Create a Job Search Plan in 8 Weeks

Nowadays, many people retain a financial advisor so that they can get help on how to make their money work for them.  To start this process, they first need a plan on how to properly manage their finances.

Likewise, you need a solid plan for your job search in the event you become unemployed.  This has become as important as having a financial plan and something that you cannot put off too long.

The reason it is prudent to have a solid job search plan is that we are living in an uncertain environment where “job security” has become “tenuous employment.”  When companies merge, oftentimes the company being absorbed needs to lay off workers.  When companies are no longer financially viable, they often need to lay off workers.  When companies open offices overseas or in a different state, you need to either relocate or become unemployed.

The future is a temporary workforce where companies can “borrow” skillsets from people for a finite amount of time then release them back into the “resource pool” or unemployed.  If you stop to think about it, it makes perfect sense for companies to do this.  Some reasons that a corporation may want temporary workers include:

  • When a company releases a worker, they won’t have to be liable for unemployment insurance if a third-party hiring firm arranged the acquisition of the consultant.
  • Training costs are reduced as, instead of training “legacy” employees, you can bring in consultants to do the specialized job temporarily.
  • Legacy employees are a cost to employers because of the benefits they must provide to those employees (dental, medical, 401k matching, etc).

Another parameter affecting the future of employment is the evolution of technology.  The post office is being replaced by email, Facebook, Skype and other means of online communication.  Manual documentation processing centers (such as the Department of Motor Vehicles) are being replaced with websites that allow for documentation submission over the web.  Customer service representatives are being replaced with “smart” automated phone systems.  Secretaries are being replaced with voice recognition software that produces documents.

On the one hand, technology has made our lives easier.  On the other hand, it has eliminated certain job functions forever.

Nobody knows what the future holds so you need to develop your job search plan to stay ahead of the possibility of becoming unemployed.  It’s advisable to use a notebook to write down notes so that you have a reference point.  One day, your boss may tap you on the shoulder and inform you that today is your last day due to layoffs.  When that happens, you’ll already have a plan of attack to attain your next job.  You can complete this plan in 8 weeks, but that’s assuming you utilize your spare time wisely.  Only you are your own guarantee of how fast this process will get done.

 Understand Your Unemployment Insurance Situation (1 week)

What is the procedure to apply for unemployment insurance in your state?  Does your employer provide unemployment insurance?  If you’re an employee of your company, you need to investigate NOW if your company has any special procedures to apply for unemployment insurance.

If you’re a contractor your current employer (not the client) may pay unemployment insurance if you’re working on a W2 contract and your contract expires.  For example, if you’re physically working at a JP Morgan office but the company that arranged the job is IT Management Solutions, then you may be able to apply for unemployment insurance against IT Management Solutions NOT JP Morgan.  Review your employer’s website or contact them as to the parameters of you applying for unemployment insurance with them.

Note the application procedure in your notebook as well as any website links for online applications.

Prepare your Resume (Timeframe to complete – 3 weeks)

Resume preparation may be a very laborious process especially if you haven’t changed jobs in a long time.  Yes, there is a lot of work involved but it can be done if you break up the overall process into individual steps:

  1. Write down everything you’ve done at each job you’ve held. This can include accomplishments you’ve achieved or your everyday responsibilities.
  2. Go online and view a sample resume for your chosen career. Note how the samples structure achievements and how they’re worded.  Structure your accomplishments and every-day activities in the same manner.  If this is uncomfortable for you, you may hire a resume service to do your resume.  Be forewarned that, even if you use a service, it is highly-likely that you will need to go through this exercise where you need to identify your accomplishments or every-day responsibilities.
  3. When your resume is done and fully edited you are ready to post it on popular job search websites. These sites include:  Monster, Career Builder, or Indeed.  There are also industry specialized job search sites like Dice.  After posting your resume to these sites, arrange alerts so that you can automatically receive job openings daily, weekly, or monthly.

Get on LinkedIn (2 days)

Establish an account with LinkedIn and update it according to the experience you have on your resume.  A good way to initially connect with people is to connect with current and past co-workers or colleagues you’ve been recently communicating via email.

Attain recommendations from people you worked with in past jobs.  Don’t do this with current co-workers because word may get back to your manager and they will be aware of your job search.  An exception is if the company is going through a lay-off.

