Could there be a worse time to look for a job? When I lost my job last month, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like this was the worst possible time to be on the market.
I saw the writing on the wall a week into the pandemic. When I asked a manager in my company if I should be looking, he said, “Well . . . I wouldn’t not be looking.”
Sure enough, a few days later I joined the more than 26 million Americans who have lost their jobs in the past five weeks.
Needless to say, my nerves were wracked. I’m a husband and a dad to two young kids. Not to mention that the world seemed to be falling apart at the seams. But I was lucky enough to find a job quickly—this job, at MGR360, where I’ll train, support, and place world-class people managers.
As someone who’s been in recruiting for years and who just went through a COVID-era job search, let me give you my best advice if you are currently seeking employment.
1. Finding a job is a job (so treat it like one).
The very next day after I lost my job, I woke up, did my daily routine, and started working on finding a job. When you’re seeking employment, you have to go to “work” every day, just like it were your full-time job.
That DOESN’T mean just sending out resumés all day. It means spending your “workday” taking strategic action, like reaching out to recruiters and your network, figuring out how to best sell your abilities, tailoring your applications, and meeting with people.
And start practicing your interview skills. More on that in a coming blog post.
2. Adjust your mindset.
I promise not to go full “power of positive thinking” on you, but the mindset you bring to a job search does make a significant difference.
When I found out I was likely to lose my job, I felt the ground drop out beneath my feet. I felt scared and not too optimistic, especially right now. But after years of helping people find new jobs, I knew better than to let my thinking, and my speech, go to a dark place. It’s like Brian Tracy once said: “Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true.”
First, I find it helpful to convince yourself that you still have a job for as long as you can. As soon as you’re let go, convince yourself that this job search is a big project your boss gave you, and you’re going to crush it. Think and talk about your job search positively, even if you don’t feel it. I told my wife, “I’m going to get me a job.” It made me feel empowered. And it made her a lot less nervous.
The other critical mindset piece is to not treat interactions with employers as if you’re asking for a favor. You’re not. The best people I’ve interviewed know this. They’re not coming to the employer like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. They interview the company too, seeking a good alignment between where they want to go and where the company wants to go. If you join the company and do your job, the company makes more money after all—so act like that.
3. Don’t assume people know you’re looking.
Even before I officially lost my job, I was reaching out to people to let them know I was open to new opportunities. I emailed every recruiter who had contacted me in the past two years. Once I was officially laid off, it became my mission to let every one of my connections know that I was seeking new employment.
Since 70 percent of jobs (or more by some estimates) are never formally listed anywhere, reaching out to people in your network should be a core component of your search.
I didn’t necessarily want companies to know that I’d lost my job in those first days, though. It is useful to negotiate from a position of power. But after you’re out of a job for more than a couple of weeks, it’s usually wise to post publicly about your search so you get maximum reach into your network.
There is no shame in letting people know you’re looking for a new job. Invariably, someone’s going to have a lead on a new opportunity.
And while people get you more jobs than technology, you can also seek out geography- and industry-specific job boards.
For example, here in Austin, you can check out:
Sites like Drafted, which specifically support people affected by layoffs, can also be useful.
It was thanks to one of my connections that MGR30 came onto my radar. Turns out, my skill set was an oddly perfect match for what they were looking for—a background in both teaching and recruiting.
I had another offer on the table, from one of the biggest companies in the world, but I chose MGR360.
This opportunity was a better fit for my own goals. Here, I’ll be training people managers in interactive workshops, with the goal of helping them realize their own potential and improve their results. And I’ll also be helping great managers find their next opportunity.
Are you hiring right now?
If so, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can work with you to sort through resumés and supply great talent from our extensive network.
And if you’re looking for a job, leave a comment below—we’ll see if we can help.