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7 Immediate Steps After Being Laid Off

by Darrell Gurney, CPC, JCTC

  1. Prepare a "keyword searchable" resume: today's companies and recruiters use databases for information storage and retrieval-quite different from the non-electronic filing cabinets of past recessions. If an appropriate position isn't available immediately, only the right words in your resume will have you "found" in a search later on.

  2. Create a simple cover letter: state positions and industries desired, preferred locations, and salary range. Drop the salary info for letters going directly to companies, but definitely include it for placement services-it's a critical piece of the placement puzzle and they need to know up-front.

  3. E-mail (don't snail-mail) your info to every recruiting firm in your niche: check the yellow pages, recruiter directories (available at your local library), or research online to find firms dealing with what you do, from administrative and clerical employment agencies to retained executive search firms. There are headhunters for every level and discipline, and it's completely FREE for job seekers. If you're open for temporary work (even as a high-level executive), be sure to include appropriate staffing firms.

  4. Now forget about recruiters: you've given them everything they need to determine their ability (or inability) to help you. They live to "place" anyone they can, and will respond accordingly if you have any placement potential. Don't take it personally if you don't get called right away…they're only doing their job. Call to confirm receipt of your info if you like, but just consider it a message in a bottle that, hopefully, will catch some trade winds. If at some point you are contacted, begin to evaluate not only the opportunities presented, but whether or not this recruiter might become a career partner for life. Always wanting to make an immediate placement when possible, they also want to stay permanently connected with great candidates. So, whether or not they land you an immediate position, keep these individuals updated with your particulars…even after you get settled into your next job. Better to cultivate long-term relationships than to start over every time you need help.

  5. Post onto all the free job boards/sites available: there are always the biggies like,,,, but look beyond these into even more specialized niche sites related to your field. You're unemployed, so you might as well get the word out in every way possible. For a fee, you can post to more "exclusive" sites, as well as have your resume "blasted" to thousands of recipients (mostly recruiters).

  6. Network like a shameless self-promoter: There's nothing wrong with being unemployed, so don't consider it a personal black mark. Treat it like a new job. You're now in Sales, or, if it fits better for you, in the Research Department. Make sure that your friends, family, and neighbors know you're on the lookout. Send an e-mail outlining your qualifications and desires and ask them to forward it to anyone they think might be interested. It's called viral marketing. Don't hide from the world, because the miracle connection might be right in front of you…or only three degrees of separation away.

  7. Organize your life around your new job--finding a job: Get up in the morning as usual, exercise/eat on the same schedule, and finish the day to be with your family as before…but plan everything in between for success around landing your next position. You'll stay sane, and be a lot more effective, by keeping your other life structures consistent.

Excerpted from Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written consent from Hunter Arts Publishing. and without prior consent of the author. Darrell W. Gurney, Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC), Certified Jobs and Transition Coach (JCTC), and Licensed Spiritual Counselor (RScP) is Principal of A Permanent Success National Career/Search Partners ( and author of Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters ($14.95, Softcover), available online at or by calling 1-877-4-HEADHUNT. Headhunters Revealed! received the Clarion Award for Best Book by the Association for Women in Communications, has been reviewed in Publishers Weekly and the American Library Association's Booklist, and has been featured in nationally syndicated career columnist Joyce Lain Kennedy's "Careers Now." Sign up for a FREE monthly subscription to The Career Secrets™ Newsletter at © Hunter Arts Publishing.

Need help with your career? Get a Career Coach. Darrell Gurney, CPC, JCTC can help you through your career. Email your inquiries to

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