While it is unfortunate that many companies have opted to lay off marketing and public relations professionals, I believe the other side of that coin points to a healthy re-shuffling of resources and creation of new, re-defined career opportunities for many. We have a small, boutique firm in Memphis and have recently had the pleasure of talking with and meeting so many talented people looking for work (some of whom we have helped so don’t despair). It is my belief that these people are going to end up in better places with a renewed interest in finding what really makes them happy and where their talents can be exploited and nurtured. While I am sure it is painful, stressful and discouraging to be laid off, I encourage people to try and view this transition as opportunistic. While many of us need our jobs, how many of us really love our jobs? With that thought in mind, here are some tips I have been sharing with folks in hopes they will leave me with a bit of hope, encouragement and knowledge that every person has something to contribute and combined with a little strategy and footwork, success can be achieved.
1. Be positive and be grateful for any meeting you can get: I cannot stress the importance of being and staying positive in a job search mode. A focus on strengths with a dose of what you are really good at (vs. what sounds good to someone) will leave a potential employer with an honest impression of your skills.
2. Don’t forget the old fashioned hand written thank you note: They stand out as different and refreshing in the days of high tech, social media and texting (please don’t text a potential employer).
3. Put together a job search marketing plan (not just a resume) that includes networking and meeting with the most connected people you can find in business and in social circles or industry circles you are seeking. In the PR world, this means talking with agencies, the media, and anyone who will see you who is high profile and successful. Use referrals and friends to make these contacts so they aren’t “cold.”
4. Ask good questions, take notes and make sure you are listening to the answers. Some of the most talented people I have talked with lately have come to me armed with really good questions which show both preparation and interest.
5. Exercise and take care of yourself during job transitions and find creative outlets to spend time that is productive: It will show.
6. Read, read, and read. Use transition time to research what opportunities are out there and stay current on topics of interest and people of interest. Potential employers want employees who stay current on relevant and important issues.
7. Call on former mentors, colleagues and friends for help but be specific and strategic about what you ask them for.
8. Don’t dwell in the past. No-no’s for meetings include slamming or spamming former employers, negative reasons you were laid off, problems you had, etc. Potential employers are not shrinks and interviews are not therapy sessions.
9. Follow up but don’t be a pest. A simple e-mail followed by a note is sufficient unless that person specifically asks you to follow up.
10. Think more strategically about your career and talk with as many smart people you know about how you might do your job better and how you can work differently.