer brands that sell all kinds of products, but you can't sell me on why I should hire you as a writer?

Whatever you do, make sure that your personal employment brand sells it. If you are a designer, show it off with your resume and portfolio site. If you are a writer, write copy that really jumps off the page. If you are a business developer or account person, put together a video profile that will sell your employment brand visually. Make sure that your resume emphasizes your strengths, as well as your achievements. Recruiters and HR managers are looking for people who can make a difference in their organization; give them a reason to call you.

Network. Think of all the people you've worked with in the past. Most of them are on social-networking sites. Contact them and let them know that you are looking for work. Send them your resume, links to your profiles on social-networking sites and a portfolio, if you have one. It's always good to have a second set of eyes to view everything before you go live. Employee referrals are normally the easiest hires for agencies and companies. Most companies will pay referral fees as well, so it is a win-win for both of you.

Christopher Brady is managing director of Hire Recruitment, a search firm dedicated to finding world-class talent in the interactive, advertising and media industry. He is also the founder of www.facehire.com.

Broadcast. Online job boards and social-networking sites will give you quick exposure, but make sure your employment brand is ready before you move on to this step. Put your resume on job boards such as Monster.com and broadcast it to the world. A lot of corporate and agency recruiters have access to the job-board databases and sometimes they will know about positions before they get posted and advertised. I also like networking sites such as LinkedIn, because you can do research on companies and also ask for references from previous co-workers and managers. This will give you credibility and your own bragging page that a lot of recruiters and HR folks will look at before they call you.

For instance if a recruiter is looking for an art director in San Francisco, the people who come up first are the ones who have the most references and contacts and who also match the keywords searched. Each user gets his own web address for his profile that he can add to his resume. And do a video profile if you're seeking a position that requires customer-facing and presentation skills.

It's vital to differentiate yourself from the scores of applicants who apply for a job. A recent candidate applying for a digital opening sent a link to a video of himself. It was an excellent way of establishing his personal brand identity -- while getting our attention. Make sure that your video is short and concise -- 30 seconds or less. It is intended to give you an edge over the competition.

Target. So far, everything that you've done will enable employers and recruiters to contact you. This is where most job seekers stop. They wait for calls. Don't do that. Instead, put together a targeted list of companies or agencies that you want to work for. Go to their site directly and submit your resume, profile, and portfolio or reference page. If you don't hear back from the agencies and companies contacted, follow-up via phone or e-mail. This, too, will make you stand out.

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