For many employees in the Memphis area, the story is all too familiar. You wake up one day and go to work, just like it was any other. You wear the same clothes, drive the same route, and eat at the same place for lunch. Things seem fine at first, but something starts to feel a little out of whack.
You’re taken into a large room with your entire department or a small room with just your team. Then and there, you learn that the company has decided to take a new direction. And, the worst part – your job has been eliminated.
So many thoughts go through your head. You’ve been at this job for years. You have children, and a mortgage to pay. You don’t even remember where you put the last copy of your resume. You wonder where to begin.
This is an unfortunate situation many folks in the Mid-South have faced this year. After you’ve had a few days to think things over, you may come to the conclusion that things had been a little strained at your company for a while. Maybe money had been tight in your department, or the culture overall has been stressed. And maybe at the end of this crazy tornado, there’s an opportunity to rebuild your career into something bigger and stronger than it was before.
Start off by perfecting your elevator pitch. What would you say if you were given 30 seconds with your next potential employer? What would you do if you could start your career all over again? Practice your pitch until you can clearly articulate who you are, what type of job you’re looking for, and the relevant experience you have.
Find your latest resume, and update it to reflect your recent accomplishments. Clearly state your career goals near the top in an “objective” section. Be sure to highlight any new training you have participated in, technical skills you’ve acquired, or any community leadership roles you’ve held.
The next step is networking. Start by ordering new business cards. Even though you may no longer have a full-time job, you need a way to give your contact information to those you meet. Your business card can be as simple as your name, email address and phone number. The last thing you want to do at a networking event is explain to a total stranger why you can no longer distribute your corporate business card. Be prepared, so you can avoid this situation altogether.
When you make new contacts, follow up by sending an email and connecting with them on LinkedIn. Look for opportunities to reconnect over lunch, coffee or happy hour. Many folks are willing to lend a hand, even if they don’t know you well. They may have been in the same boat before too.
Setup informational interviews with contacts at companies you’re interested in. They’re an opportunity for you to network with someone new one-on-one for 30 minutes, and ask questions about their job and company’s culture.
Remember that although this is a difficult time, it’s temporary. Get started by reaching out to your existing support system of family, friends and community groups. But, it’s important to move quickly. The faster you start, the easier it will be to transition into your new (and hopefully even better) company and career.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).