So there you were… you were gainfully employed and life was good!
Then all of a sudden… BAM! The news that you have been dreading… all of a sudden your life has drastically changed. You became one of the millions of Americans who are unemployed. Although you are not alone in being unemployed, your particular situation is individual to you and your family. So in order to get yourself back on track and gainfully employed, you need to have a PLAN.
In the book “True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence,” the author Tom Morris uses the following acronym:
P – Plan for the Journey
L – Launch into Action
A – Adjust as you go
N – Network with those who know
*(if you would like to order this book click here)
I cannot think of a better situation in order to apply the PLAN than dealing with unemployment. Just like any good plan, you need to spend some time thinking and talking about it. You should also write it down and look at it everyday to make sure you are staying on-track.
So let’s take a look at how developing a PLAN may be beneficial in your situation of unemployment.
First, you need to Plan for the Journey. I can assure you that this road will not be smooth and detour free. You will hit more than one bump in the road and there will be days that you might feel like the journey is simply not worth your time and effort anymore. But if you know this prior to beginning this journey, you will be better prepared to deal with the ups and downs of your unemployment.
Probably the most important facet of planning for the journey is to talk with your family about it. They will be there with you when that road you are traveling gets rough and rugged. Getting them involved in your plan will help to ease everyone’s frustration and should keep the anxiety levels low.
You need to plan out the activities that you plan to engage in as part of your job search. Will you be researching companies in your immediate area or will you be engaged in a national or international search for your next position? Do you need to get any additional training or education? Whatever your job search strategy, make a plan and stick to it.
Second, you need to Launch into action. Everyday you need to get up and spend 8, 9 or 10 hours a day working on getting a job. Think of it this way…getting a job is your job at this point. Nothing will derail your career search faster than lack of action. Apathy and procrastination will be your worst enemies. It will take a great deal of focus and determination to not only launch into action, but to stay active in the process. You won’t get back in the game if you simply wait for your phone to ring.
The best way to make sure you launch into action and stay moving in a positive direction is to develop a daily schedule and stick to it. For example, spend three hours researching and finding opportunities in which to apply. Once you have these opportunities identified, then go through and apply for them one by one. Make sure that you are tailoring your resumes and cover letters to the specific position in which you are applying.
Another suggestion to help you maintain action is to engage an accountability partner. This could be anyone who you know and trust will keep you on task. My suggestion is to have this person be outside of your immediate family. Communicate your daily, weekly and monthly goals to your accountability partner and ask them to hold you to task on these issues by calling, emailing or meeting with them face to face. Your accountability partner can be a tremendous help to you by helping you to manage your tasks.
Next, you need to Adjust as you go. I can assure you that not everything will fall into place as you would like it during this time. For example, you will see the perfect job listed or someone will tell you about it. You will apply and you’ll get an interview (and then another and maybe another). During this time you will begin to “see” yourself in this job. You will be so confident that this job is going to be yours and then it will happen. You will get that rejection letter and you will be back at square one.
Remember, when one door closes another opens! You have to ready to turn on a dime and be ready to head toward that open door. This will happen again and again and again and again. Your ability to not allow the door that just closed to affect you in a negative way, although difficult, will be the difference between success and failure.
You may also need to adjust in different ways to meet your employment needs. For example, you may need to adjust your career trajectory in order to secure another position. This is not such a bad thing. Think of if as an opportunity to utilize your knowledge, skills and abilities in a new and different way or in a different industry. Your ability to take be nimble and recognize opportunities when they present themselves will be important as you move forward in your career.
I have worked with so many professionals who have been in one industry or one job for such a long time that as soon as they lose that job, the first thing that they do is look for the same job with a different company. It is always amazing to me, as a counselor, how difficult it is for these very talented and educated individuals to “see” how their skills and talents may be applicable in a different industry. So take off those blinders and open your mind…don’t ignore an open door just because it may not be in your comfort zone.
Finally, you need to Network with those who know. This, by far, is the most important part of the PLAN. The absolute worst thing that you can do is to become reclusive and shut yourself off from the rest of the world. The more you shut yourself off from the rest of the world, the more time it is going to take for you to reengage in a full time position. Talk with everyone that you know and then ask for referrals to other people that they know that might be able to help. But networking with those who know is much more than just opening up the Rolodex (of facebook or linkedin account) and making phone calls. You also need to expand your network of knowledge.
By reading this and the other articles you have definitely taken the first step in networking with those who know. But there are thousands of other ways that you can build your knowledge by communicating with those who know. Reading articles, visiting with employment counselors at your local workforce office or meeting with unemployment support groups are all ways that you can build your network with those who know. Next week, this writer will be publishing an entire article based on this concept. I can not stress to you enough how difficult this period of your life will be if you try and go it alone. Reach out. Ask for help. You will be surprised with the outcome.
In the meantime start to organize your contacts. Prioritize them in a way that will put those names who you think can help you the most at the top of the list and then work your way down. Remember, everyone that you know is a potential resource for you. If they can not help you, I can assure you that they know someone who can. Make sure that you have the main points of the conversation that you want to have written down before you make the call. This will assure that you stay on task during the conversation and will minimize the “chitchat” and rehashing of the situation you are in due to your job loss. This list can also serve as a structure for a follow-up email.
So there you have it. By developing a PLAN you can create a fluid structure in which you can keep yourself organized and focused during a time of chaos and confusion. Yes, some days it will be difficult to stay focused; your PLAN can help you during these times.