I found this over at LifeHacker, thought it was a good read.
This type of thing has mostly come up among struggling freelancers out there. Personally, I've taken steps to improve my communication with clients and possible future employers. Part of the change was rebuilding my portfolio site and trying to manage my time between experimental coding projects and building some sort of foundation via exposing what I've learned and already know on stuff I've worked on in the past.
Itís sad to hear about layoffs at companies like Yahoo. Right now it seems like a bad time to be laid off. Iím here to offer some hope.
I laid myself off in February 2002. Remember that time? It was far worse than what weíve seen so far in the economic turmoil of 2008. It seemed like EVERYONE was laid off. There was even a Website, fuckedcompany.com, that tracked layoff after layoff. No good news, like the funding of Automattic, was coming out. 9/11 just happened and it seemed to be particularly dire.
But even in that tough time I found a job working at NEC. Hereís some tips I learned from that time.
1. Donít get lazy. It might seem dire, but if you work it you WILL find a job. Some of my friends went on vacation, started drinking, or generally just hung out with their families. Those people took a LOT longer to find a job than the friends of mine who approached their time off with these tips.
2. Make sure you spend at least 30% of every day trying to find a job. That means working on your resume. Getting your cover letter finished. Sending out resumes. Searching the web for work. Networking. Etc. At first your time spent on these tasks should be a lot higher, but after weeks of watching the job sites for jobs and having your resume checked over by 10 of your friends you will naturally have more time to spend on other things.
3. Start a blog on the field you want to work in. Want to be a PHP programmer? Start a PHP blog and make sure you put world class stuff there. Link to EVERYONE who has a PHP blog. But thatís only the beginning.
4. Do things that will get you to be recognized as a world leader in the field you want to be in. Are you a programmer? Build something and put it up! Share your knowledge on your blog (give tips youíve learned). Are you a program manager? Those jobs will be tougher to find, but you should demonstrate that you are a great manager of people as well as that youíre expert on the kinds of things you want to do. Demo! Demo! Demo!
5. Learn from Loic Le Meur. How did he get thousands of videos uploaded on Seesmic everyday? He networked. He visited tons of journalists, bloggers, executives. He is a consumate networker (you should watch him work the halls here at the World Economic Forum).
6. Do a video everyday on YouTube that demonstrates something you know. Loic does a video everyday. If youíre laid off you have absolutely no excuses. Get a cheap Web cam and get over to YouTube or Seesmic.
7. Show your friends your resume and cover letter. Donít have any friends? Now is the time to make some. Call up some interesting people and ask for an informational interview. This is particularly key if you work at a big company and are getting laid off. I watched people at Microsoft get laid off and the ones who had tons of internal informational interviews got new jobs fast. The key is to meet people everyday and get in front of them. Not to beg for a job, but to do research on the industry you want to work in. Youíd be amazed how showing some interest in your industry will get noticed itself.
8. Do the basics. I got my NEC job by sending a resume into a job that I found on Craigís List. Yes, my blog helped me AFTER I got the interview, but I got the interview just by having a great cover letter and an interesting resume.
9. Donít feel bad about taking government assistance. Youíll need it to pay your bills. I took it and it helped me get over that tough period.
10. Go to any job networking session you learn about. All of them were valuable to me, even though they didnít necessarily bring me a job. Part of it is just feeling like youíre doing everything you can to get back on your feet. Itís an attitude thing. If you have an attitude that youíre going to work at this that will come across and will bring opportunities to you.
11. Go where the money is. If you are laid off and you havenít sent your resume to Matt Mullenweg this morning, why not? People with new funding are the ones who are hiring. You want to work for them, so do what you can to at minimum get an informational interview. Why donít you interview Matt for your blog? You never know, he just might give you an interview and that might lead to a discussion about how you could fit into his company. Even if it doesnít, at least you get an interesting interview with someone in the industry who is seeing success. Other employers want to be like Matt, so if you have some insights to his success you might be surprised by how that gets you job interviews.
12. Take a little bit of time to work on family and health. You probably havenít been paying enough attention to these two things. This is the time to start some healthy habits. Give up smoking, if youíre doing that. Drink less (the temptation will be to drink more, donít give in). Get more exercise. Yes, I should take my own advice (I went for a long walk this morning in Davos and had fish last night).
13. Volunteer. Letís say you are going to be out of work for six months. What could you do with six months of your time? Make sure you come away with it with a great project under your belt. Why not volunteer your time with a charity that could use your skills? Not only will you feel good about yourself, youíll come away with job experience so you wonít have a hole in your resume (building an IT system for the Red Cross looks damn impressive ó saying you were ďon the beachĒ for six months does not). Plus youíll make great friends with people who are trying to improve the world (they are typically the kinds of friends you should have anyway).
14. Make sure you take advantage of any help your former employer is offering. Sometimes they have retraining or other programs that might help you land an even better job.
15. See if you can keep coming into the office. This isnít open to everyone, but at Userland I kept coming into work everyday after the paychecks stopped. That made me feel better, plus it gave me the ability to use phones, stay away from negative situations (do you really want to be around family all day, everyday, who might remind you that you need to find a job?) as well as give you a place to work hard on finding your new job.
16. Go to every business event you can attend. Canít afford to get in? Me neither and I have a job! Hang out in the hallways. You never know who you might meet. At minimum youíll get interesting interviews for your blog. Have your resumes ready.
17. Always have your suit ready. Some interviews happen fast ďcan you be here this afternoon?Ē The one who is ready will get the interview.
On your resume and cover letter. I found a TON of tips online for how to improve yours. Those tips work. Listen to them. My cover letter is what got me my interview (the guy who ran the group told me that later). My cover letterís approach came off of tips I found online. Do Google searches for things like ďhow to write a great cover letter.Ē
Do you have any tips? Help out people by posting your own blogs and linking to them in my comment area here. Good luck and keep your head up. Lots of people have gotten fired. Iíve talked with quite a few CEOs here at the World Economic Forum and youíd be surprised at how many of them have had bad times in their careers.
Iíll be asking business leaders this week for their tips and will come back to this topic later in the week.
Having said that, since we're also talking about being more creative during this economic slump, why not think outside the box of looking to work for another in the first place?
I'm rather amazed that there are plenty of skill sets that are for whatever reason not "conventional" enough to be taught in schools, but the mastery of which would lead to more autonomy.
Most of us are trained to be employees- nothing wrong with that, but I'm convinced that thinking that way is a kind of tunnel vision that keeps many from learning skills that would allow them to carve out there own path to income.
One of them is as close as the computer in front of you. For the first time in history, we are 3 feet in front of the world, yet few learn how to use it in a way to render 1) value to others and 2)income for themselves.
I really think the most people having a problem with the job outlook at the moment (in the tech/programming industry at least..) , are the ones who are a bit further along in their career(s).
Someone who was making big bucks as an upper-level programmer/manager isn't really willing to back down to entry level positions, or can't because they've built up a lot of possessions based on credit, based on their previously high income.
Then again, I think people with a good portfolio, skill-set, and price.. will have no problem in the right market(s). :)