Dear Matt: I lost my job. It was a total shock. Now what?


Matt says: The June jobless rate of 4.5 percent is the lowest in Minnesota since 2007, but despite the strong local job market, layoffs still occur.

How you handle the first few days is critical. This reader was in a management position and doing well, but the company wasn’t. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he hit his networking connections hard. He let his family know and then immediately went out to LinkedIn and changed his profile to say: “Seeking opportunities in [field/job title]”.

People in his network — former co-workers, clients and vendors, and other companies or recruiters searching in his industry — all saw it. People reached out to him, and then he reached out to them. Within a day he had two phone interviews. Within four days he had five interviews lined up and within the first week he had three job offers. He did this all by working his connections. It helped that his résumé was current and ready to send out, but it was his networking, communication with industry professionals and LinkedIn profile and message that helped him get noticed.

“Too many job seekers first look to Internet job boards while neglecting their networking connections to gain access to jobs,” says Greg Simpson, Senior Vice President and Career Transition Practice Leader for Lee Hecht Harrison (, a global career transition and outplacement firm.

Don’t feel sorry for yourself or shy away from letting people know that you are looking. “Members of your existing personal and professional networks, such former co-workers, business associates, vendors, friends and even relatives, will want to help,” says Simpson.

According to LHH research, hiring professionals prefer referrals — introductions by a mutual friend, colleague or associate — to any other method of finding candidates. Through your networking you’ll make connections that will bring you closer to the coveted referral to a targeted company.

When updating your résumé, write down quantifiable accomplishments from your last job. Use differentiators such as leadership, performance levels, productivity, special assignments, awards and training. Your next employer wants to see results, not just a shopping list of duties. Next, develop a self-marketing plan; the job search requires structure. Develop a list of companies you’re targeting based on industry, size and geographic location as well as your objective. Set weekly goals.

Then, assess your financial stability. Be realistic about what you can afford and where you can cut expenses. File your unemployment claim immediately — in many states, there’s a one- to three-week waiting period before checks are issued.

Stay positive, stay aggressive. Your next job is right around the corner — and it just may be better than the opportunity you just lost.


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