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5 Things to Do If You Lose Your Job

August 23, 2010

Plus two things to do if you don’t.

Let’s go about this in reverse order.  Here are two things you absolutely must do if you are currently employed.  First, if you have a job, I recommend you do everything you can to keep it.  The job market is flooded with talented people looking for work, and unless you’re WAY out to the right of the bell curve on talent/results/experience/overall impressiveness, chances are there’s somebody out there who’s (1) also out of work, (2) competing with you for the same job you’re looking at, and (3) much more qualified than you are.

Second, if you have a job, I recommend you dust off your resume, and “get it out there” (more on that below) anyway.  I know what you’re thinking; they’d never let you go.  What would they do without you?  You’re much too valuable for them to even consider letting go.  They’d be foolish.  You’re their top producer.  Team player.  Long history with them.  You’ve built up credit, and not that you need to cash in on that credit, but you could if you needed to.  They’d never let you go.

Trust me, get your resume out there anyway1.  I can assure you that whatever loyalty you personally feel to them is secondary to their (justifiable) loyalty to their own self-interests.  If it makes you feel any better just remember it’s not personal, it’s just business.

However, suppose you aren’t one of the 90.4% of employed workers, and instead are in the 9.6% of unemployed workers2.  Now what do you do?

First, you network.  The network of relationships you’ve built with friends and co-workers over the years are probably going to be your greatest asset in finding another job3.  Creating and nurturing this network is more akin to the “Tao of Networking” (that is, it’s more of a way of life, something you do each and every day) than it is something you just up and decide to do.  However, if you’ve been a veritable Ebenezer Scrooge you’re entire life, it’s time to change your ways.  If you haven’t done so already, build your network.  Networking is to job searching what location is to real estate.

Second, if you haven’t already done so, get your resume written.

Question: Do you hire a professional resume writer to write it for you?  My personal opinion is that nobody knows you better than you, so this is something a reasonably capable person ought to be able to handle on their own.  Also, there’s tons of good advice on how to write a good resume available for free on the net, so it doesn’t seem like a smart play to me to pay for that service.  Then again, due to my current circumstances (no job, up to my eyeballs in debt), I also don’t have the luxury of unlimited resources, so my hand was a bit forced.  And finally, since I’m in sales I figure that if I can’t sell myself I have bigger problems to worry about.  Suffice it to say, I wrote my own resume.  However, I should also point out that I don’t have a job yet, so I guess it comes down to personal preference and judgement4.

Third, once your resume is ready, “get it out there”.  Here’s three good places to start:

My personal opinion is that LinkedIn is like a stuffy, no action version of Facebook (e.g., where you have “friends” on Facebook, you have “Connections” on LinkedIn).  I rarely go there, and I’ve never really used it for anything.  However, I did take advantage of their “upload your resume” feature, and by doing so, created an opportunity for me.  A recruiter from Morgan Hunter (props to Melanie Franklin) found my resume, contacted me, and put me in front of a potential employer.  I didn’t get the job, but at least I had a shot at it, and it wouldn’t have happened without LinkedIn.

Definitely one of the better job-search sites out there.  However, it still leaves a little to be desired.  Example, go to CareerBuilder, type in “Sales” in the keywords section, “Kansas City, MO” in the location column, and choose “sales” from the Careers by Category section:  As of today (8/20/2010), CareerBuilder reports there are 1,324 sales jobs in the KC area.  But that’s not quite accurate.  Look closer.  On the first page (of 53) alone, there are four jobs from American Family Insurance.  Three of them are for the same position.  Three of the same jobs are for Strategic Campaigns.  Two for Outdoor Travel Centers, two for “Immediate Openings”, and two for 20/20 Communications.  This trend continues throughout the job search.  So, you gotta use the “Advanced Search” section (which seems to be harder to find than it ought to be), where you can start to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Just for the hell of it, I told CareerBuilder to find sales jobs in KC that paid between $70,000 and $120,000 per year.  It culled 280 jobs, leaving me with 1,044 to choose from.  But another quick glance through the list reveals the same pattern; this time there are five job postings from American Family Insurance.

The point is, when you first get started with CareerBuilder, prepare to work your ass off.  It’ll take you ALL DAY to sort through this list the first time you go through it.  Constantly filling out your personal history on website after website; it’s a fucking grind.  Deal with it, and gut it out.  The good news is that by the end of the first week you’ll be able to scan through all 700+ (just narrowing the search to “Full Time” jobs trims another 300 jobs from that initial search) in about 5 minutes, if that long.  Note: Still, having narrowed the search yet again, there are 5 job postings for the same position from AT&T on page #1.  Like I said, it’s a grind.

