Losing a job can be difficult if you don’t have a game plan. Authors Richard S. Deems, Ph.D. and Terri A. Deems, Ph.D. address the emotional stress of losing a job as well as how to create a plan to get your next job and get back on track in Make Job Loss Work for You: Get Over It and Get Your Career Back on Track.
Dealing with the Emotional
This book does a fantastic job of addressing the emotional side of losing a job. The authors have what they call the Job Loss Cycle, which parallels a lot of the general grief process. It includes:
- Shock and disbelief: Feeling like you’re in a fog. Might also include relief. May last hours or days.
- Anger and resentment: Due to the lack of control you’re feeling, you may direct your anger at the person or company that let you go, or you may keep it internal.
- Denial and bargaining: You may be unable to accept that you no longer have a job.
- Self-doubt and put-downs: You may begin to doubt your abilities and skills.
- Withdrawal and depression: You may be reluctant to start looking for another job.
- Acceptance and affirmation: Finally, you’re ready to move on to the next phase of your life.
Getting into a New Routine
The authors stress the importance of finding a new routine during your job hunt. They say you should structure your day to mimic what you did at work. Richard’s example is that he read the Wall Street Journal each morning at work, so once he was unemployed, he continued reading the newspaper every morning.
They suggest spending four to eight hours a day (five days a week) searching for a job. Break that up with other routines, like exercise and spending time with your family.
Look at Your Skills and Goals
Your next job will be a great opportunity for you to use the skills you’ve learned at past jobs. This book has some great worksheets that help you identify what you’ve done well in the past, as well as determine what you want in your next job.
During the Job Hunt
The authors stress the importance of staying organized while you’re looking for your next job. They suggest keeping a spreadsheet of all jobs you apply for, as well as tracking interviews and communications you’ve had with hiring managers.
Some great tips included on how to beef up your cover letter: For example, using bullet points to highlight your qualifications in your cover letter makes for an easy scan.
The authors also provide five JobGetting steps to help:
- Research the position: Find out who is in charge of hiring, and contact them.
- Research the organization: Go online to learn about the company. Read press releases and social media updates.
- Evaluate your strengths and interests: Determine whether this job would take advantage of your skills and interests.
- Design your positioning strategy: Decide how you will position yourself to be the most sought-after candidate.
- Implement: Deliver your application, and follow up after a few weeks.
Most job seekers wouldn’t think about buying a book to help them find their next role, but this book does a fantastic job of making your work easier. It’s well worth the investment in Make Job Loss Work for You: Get Over It and Get Your Career Back on Track. And one lucky winner will get my review copy! Just leave a comment and I’ll pick a winner randomly on January 18th, 2012.
This is a post by guest columnist, Alison Kenney.
Barbara Ehrenreich continues to challenge the status quo in her newest book, Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. In it she questions the very American trait of putting faith in the power of positive thinking. I’ve been a fan of Ehrenreich’s contrary viewpoint and ideological commitment since reading her bestseller Nickel & Dimed and wanted to see what she had to say in this book. The PR person in me was curious too – I mean what’s wrong with putting a positive spin on things?
It turns out, a lot is wrong with that approach.
In the first chapter, Ehrenreich uses her experience with breast cancer to advocate for questioning received wisdom and digging deeper for answers. She writes about her feelings of anger at being diagnosed with cancer, and simultaneously feeling that it is unacceptable to express that anger. She writes about the “pink ribbon” effect and the widely-repeated notion that breast cancer patients have received a gift, i.e. the cancer gives them a chance to see clearly and fully appreciate their lives, and also the belief among patients that a positive attitude will help them combat their disease, something that can’t be proven scientifically.
Ehrenreich also makes the argument that blind optimism prevents us from making the best decisions. If we focus on the positive, we may do so at the peril of ignoring potential threats and dangers and thereby taking precautions to avoid them. As she points out, “a chief of state does not want to hear a general in the field say that he hopes to win tomorrow’s battle or that he’s visualizing victory; he or she wants one whose plans include the possibility that things may go very badly, and fall-back positions in case they do.”
Ehrenreich’s book is interesting and nuanced; while a positive attitude can be a “good thing,” it shouldn’t trump all other perspectives. The lessons for PR professionals are:
Don’t be self-absorbed –The pursuit of happiness (or PR success) can lead to tunnel vision where we ignore real news and only focus on our self and our personal goals. By acknowledging competitors, preparing for hard questions and using that knowledge to strengthen your position, PR professionals can uncover new opportunities and prepare for market advantage.
Challenge authority — Ehrenreich recommends, “recruiting the observations of other” but cautions readers to avoid “groupthink,” i.e. the adoption and perpetuation of a false belief by a closed group of people despite mounting evidence against the false belief. Ehrenreich’s examples of groupthink gone wrong include the increased use of motivational speakers by corporations in order to pump up workforces demoralized by layoffs and convince both those let go and those remaining that their attitude, and not the relentless pursuit of corporate profit, was responsible for their plight. Ehrenreich also explores how certain Christian “prosperity” churches have gotten into the act, convincing their parishioners that God wants them to be rich and will help them get that way if they just show a little faith by giving money to the church. Her comments on how many of the devout poor were convinced the predatory mortgages they were being offered a few years back were a gift from God were particularly poignant. According to Ehrenreich the focus on individual power over destiny works against genuine social change in which people band together to make a real difference. While it can be tough for marketers to go against the grain, PR can be a very effective way to promote well-considered alternatives to popular trends.
Don’t be afraid to “go negative” –PR campaigns that point out negative aspects of your competitors can be risky – there’s a chance the effort will backfire and earn your competition a sympathy vote, but if your message is one that touches a real concern your audience holds, “going negative” can earn you respect as a voice of reason. For instance, this video from green cleaning product maker Method highlights the negative effects of using chemical cleaners, such as those from rivals like SC Johnson’s Scrubbing Bubbles product. It’s also pretty funny.
The practice of public relations is an exercise in promoting ideas – positive or not. Ehrenreich’s book adds a lesson in balance – learning to realistically assess both positive and negative outcomes to our choices — to the mix.
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.
I recently had the opportunity to read Ford Myers' new book "Get the Job You Want Even When No One's Hiring." If you are looking for a comprehensive resource aimed toward the mid-level to executive professional that goes far beyond resume writing, this book may be just for you.
Myers' book is divided into five main parts: Psychology of job hunting in a down market, career search strategy, explanations and examples of "core job seeker materials," job search tactics, and advice for after you land the job.
Myers' chapter outlining the core job seeker materials is one of the most helpful pieces of the book, in my opinion. Myers believes your resume should be the tool least used in your job search and walks the reader through developing what he considers more important tools including written accomplishments, positioning statements, biographies, target company lists, contact lists, professional references, recommendation letters, scripts for networking, and a tracking system.
The book is loaded with exercises and worksheets to help the reader organize his or her thoughts and develop each piece complete with instructions on how and when to use them. His process is thorough and no doubt, time consuming, but any reader who takes the time to go through the book and prepares the materials will be a very well-prepared candidate.
I love Myers' Perfect Match Cover Letter which he says should be used when responding to a job board posting or a follow-up after a meeting about a position. It's a spin-off from the 'typical' cover letter and a bit longer. If written properly and if the candidate could demonstrate with it (and obviously in follow-up interviews) that he or she truly is a match, the Perfect Match Cover Letter in itself would enough to convince me to seriously consider giving an employment offer.
Note that this book doesn't address many of the challenges of entry-level job seekers. If you are a recent college grad, you may find some of the examples and materials don't apply to you this early in your career.