- Our Netiquette columnists offer advice on digital job-hunting tools
- Follow companies on LinkedIn to see what current employees are in your circle
- While there's no shame in being let go, your cover letter should shimmer with hirability
- Massive job listing sites are often disorganized, crowded and teeming with humanity
Last week, we gave you digital tips and tricks for surviving a layoff -- the first seven days, at least. Now, here we are again, an entire Wednesday later, prepared to help you gird your loins for the job search ahead.
So, wipe the Cheeto dust from your fingers and peel yourself out of that body-shaped imprint you've made on your bed. Your bout in the ranks of the unemployed probably won't be short -- on average, unemployed workers have been jobless for 40 weeks, a number that hasn't changed much in the last six months.
But of course, you should aim to make it as brief as possible. "The longer you're laid off, the harder it is to get back in the market," says Nicole Williams, LinkedIn's connection director. Act fast to get the ball rolling before you forget what it feels like to wear real pants and chit-chat over a box of donuts (with other people, that is).
One positive note: The whole ordeal might not be as miserable as you think ("funemployment," anyone?). Last year, an Australian study found that unemployed folks were actually happier than the drones stuck in miserable jobs. Maybe this'll be the best thing that ever happened to you. (Cheerleader jump! Cheerleader jump! Rah! Rah!)
Read on for a few social network to-dos to get you back in the rat race.
Target your pleas.
Last week we covered strategically letting your circles know about the change in employment status (in short: Be brief, be upbeat, and only tell those who could specifically help you). A similar principle is at play as you're seeking out potential business contacts to bug.
"A mistake a lot of people make is just contacting everyone they can find with a generic note," Williams says. A better approach: Figure out something (or someone) you have in common with the individual, and send a personalized note along with your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn request.
"You have to get them to be interested in your situation," she adds, "because people are busy, and why should they worry about your career?"
Stalk potential employers.
Not literally, of course. But when job-searching online, most people tend to think about job boards such as Monster.com and Craigslist.com.
While there's nothing wrong with keeping an eye out for appropriate openings (and plenty of people indeed find new gigs on such sites), massive job listings are often a slang word that rhymes with "duster-duck" -- meaning they're disorganized, crowded and teeming with humanity.
Sometimes a job will be posted days after the hiring managers have made a decision, when corporate policy requires it. Months-old listings will mysteriously float to the top long after they've been filled.
And in the journalism world, for example, a listing on industry tracker MediaBistro.com can yield hundreds of enthusiastic applications. Go ahead and wade in the morass of job aggregators, but we recommend taking a more targeted approach in the meantime.
Brainstorm some corporations that should be dying to hire you, and figure out how you can keep dibs on them. "That way you'll be privy to any movement in jobs or anything they're doing industry-wise," Williams says.
If the company's striking out on a new project that matches your skills, you have an in to request an informational interview with a higher-up over there, for example. And if you note that someone with your dream job just departed for Company X, you can swoop in.
Poke around their website for an RSS feed of company news and add it to your own feed reader (such as Google Reader) for easy stalk-age. Follow the company on LinkedIn (go to the company tab along the top, search, and follow) to see who's leaving (and who will, presumably, leave behind a vacancy), and what current employees are in your circle -- they're your goldmines in the "Whom do I address this cover letter to?" game.
Downplay the layoff in your job apps.
Here's the thing: If you're the right candidate, then you're the right candidate -- whether you're currently at another company or currently signing up for market research focus groups to pay the bills between rounds of job-searching.
While there's no shame in having been let go (at this point, we all know upstanding employees who fell victim to the economy), your cover letter should shimmer with hireability, not with the grayish Braille of woe-is-me teardrops.
Think of it this way: If you come across as defensive, insecure or bitter about the layoff, you'll raise all sorts of red flags in a hiring manager's mind.
But if you're bursting with confidence and talent and good ideas (and, oh yeah, it comes up in the interview that you're looking for a new job because you don't have one but the job termination was circumstantial and, hey, here's a recommendation letter from your former boss), you seem like the kind of employee who always lands on his feet. And in this earthquake of an economy, a little catlike agility is a very good thing.