Two months ago I found out that I was getting laid off. In the last Career Zone article, Job Loss Can Happen To Anyone, I shared some of the immediate steps I took once I heard the bad news. I started talking to everyone in my immediate network, I utilized social media to my advantage and I took some career tests offered through The Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) at Drexel. I was off to a good start.
My last day of work was officially April 30, 2010, and I have been adjusting to “working from home”. One of the most important things I have learned in the first two weeks of being unemployed is how easy it can be to slack off or fall into a rut.
Structure Is Important: I have realized that I need structure and routine to be successful. One way for me to find structure is to set the alarm every morning, go to the gym or for a walk in the park and then get out of the house for the day. I have some friends who are job hunting and spend a lot of time at the local Starbucks or coffee shop because of the free wi-fi. Have you ever been in a Starbucks in NYC? They are busy and they are loud. I cannot imagine how anyone could have a phone conversation or get a lot of work done in a Starbucks. I tried this the other day, and I spent most of my time people watching and singing to the music that was playing.
This week, I found something even better. A friend of mine introduced me to a company called Regus. Regus offers office space to individuals and small companies. They have over 1,000 locations in 450 cities and 75 countries. With packages starting at $15 a month, you can get unlimited walk-in access to executive business lounges and cafés with free high-speed internet and complimentary refreshments. In Manhattan there are 19 different Regus locations, so a few days a week I plan to job search from a Regus lounge instead of my sofa or Starbucks. It will also be a great place for me to unwind when dashing across Manhattan between interviews. So far I have been to two Regus Business Lounges in Manhattan and not only was I able to write this article and send out some e-mails, but I can tell it will be a good place to network and make business connections.
Keeping It Together: I have to admit, I had the high hopes of being the most organized job searcher ever. It’s been a struggle for me. I started a spreadsheet with lists of people that I have been reaching out to, results of those conversations and next steps. I have not been good at working off that spreadsheet. I find I am writing things on multiple scraps of paper around my coffee table and then misplacing things. When I do transfer things onto my computer, I put them into my Google Calendar, but half the time I feel like things are falling off of it and in the Bermuda triangle of technology. I need to find another method that will work better for me. I was thinking some sort of binder or day planner.
Networking Success: In past articles I have mentioned the importance of utilizing your network, I wanted to share two examples of how this been successful for me in my job search. As I mentioned last month, when I found out I was going to lose my job, I started to contact many people in me network who might be able to help me. One such person is a fellow Drexel graduate who I knew in college. He holds a senior role in HR at a large media company. We had some brief e-mail communications, but had not gotten a chance to speak on the phone. I am also trying to expand my network by attending industry events. One group I found is called Whine and Dine HR Networking. They hold monthly events in NYC and locations across the country. At my first event, I met a man named Marc who is a Sr. HR Generalist and is in transition as well. We had a great talk at the event and I followed up the next day with an e-mail. We met for coffee and discussed ways in which we can help each other in our transition. Marc introduced me to a friend of his who is an HR Generalist at the same media company I mentioned above. We had a conversation during which he informed me of an opening they had which matched my background. When I followed up with my Drexel contact, he offered to send my resume directly to the recruiter. (Thanks Seth) Within an hour I had a call and phone interview set up for the next morning. Through two different connections in my network I was able to have two strong access points into the company.
Stand Out: Last night I attended a networking event and half the people at the event did not have business cards. It amazed me that someone could be at a networking event with no way to distribute their information to someone of interest. Every job seeker should have some sort of business card. There are plenty of free or cheap ways to get cards printed. Make sure your card clearly describes who you are and what you do. I found a website that had some very creative business card ideas. I am not saying you have to be as creative and spend a lot of money, but make sure your card says more than just your name and number. You want to stand out, not be forgettable.
As the days go on, I have to keep reminding myself that my job search is going to take time and effort. My perfect job isn’t going to land in my lap. I need to make my own opportunities. I have started to get calls and interest, have had a few interviews but the job offers will not happen overnight. While it’s been said that “finding a job is a full time job”, I also need to make sure that I have a little fun and adventure in order to keep my motivation going. I have to make sure I make time for the gym, playing in the park and finding free or cheap activities to participate in.