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Laid-off? Prepare for the Work Ahead

As of today, roughly 9.5% of Americans are unemployed.  Times are tough.  People are getting laid off and are struggling to find new jobs.  We try to keep it pretty light-hearted around here, but there’s nothing funny about this struggle.  Finding work in this economy is a challenge and, just like any challenge, it will take time and effort to get the best results.  Here are some steps that may help you get on the path to employment.

Finances:

After losing a job, it’s time to take inventory of your finances and create a personal budget.  With no money coming in, you need to know how much you have and how long it will last.  The average job search lasts about 5 months, so budget accordingly.  One helpful tip is that you can write off the expenses you incur during the job search on your tax return.  This includes travel expenses, parking, resume printing, etc.

Resume:

Make sure your resume is up to date and relevant to the job/industry you want.  When applying for a job, tailor your resume buy using keywords from the job description.  Don’t be afraid to frequently retool the wording.  Hiring managers will sometimes just run a batch of resumes though a keyword program to sort out the most appropriate candidates.  Also, write different cover letters for each job to which you’re applying.  No generic stuff.  That’s not how to grab attention.  Lastly, have a colleague or friend critique your resume.  It never hurts to get someone’s opinion before you send it off. 

Online Search:

Free job sites like monster.com and careerbuilder.com offer broad searching tools, as well as several resources and tips on resumes, cover letters, and interviews.  Another helpful site is careeronestop.org, a government website offering advice and resources for job seekers.  If there are some particular companies that interest you, go directly to their websites and check for available positions.  There are plenty of opportunities that don’t get posted on the more popular job sites.

Networking:

Use your professional network to propel you into the job market and seek out opportunities.  Don’t be shy about letting people know that you’re unemployed.  Roughly 40% of job seekers found their current position through someone they know.  You can also create a profile on professional networking websites like linkedin.com.  It’s a great and free way to see and be seen in the job market and in your respective industry.  Also, if you don’t belong to one already, look for professional organizations to join.  They offer many resources and networking opportunities.

Education:

If you lose your job, but are still in a financially stable position, now may be a good time to go back to school to pick up some new skills and expand your appeal in the job market.  Many colleges and community centers offer adult/continuing education in various fields.  Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time.  If you see available jobs that are beyond your skill set, look into getting those skills.  This can also be a chance to make a move to another industry.  Visit local college and community center websites to find more information on available programs.

These are just a few helpful tips for those entering the job market.  It’s important to treat your job search as if it’s your current job.  Create a schedule and goals for each day.  Finding a job is hard work, especially in today’s competitive environment.  Take care of yourself physically and emotionally, as a lengthy job-search can be stressful.  A lot of people are out there, so do your best to stand out in the crowd.  Good luck!

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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