Jobless? My nine-step plan

John Heckers //September 15, 2010//

Jobless? My nine-step plan

John Heckers //September 15, 2010//

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed are solely those of John Heckers.

CNN recently did a series of print and TV articles on a new and alarming phenomena in America. Many recruiters and employers are refusing to hire or refer the long-term unemployed. Some have posted ads that tell the unemployed not to apply.

This is especially prevalent in the executive ranks, where about 25 percent of executives are currently unemployed or under-employed — perhaps more. With such a large field to choose from, employers are often rejecting those who have sat out for a while, although sitting out for a while is common.

Here are some things to do so that you aren’t among those who are out for a very long time.

1). Look outside your industry. In Colorado, alternative energy, medical devices, bioscience, technology, oil and gas, and health care are the most active industries. We’re not a big manufacturing town. Look at how your career is portable across industries and look outside of an industry, like manufacturing or telecom, that has taken a hit.

2). Ramp up your networking now. Get to every networking event you can. Meet and greet as many people as possible at each networking event. You don’t have time to socialize a great deal at these things. Meet someone, get their story, agree to speak later to set up for coffee, and move on. You’re there to network, not to be a social butterfly.

3). Stop going it alone. You need help and you need it now. If you’ve just been laid off, hire a Transition Coach within two weeks of your pink slip. (Don’t just use the outplacement that your company gave you. Hire a specialist now.) If you’ve been out for a while, get professional help at once. You wouldn’t try your own murder case, would you? Nor would you hire the cheapest attorney to try a murder case for you. This is almost as deadly serious. You are fighting for your very career life. What you do and how you do it will determine your success in life. Use a professional to help you before it is too late.

4). Mobilize your family and friends. Yes, I know that you’ve been self sufficient all your life. Get over it. You are in deep trouble. Mobilize your family and friends to help you in every way possible, from internet research to personal introductions. If you don’t ask, they probably won’t know what you need. Ask.

5). Call in your “markers.” You’ve done many favors for people in your career as an executive. It is time to call in some of those “markers.” Call the people you have helped over the years and let them know that this is payback time. Be crass about it if you must. You don’t have time to pussyfoot around now. Tell people that you were there for them, now it is time to be there for you.

6). Constantly be doing something. You don’t have time to rest now. Get up in the morning, dress in business casual attire, and get to work on the hardest job you’ll ever have – finding a job. Don’t even think about turning on the TV or playing games on your computer until the evening. Act just as if you’re on the job.

7). Apply what you have learned as an executive. To be a successful executive you set goals, and set out a plan to reach them. This is no different. Set a goal for finding a job. Make it reasonable, but make it a “stretch goal.” Now work your behind off to reach that goal and don’t blame others or the economy if you don’t reach it. Hold yourself accountable.

8). Be accountable each week to someone else. We hold our clients accountable each and every week to report their progress to us. Having someone hold you accountable will truly kick you in the behind to get moving and make progress. If your coach doesn’t hold you accountable, find one who will. If you’re not using a coach, put together a group of executives who will hold you accountable on a weekly basis for what you did the previous week.

9). Don’t get warm and fuzzy. As I say to my clients, “if you want warm and fuzzy, please go buy a teddy bear.” Don’t get into a “support group” where they’ll tell you it is OK to be unemployed. It isn’t. And you don’t need to reduce that motivating anxiety about your real position at this time by one iota.

Being unemployed is no fun. I know that. However, you won’t get anywhere by sitting around and watching Oprah, or crying to other unemployed people about how much it stinks. Get off your duff and get out there in every possible way right now. Stop reading this article and get busy!

How are your executive resume and bio? John has put together a free resume course for you that cuts through the bull and produces a resume that works. To get this resource, go to .
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