Ideally, a job search is something you start on your own terms. You feel ready for a fresh challenge, or a career change, or to move from one company to another.
But the harsh reality is that you won’t always start looking because you want to.
Downsizing, layoffs—and, yes, even getting fired—can happen unexpectedly. With all of these, you may have an inkling of what’s to come, but it can still be pretty shocking.
When this happens, you’ll be tempted to immediately dive into applying. After all, you’re no longer employed—and that wasn’t your plan. But, here’s the thing: The apply-now-and-think-later approach could make your search a lot longer. That’s because being strategic, leaning on your network, and getting referred can expedite the process—a lot.
With that in mind, following this plan will help you move past your unexpected unemployment—and get you on track to end it successfully.
Step 1: Give Yourself a Week to Think About Your Career Path
There are absolutely situations when someone loses their job through no fault of their own. A company folds or a department is eliminated, and there’s nothing to be done. If that’s you—you loved what you did—and there are other companies where you can do similar work, jump to step two.
But other times, upon reflection, you may realize that your prior job wasn’t the right fit. Maybe you’d been unhappy for some time. Maybe you’d started showing up late or begun checking out at meetings. (Maybe a change in attitude or performance was even mentioned when you were let go.)
If that sounds familiar, give yourself some time to think on what you really want to be doing with your life (Here are 30 free ways to get started).
I know it’s annoyingly optimistic to say, “Think of this an opportunity!” but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It is a chance to work at a company with a different culture or learn more about other fields. Maybe you wouldn’t have pursued a career change otherwise—but it turns out, it’s the exact right thing for you.
Taking time to process first means you’re not going to get to the offer stage only to realize you aren’t excited about the role you applied for.
Step 2: Update Your Resume
When you reach out to your contacts, they’re probably going to say, “Send me your resume!” So, instead of connecting, then scrambling, get ready on your end first.
The trick to creating a resume you can send to anyone is to tailor it to a target—be that a given industry, a dream role, or a chance to display your creativity. When you update it, make sure you’re effectively demonstrating your talents and brand.
It could be that a summary statement or some rearranging will be really impactful.
See all 6 steps and the complete TheMuse article