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Laid off? Get back on your feet

By Tarun Matta
May 19, 2009 15:29 IST
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This is how a recent conversation played out with one of my friends:

XY: Hey buddy! What's up?
TM: I am pretty close to your office for some personal work. Let's meet up, if you aren't too busy.
XY: I don't work there anymore.
TM: Oh, okay. Did you change jobs? Where are you working these days?
XY: I am looking out for a job actually. I got laid off four months ago.
TM: Four months is a long time. Any success so far?
XY: Nothing much. The job market is really bad these days.
TM: You should have told me earlier. We had an open position in our office. We filled it last month. You would have been a much better fit for that job.

I've known XY for over a decade. He is intelligent, hard-working and loyal. He graduated from top institutes, has worked for some of the best companies and outperformed most of his peers. He is an asset to any organisation he works for.

Unfortunately, he got laid off during these tough economic times. More often layoffs happen because of a change in business environment or poor planning on the part of senior management. They generally do not reflect on an individual's ability or performance. Nobody is immune. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Act professionally
Do not react badly when you get the news. There is no upside to unprofessional behaviour in such a situation. Some people cry, shout at their managers and even go on to the extent of deleting files, etc. Never do any of this. Just accept it and move on. Try to stay in touch with your colleagues and managers. They might help you get placed somewhere else.

Take a break
Take a few days off. Get over the whole thing and move on. It's not a reflection on your skills, qualities, capability, etc. More often lay-offs are a result of changing business conditions. Take the time to introspect and identify the companies, industry you plan to work in.

Create a high-impact CV
These days, for every job that is posted, recruiters get hundreds of CVs. It's difficult for a recruiter to spend more than a couple of minutes on each one. The only way to stand out is to create a high-impact CV that highlights your skill-sets, academic and professional background. The quality of your CV determines the number of interview calls, offers or salary you get at the end of the process. Spend time creating your CV and give it due importance.

There is no shame in being laid-off. It can happen to anyone. Go out and tell everyone that you are looking for a job. Most jobs are not advertised on job portals and get filled through referral networks. There would be loads of job opportunities in organisations where your friends work. In addition, hiring managers prefer to hire candidates who come with a personal recommendation of someone they know.

Apply religiously
You must consider looking for job as full-time work. It's a numbers game. The more you apply, the more interview calls you'll get and the higher your chances of landing a job. Identify top job portals in your job category. Sometimes niche portals are more effective than the bigger job websites.

Create a personal brand
A vast majority of hiring managers try to get more information about candidates from the web -- Google search, Linkedin, etc. Use that to your advantage. Make sure you have a profile that highlights your strengths and background. Ask friends, colleagues, managers to write recommendations for you.

Launch a personal blog around the industry/ sector of choice. Project yourself as a thought leader in your space. It helps grow your network and can open up a plethora of opportunities for you.

Don't worry too much. You will not stay jobless for very long. Take this an opportunity to do things you could never take out time to do earlier. Start a hobby, catch up on your reading/ writing, spend time with loved ones. Spend your time productively.

Tarun Matta is the founder of iimjobs.comĀ -- an exclusive job portal for MBAs from IIMs and other premier business schools in India. He holds a BTech in Computer Science & Engineering from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Indore.

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Tarun Matta