Participate in LinkedIn discussion groups.  Post comments and usually people will respond.  When they do, send an invite.

You can also set up job search alerts for employment you’re interested in.

Join Groups (1 week)

Search the internet for professional groups or associations in your area that match your interests.  Sites like LinkedIn or Meetup also have professional associations you can join.

Now is not the time to establish a lifestyle where you go to work then go home.  You need to join groups or get involved in activities outside of your office and family time.

Establish Emergency Fund – NOW! (3 days)

You need to establish an emergency fund that is equal to 6 months of expenses.  The sooner you do this the better.  If you feel that the interest your bank pays is too low, you can investigate online only banks that will offer a higher rate.  They are able to do this due to the fact that they don’t have the expense overhead of managing brick-and-mortar banking locations.  Search the internet for “online banks” and select the one you feel most comfortable with.

At this point, don’t worry about doing a full financial analysis of yourself.  Just list all the expenses you have per month.  Include expenses that you incur at any timeframe (weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, yearly).  For example, if you make a $1000 insurance payment yearly, break this up into 12 monthly payments and list this as part of your monthly expenses.  Multiply the grand total of your monthly expenses by 6 and you will have the MINIMUM amount you need to have saved in your emergency fund.

When going over the items as part of your monthly expenses try to identify areas where you can reduce expenses.  Your utility bills, clothing, and groceries are basic needs for human existence.  Point out any items that are not absolutely critical to you (such as cable TV, video games, eating out, etc).  Some ideas to save on expenses are:

  • Instead of having a home phone, you can just use your cell phone as a primary source of contact.
  • You can cut your home internet service completely and go to your local library or coffee shop and use your phone/tablet to access their FREE wifi network.

How can you replace your income when unemployed? (1 week)

Unemployment insurance usually cushions the blow of being unemployed but it won’t cover everything.  Most likely, there will be a gap where your monthly expenses exceed your unemployment insurance.

To bridge this gap, you need to brainstorm ways to replace this income.  Can you work part-time?  What are you good at or what specialized knowledge do you have?  Can you sell this?  Is there a topic you can blog about?  If so, research how to “monetize” the blog once you create it.  Is there a website you can create featuring a product you can sell?  Again, monetize the site.

You can also search the internet on ways to make money from home but be very careful to avoid scam artists.  They realize there are many unemployed people desperate to make money and are more than happy to rip you off.  Search the internet for “Freelance jobs” to find websites where people are looking to hire part-time freelancers.  Create a profile.

Post your resume on the most popular job search sites (3 days)

Monster, CareerBuilder, and Dice are the more popular websites for you to post your resume.  You can also search the web for specialized websites tailored to your industry.

At least once a week, “refresh” your resume by just uploading it over your current resume.

Eventually, you will receive responses from people.  Do not send your resume until you have the following:

  • The type of employment whether full-time or contractual.  If full-time, find out if there is a “trial” period before you become full-time.  If contractual, find out what the contract length is (6 months, 1 year, etc).
  • The general location of the company they’re working with and and the industry they’re in.  (Usually, they will not give you the exact name for fear you will apply on your own and they will lose commission on submitting you).
  • A job description.
  • You confirm the company that the email is coming from.  There is a potential risk that you could be sending your personal information to a rogue entity.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Once you verify the company is legit, you need to take care in how you respond to your contact.  This is especially true if they are asking for your resume.

Make sure that your resume is in the context of the qualifications that the employer is looking for.  Do not just forward the template resume that you created earlier.  You are looking for quality over quantity and forwarding your resume to 100 companies a day is wasting time.  Its okay to change the verbiage on your resume to match what the employer is looking for – as long as you’re not lying!

Research coming Job Fairs (2 days)

Yes, job fairs are an excellent way to meet people who can help you find that next job.  However, you also don’t want to waste time at a job fair that features employers not related to your field of expertise.

It is your duty to research who’s going to be at the job fair before you go to one.  You may wind up at a fair filled with insurance companies searching for “normal” people to change their careers to become sales agents.

Make sure the job fair you attend will have companies from the industry you want to work in.  Two more options include attending industry-specific job fairs and on-line job fairs in the industry of your specialty.  You can search for these types of job-fairs on the internet.