If you’re in a job search after spending 15 years or more at your last company, you’re probably a little overwhelmed by how much things have changed—it’s now a world of LinkedIn referrals, ATS-compatible résumés, and job lead aggregators. It might be tempting to panic and flood the market with your résumé, but take a deep breath and pace yourself using the following steps.
1. Get emotional.
Losing your job, no matter the reason, can be a traumatic experience. It’s a loss like any other, so don’t ignore your emotions. Take stock of how you really feel now that the initial shock has passed. Give yourself time—whether it’s a couple days or a couple weeks—to grieve the loss of security you’ve had for so many years. Vent to your family and close friends, but hold off on connecting with your business network until you’ve had time to work through your feelings. You’ll be asked a lot of questions, and the last thing you want to do is badmouth your former company or say something you’ll regret. This is why it’s important to feel what you feel and then move on.
2. Take stock.
You’re upset about losing your job, but the role probably wasn’t all good, right? Take this time to evaluate the good stuff and the bad. Did you love the flexibility you had? Were you annoyed by your micromanaging boss? Reflect on what worked for you and what didn’t so you know what to look for in your next role. Now that you have several years under your career belt, you should have a good feeling for who you are and what it takes to make you happy. Whether you loved your last job or were miserable, figure out why. It might take a new culture, new pay grade, or new career altogether to make sure you’re fully engaged at your next company.
3. Find your footing.
Once you’ve decided what you want to do, it’s time to figure out the best way to do it. Your interview skills are probably a little rusty, so partner with a career coach to brush up on your technique. Not sure what to ask for in terms of salary and benefits? Do some online research on sites like Salary.com so you’ll feel confident in negotiations. Does the job you want call for technical skills outside the realm of your expertise? See if your local library has free training or sign up for online classes on edX.org or Lynda.com. If you’re clueless about the best way to use LinkedIn, get some pointers from someone who uses it often or check out YouTube for online tutorials. The key is to regain control of your career by taking positive, actionable steps.
4. Place YOU front and center.
Now that you know what you want out of a job, evaluate what you have to offer a company. It’s probably been a few years since you’ve updated your résumé. You might need to review old job descriptions and performance reviews to remember everything. Focus on your accomplishments, i.e., things you did that saved the company money and/or improved processes. Most résumés read like a checklist of daily duties, so do what you can to stand out by highlighting your positive impact. Remember, a lot of people can do the job, but not everyone can do the job well. Your past performance is the best indicator of future success, so focus on your accomplishments in your résumé, your LinkedIn profile, and during the interview.
The job search process will take some getting used to, but take it one day at a time. Following these steps will help you move into a brighter future.
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