Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
Getting laid off is one of the most jarring events in your professional life. Even if you know it’s coming, it can still make you feel lost. You might hear a lot of feedback about famous people who used losing a job to launch their most tremendous success.
But at the moment, you probably just want simple, actionable advice for applying for jobs and getting to the next chapter in your career.
While you probably won’t be thankful for this unexpected job search, you can focus on the reality that a layoff is just a temporary setback. It might be overwhelming, but you’re not alone, and you will get back on your career track.
Before panicking about applying to 50 different roles every day, first analyze your finances and career. Make time to consider your budget, apply for unemployment, and contemplate areas where you could be more frugal for now.
You should also take a moment to map out your career goals if you haven’t already. What did you enjoy about your last role, and what would you love to change? Have you always longed to work for a company that supports nature conservation, or perhaps one that would allow you to work remotely?
You can work those into your job search goals and use that information to create an updated resume and cover letter that you can use as a template.
Once you’ve got the logistics and the plan laid out, it’s time to focus on the foundation of a successful online job search. And you shouldn’t feel disheartened about getting laid off — it’s happened to many people. However, you can avoid highlighting it with the right approach.
Consider the following tips to help you find a role that matches your career goals and gets you back to work quickly.
1. Update your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the first places recruiters and hiring managers will look to get a sense of your professional brand and what you can bring to the team. You can make a great impression on potential employers by taking some time to update your profile and make it shine. Use the following tips to ensure your LinkedIn profile is polished and ready to go.
- Make sure your profile is complete and up to date. Include your most relevant skills and experiences.
- Add a professional headshot. Recruiters are more likely to remember candidates with a photo than those without one.
- Utilize keywords throughout your profile and posts that target your ideal career and roles. When recruiters search for candidates with your skills, keywords sprinkled throughout your profile and comments will help ensure that you show up in their results.
2. Build your personal brand
Your brand is more than just your resume and LinkedIn profile. It’s your online reputation, how you interact with coworkers, how you present yourself in person, and even how you dress. Your brand is the sum total of how you present yourself to the world and, most importantly, to potential employers.
If you’re not sure where to start, think about your unique value. What are your strengths? Are you an expert in a particular area? Do you have memorable experiences or skills that make you stand out from the competition?
And if you’ve never worked diligently to manage your online reputation, begin with the following areas.
- Create a professional email address that includes your name ([email protected]), rather than a generic or silly email address.
- Update your social media profiles to reflect your brand. If you’re unsure what that means, look at the profiles of people in your industry who inspire you. What do they share? How often are they active on the site?
- Consider creating a personal website or blog where you can share your insights and experiences. This is a great way to show off your personal brand and build your thought leadership in your industry.
3. Fire up your network
Never underestimate the power of a good network. If you’ve let your networking skills get a bit rusty, focus on the following critical areas for networking success after a layoff.
- Reach out to your friends and family and let them know you’re looking for a job. They might not be able to help you directly, but they can keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities.
- Connect with old colleagues and classmates on LinkedIn. These people already know your work ethic and skills, so they can be a great resource when you’re job searching.
- Join relevant professional groups on LinkedIn and other social media sites. These groups are a great way to stay up to date on industry news and trends, and you never know when you might meet someone who can help you in your job search.
Create Your Online Job Search Plan
One of the best ways to get a job is to treat your job search like a job. If you don’t have any structure, it’ll be easy to let things like follow-up and networking slip through the cracks — not to mention your physical and mental health, which will make it much harder to land a job.
First, set weekly goals and a realistic schedule. Then, treat that time as nonnegotiable the way you would if you clocked in and out every day. And realistically, less is often more when it comes to job searching.
You’re much more likely to meet with success when you spend more time on quality submissions, rather than frantically applying to meet a quota.
1. Create profile and job alerts
Find your favorite legitimate job boards and fill out your profile completely. Most job boards will let you set job alerts, so you’re notified when a job matching your skills and interests is posted. This can substantially cut down on your time spent searching through postings.
2. Devote time to research
If a recruiter or hiring manager asks why you applied, you need to be able to give them an answer that will show your excitement and enthusiasm for the company. You can only do so if you devote time to researching companies and positions thoroughly.
3. Level up your follow-up
Follow-up isn’t just for the thank-you letter after an email. Create an organized way to track your submissions and ensure that you’re reaching out to hiring managers and recruiters after a specific time to express your interest in the role and to follow up on your application.
4. Continue to develop your career
Are there any areas that can make you more marketable or help a recruiter or hiring manager get more excited about hiring you? Perhaps it’s a certification or industry software that would add to your value. Maybe it’s simply staying abreast of industry standards. Hiring managers will be delighted that you’re continuing to work toward your long-term goals.
Finding Your Next Role
While you might not have anticipated this job search, remember that a layoff is only one moment in your career. The news is often startling, but if you lay a solid foundation for your job search and then approach it with a clear strategy, you can find your next role quicker than you think.