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20 ways to survive a layoff

Tips for getting back on your feet and into the IT job market from someone who's been there and back

By Ron Nutter, Network World
August 25, 2008 12:04 AM ET

Network World - Editor's note: On Feb. 20, IT manager and Network World columnist Ron Nutter was called into his boss's office and told he was being let go — that day. Once the initial shock wore off, Nutter launched an aggressive search for new employment in the Kansas City area. Over the next 76 days, Nutter applied for 85 jobs, and had 16 interviews before landing a new position. He chronicled the job search in a daily blog. Now that he has had some time to reflect on the experience, Nutter offers these 20 tips for surviving a layoff. 

Podcast: Ups and downs of the IT job search
Ron Nutter discusses the highs and lows of his IT job search with Keith Shaw

1. As you're getting laid off, be sure to take notes

This can be difficult to do, since losing a job can be a very emotional experience. But while everything is still fresh in your mind, write down all the details that you can remember. For example, I was told that I would be paid for the full two-week pay period, plus my remaining vacation and sick time. When my last check arrived, there were discrepancies. Having written notes helped me when I went back and reminded my former boss and the HR folks of their commitment.

2. Take some time for yourself

Take a few days for yourself. A traumatic event has just happened to you and you need to get over the initial shock before jumping into the fray to search for a new job.

3. Review the papers from the company that laid you off

Several important things need to be attended to rather quickly. One is how to file for unemployment. Another is how long your company-paid health insurance will be in force before you have to consider paying for COBRA.

4. Update your resume

This is something that we should all do, but it doesn't always get the attention that it should. I was told a long time ago that your resume should be more than two pages with a max of three bullet points per employer. That may work in some cases but not all.

I have found that some recruiters/employers use software that does a "word count" to look for how many times a particular word, such as Cisco, or a word describing a certain type of experience is listed. I can attest that this is happening to a degree. When I was looking for a prior job, a recruiter had me just about totally rewrite my resume to specifically list all the different Cisco hardware that I had worked with. It was interesting to note how the callbacks increased after I did that.

You may find that it may be necessary to keep more than one type of resume depending on the type(s) of jobs you are looking for, so that the resume is specifically tailored to the type of job you are pursuing.

5. Get a handle on monthly bills

Even though I had a little money put back for a "rainy" day, I went through all my recurring bills to see if there was any room for saving money. One area I looked at was car and home insurance. I found that by shopping around, I was able to keep the same level of auto and homeowners coverage while reducing the amount of both bills. I had been thinking about doing it for a variety of reasons, but being unemployed helped push it to the top of the list.

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