Using basically the same search criteria as above (Catergory: Sales; Location: Kansas*; Keyword: Sales) turned up 148 results.

*Note* doesn’t allow you to search by City and State, so you have to search by State alone.  The Kansas search turned up 148 jobs, the Missouri search turned up 411 jobs.  Of those 411 jobs, page #1 (Ten “regular” results, and two “pay-for-prominent-location-at-the-top-of-the-list” results) shows that 2/3 (8 of the 12) are definitely *not* in Kansas City, and two are unknown.  Only two are listed as being in the KC area.  This trend seems to continue throughout the list, so once again, you just gotta patiently sort through it, and grind it out.

That pretty much sums up the “good” places to post your resume, in my opinion.  There are others though, and to be fair I should tell you what I know about them as well.

I never logged into Monster once, even though I have (or at least had, I didn’t even check) an account there from several years ago.  Reason: I spoke with two different recruiters who told me in no uncertain terms that if they were looking for work, they’d post their resumes on CareerBuilder, and not Monster.  I haven’t had much luck with any of them though, so it’s hard to imagine that Monster could be significantly better or worse.

The Ladders
I signed up for the Ladders a month ago, and opted for their 6-month @ $20/month plan.  Total investment $120.  Remember, my background is in sales, so that’s the sort of jobs I was looking for.  And having looked for sales jobs on the Ladders, my impression is this: If you are an engineer, have 5-10 years experience in IT or Medical related technologies, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a job.  But if you don’t – and I don’t – then you’re up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  I’ve submitted 25 applications through the Ladders, not quite a job per day, but close, and the result has been…

Nothing.  No replies, no e-mails, no “go pound sand”, nothing.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  They do have a free resume critique service, so I thought, “Why not?”, and submitted my resume for review.  I kinda knew what to expect as a buddy of mine had recently signed up for The Ladders a week before I did, and had his resume critiqued.  I was mainly curious to see whether or not they had a standardized, “boilerplate” critique, or if they actually took the time to read the resume, and critique it on its own merits.  As it turns out, they judge each resume according to its own merits, but be apprised that no matter how good your resume is, their job is to convince you that it’s absolute garbage, and that if you want to find a job, you need their help.  Their pitch is this:

Only the BEST RESUMES – NOT CANDIDATES – get the most attention and eventually an interview.

And the price for this service?

The investment to create your resume is $695.00. This may seem like a lot at first, but if you stop and think about it for a moment, it’s really a modest investment. A resume that gets you a job is PRICELESS. If it shortens your job search by two days, or results even in a 1% increase in salary, it pays for itself. An ineffective resume can cost thousands of dollars in lost time, income, and opportunity.

Nick Corcodilos of Ask The Headhunter has written a little bit about The Ladders, and it was interesting and relevant enough that I thought I’d share:

Also revealing is the company’s recent use-burn-and-dump campaign to start an executive-resume-writing business. Ladders partnered with independent, professional resume writers, picked their brains, then dumped them. According to several of these folks, TheLadders arranged to send them resume business in exchange for a reasonable commission on every resume sale. TheLadders’ own members got resume-writing services and everyone was happy. But, when the biz took off, TheWilyLadders raised its cut of every resume sale and eventually hired its own writing staff. Apparently, the quality of service has gone out the window. Customers no longer get direct contact with the writers doing their resumes. Apparently, the new bullpen at TheLadders works only from forms customers fill out.

There’s a really good follow-up post where readers can submit comments about their experience with The Ladders.  The one below is fairly typical:

By Terri January 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm
Thank you for that note about Ladders. I too was a victim of this site. I am doing everything I can to warn others.

I paid over $1500. to have resume writers re-write my resume and cover letters. Only to have virtually no responses. They never let me talk directly to the resume writers until I called and emailed several times a day. I would never recommend them to write anything!

I then rewrote it myself and long story short, got hits from companies and recruiters. As a matter of fact I rewrote a resume for a former colleague of mine. He had a writer review it and they told him it was one of the best they ever saw.

While using Ladders, over one year, I have three recruiters contact me and no responses to the many jobs I applied to on line.

I now use and others as the jobs posted on Ladders are not unique to them.

Indeed (more than just a perfect segue)

Despite the fact that Indeed doesn’t allow you to post a resume, it’s my favorite job-search site.  It’s very simple, very easy to use, and it finds job postings from other job search sites.  Their slogan is, “one search. all jobs”.  A job search on indeed will find jobs posted on other job sites like Monster, CareerBuilder, The Ladders,, etc.

