What to do when you’re caught in the RIF – Strategy to land on your feet quickly

The expected or unexpected RIF (reduction in force or layoff), and what comes next. 

For most people, what comes next is anxiety and worry; why me and what now?  Here is a basic strategy that everyone can execute to be ready to find that next job in the event the unexpected happens.

First- Accept it and get your mind right.

I know there are 5 stages to grief.  You are welcome to spend as much time as you want on the first 4 stages but do your best to hurry up and get to acceptance because the quicker you get there, the quicker you can execute your plan to find your next gig.  Whether you like it or not, whether you agree or you don’t, you’re here and this event happened for a reason.  Believe that something good will come from it.  That is a good start to having the right mindset. 

Step 2- Get your resume set (PS- your resume should already be set).

One thing I encourage everyone to do is to keep your resume updated, even if you have the best job in the world.  Take your resume out every quarter or every six months, add accomplishments, promotions, awards, etc.  If the worst that comes of that is that you get to remind yourself that you’ve accomplished some good stuff, great.  At worst, it will be ready if you need it.  Do yourself a big favor though and proof read it for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.  I’ve seen seasoned, accomplished people get knocked out of consideration for a sloppy resume. 

Step 3- Figure out your personal commercial.

You need to be able to talk about yourself and what you’ve accomplished, balancing confidence, credibility and capability without being an egomaniac.  You also need to be able to describe how you did what you did in a fair amount of detail.  I’ve witnessed plenty of people not make it through the interview at this stage- they were great at telling what they accomplished but couldn’t describe how.  If you can’t describe the how, you probably didn’t do it (at least that is the conclusion the interviewer draws).

Step 4- Reach into your network.

You want to start to spread the word about the fact you are looking- Linkedin and Facebook are great for this.  With tools like Linkedin you can quickly get to a large number of people.  Remember that while you might want to see if they or their company is in a position to hire you, you can also tap into their network as well.  Asking questions like what companies are recruiting or calling them might be a great way to get job leads as well.

Step 5- Check the job posting but cheat the system.

Many job postings are garbage- they are old, expired or never existed in the first place.  And for the job postings that are real you have several obstacles in your way; things like getting your resume seen in the first place, having the person reading it actually recognize you as a strong candidate just to name a few.  So, cheat the system.  Here is my favorite cheat…if you see a job posting you like and are a good fit for (if you aren’t a fit, don’t do this)…figure out who the likely hiring manager is and call that person directly.  Don’t mention or acknowledge the posting- call because you’ve done your homework, you love what the company is doing and you’d like to be part of the team.

Step 6- Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you don’t have a job; you just have a different job…research.  You need to research your market, companies that are growing or getting funded and figure out people you’d like to work with- then reach out to those groups directly.

Step 7- Have some fun and be awesome!

You have to know that at the end of this process, if you do it right and are consistent in approach, you will end up with a good role.  It might not be your ideal job but who knows?  Maybe it just is your ideal job.

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