They also have some cool little, “FYI” bits of information on there such as, “Job Market Competition”.  This shows how many unemployed people there are per job in any given city.  The best place to be unemployed looks to be Washington DC, which has one unemployed person per job.  The worst: Miami, FL or Detroit, MI, with 8 people competing for each job in each city.  Another cool FYI is “Salary Information”.  FYI

Fourth, apply for unemployment at the Department of Labor for the state you live in.  You can use this website to find the unique website for your state.  The money is woefully inadequate, but when every dollar counts, you may as well take all the help you can get.  I thought I’d be too proud to ever do this, but I was online the same night I was let go, hoping like hell I could get some dollars coming my way.


I don’t know.  Fifth should probably be something positive like, “Don’t give up”, or “When one door closes, another door opens”, or something like that.  But the fact is, being unemployed sucks.  Not having health insurance sucks (and I swear by the hammer of Thor, the first ‘sumbitch to tell me that we – the people – shouldn’t have a public health insurance option can kiss my ass), and generally speaking the whole experience has been less than fulfilling.

Anyway, if you’re unemployed, don’t give up.  When one door closes, another door opens.  I know how much better those platitude make me feel, so I figured I’d pass them along.

I’ll let ya’ll know when I figure out how to become un-unemployed.

  1. I write from experience.  I was laid off from the company I worked for for nearly 7 years on Tues, July 20th.  I didn’t see it coming.  It’s now August 20th (I almost titled this post, “30 Days of Night”, it feels just about that shitty), and I still don’t have a job.  It sucks.  Trust me on this.
  2. The calculation for the number of unemployed workers is not based on the total population of the United States.  That is, it’s not just as simple as multiplying 300,000,000 (approximate US pop) x .096 to determine that there are 28.8 million people unemployed.  That isn’t how they do it, because it’d be wrong.  As it turns out, the calculations used to determine the number of unemployed people at (a much more accurate) 14.6 million are a bit more involved and complicated than that. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)  Relevant Factors: Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.”  Also, “Labor force measures are based on the civilian non-institutional population 16 years old and over. Excluded are persons under 16 years of age, all persons confined to institutions such as nursing homes and prisons, and persons on active duty in the Armed Forces. As mentioned previously, the labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder – those who have no job and are not looking for one – are counted as “not in the labor force.” Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired.
  3. There are basically two leads left open to me.  One I want so bad I’d sell a kidney to get it.  The other…it’s a job.  The significance though is that the link between them is networking.
  4. Regarding personal preference and judgment, I shared my resume with a few friends for feedback, and every one of them found something different to comment on and/or correct.  I’m not making this up; I shared it with no less than 5 different people, and every one of them had a different – and by different, I mean wildly different – opinion on how to best write my resume.  I ended up with multiple suggestions, many of them completely incompatible with the others, and so wasn’t able to get any clarity or insight to the THE correct way to do it, and I ended up doing it myself.

6 Responses to “ 5 Things to Do If You Lose Your Job ”

  1. Hollywood Hood on August 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Great post – and perhaps one of the most useful to grace the froth – writing about what you know, what you’re learning about and being brutally honest makes for compelling stuff. Keep up the good ‘work’ while you search….(insert platitude here).

  2. Mr. Smarty Pants on August 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks Hollywood, appreciate the feedback!

  3. Lauren McCabe on August 24, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Your post is incredibly informative– so thorough in your examination of the job sites! This is more useful than an article I recently read about job search sites in Time.

    And I definitely agree with the “dust of your resume” bit of advice, not only because work stability is volatile (you never what will happen to your job), but also because you never know what great opportunity is around the corner. Remaining open to all opportunities, regardless of your employment status, is a great way to remain a competitive candidate– in that upper curve of your bell graph.

    Oh, and I love the crickets! Very nice. :-)


  4. Mr. Smarty Pants on August 25, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thanks Lauren ~ I checked out your KODA blog, very nicely done!

    Cool idea for a blog!

  5. Zoe on August 27, 2010 at 3:12 am

    I’d also like to add to your list of sites to search online for jobs. Thanks for the article, good list to have a multi-faceted job search!

  6. Cheryl on August 31, 2010 at 8:55 am

    So many companies are cutting jobs citing economic uncertainty. The first thing I did was get my resume professionally done. It only took me 2 months to find a new accounting job in Fort Lauderdale, FL. - – professional resume writer