“The Son of Man”, painted by Rene Magritte. Courtesy www.renemagritte.org

How to Keep Going When You Lose Your Job

A friend recently got a laid off from a job he’d held for more than 7 years. No negative reasons, just garden variety downsizing due to a shift in business focus. With a wife, kids and a mortgage, he was pretty stressed about how he’d keep all the plates spinning, and asked my advice for finding his next gig.

I gave him my very best thoughts via the list below. When this happens to you, it might feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room. Breathe. You will survive this. Just like every other project, there is a proven way to succeed: be smart, stay focused, work hard, and think laterally.

Yes, it will suck. Dramatic changes to your routine usually do. But you will get to the other side of this chasm. And you might learn some important lessons.

Update Your LinkedIn Profile

I told him to read my most popular article on LinkedIn. This one.

I wrote this article because I left a job a couple years ago with only a slight idea of what I was going to do. I wish I had known how long it would take before the next thing came along, and someone had said these things to me. So I put them into a LinkedIn article. I was completely surprised how many people felt the same way.

Focus on Contributions

Even if your LinkedIn Profile already looks pretty good, have a look at the experience section. Have you described your personal contributions in each position? Or only the responsibilities?

Your contributions are the things that recruiters and hiring managers really want to see. By reading what you have done in the past, they hope to get a sense of what you might do for them in the future. Beside, so few people write about their contributions you’ll rise head and shoulders above the crowd simply by doing so.

Be sure to add specific, quantified contributions. Don’t be afraid to be verbose about this. Your LinkedIn profile may resemble a Resume or CV. But it is not the same. For one, there is nothing to prevent you from creating a 2-page or even a 10-page Profile. You have the freedom to write as much as you want.

Oh, one more thing about the Profile that is exactly like a CV: you still have to be interesting. So don’t keep write past interesting, Okay?

So in the Experience section, focus on your contributions. Describe how you helped your employers, how you made a difference, what you changed. Try your damndest to quantify the impacts in a way an industry peer would understand. Unit metrics are good: percentage improvements, reduced cost/subscriber/month, or more miles/gallon, those kinds of metrics which can easily be understood in a conference room.

If you still have a job, then you should create a contributions file, right now. Every time you do something a little noteworthy in your job, write it down in your contributions file with all the important details. Write what you did, how you did it, what you were thinking when you did it, what was the quantified impact, what was the company’s reaction. Describe how this contribution help the company.

Then, every few months, review the file and update your LinkedIn profile with the best entries. Or don’t wait, update your LinkedIn Profile immediately. Certainly don’t wait until you are unemployed.

The Objective of Your LinkedIn Profile

Is to get you contacted.

That’s it. Your Profile should get you contacted by recruiters, hiring managers, business partners, vendors, consultants, event organizers, other industry experts, radio talk shows and podcast hosts. Anyone who needs your skills or expertise or reputation or story. By being contacted frequently, you expose yourself to the greatest possible number of opportunities.

As they say, there’s only one thing worse than people talking about you. That’s people NOT talking about you.

If your Profile isn’t getting you contacted, it isn’t doing its job. Fire it! Update it. Do this yourself or get some help. There are approximately 12 zillion experts on LinkedIn who will fix your profile for a fee. Find a decent recommendation for one and work with them. In my opinion, this is probably worth around USD500. But the exact amount will depend on many things. Just think of it as an investment in your future.

Show your Profile Promiscuously

If the objective of your Profile is to get you contacted, then your objective must also that as many people as possible see it. The way to do that is to become active on LinkedIn. LIKE and Share and comment on the articles you read. Post your own updates

Join LinkedIn Groups in your field, lots of groups, and LIKE posts, comment meaningfully and profusely, connect with other frequent contributors, share articles for yourself, write your own.

Engage heavily with other experts in your field. Connect with them, develop relationships with them, tell them what interests you, what you are passionate about, and what you are looking for. They might help you find it if they know what it is.

Put a link to your profile in your email sig file, in your Facebook profile, in your twitter profile, all your social media profiles. If you have a website, put it there.

View the Profiles of Industry Peers and Experts

Whenever you enjoy a comment or an update or an article, view the Profile of the author. See what they’ve done with their Profile, try to pick up tricks and tactics for your own profile.

You might be surprised how often someone whose profile you’ve viewed will quickly send you a connection invitation. (To see who’s viewed your profile, click the number above “who’s viewed your profile” on your LinkedIn homepage.) That tells you a) that they are carefully checking out who’s checking them out, and b) they’re probably a serious networker in your field, which makes them the perfect connection for you. Accept their invitation and engage.

Whenever anyone invites you to connect, accept it if you wish and reply with a short note of thanks, a brief description of your current passion, and an offer to help them with theirs. Write the best conversation starter you can. Include an open-ended question. But do keep it brief, because they might be as busy as you are. Studiously respect their time until you have a more solid relationship.

I actually created sort of a template for when someone invites me to connect. It’s just a short, canned response which I personalize to them after connecting. It’s not actually a template, it’s more of a guideline than a rule. It reminds me of the important things to mention in my brief reply. If their Profile shows them very deeply involved in my field, I might include a link to my website.

Engagement Does Not Require Connection

Whenever someone responds to you in any way, engage. If they like or share or comment on your LinkedIn activity, engage. Send them a note if you can, LIKE and comment on their shares and comments, support whatever they are doing, view their Profile, offer to help in whatever small way you might, especially if the topic interests you; ask to explore things you might do together.

LinkedIn Notifications are another way to engage. Notifications remind you who has birthdays, work anniversaries, job changes, etc. Sometimes LinkedIn even supplies the text, such as “congratulations!”. Of course it’s pretty easy to do better than that. The important part is the engagement.

If you Want to Be Remembered, Write

History remembers people who write. As Nathan Barry wrote, people remember Marco Polo not because he was the first Westerner to visit the Far East, but because he was the first to write about his travels. So, write and publish your own articles. LinkedIn publishing will get you a good audience. You also might try here on Medium.com, reddit, infobarrel.com, Google+, even Facebook.

Setup your own Blog

It’s pretty easy to setup a blog on Blogger.com or WordPress.com. These give you your own platform to say whatever you want. You can keep it totally simple or go as far down the rabbit hole as you’re prepared to with thousands of fabulously creative plugins, themes, apps, branding, media, the whole shooting match.

Start writing about things you know, see and do. When your first begin, don’t be overly concerned for the topics you write about. It may take time to find what really drives your passion, to find your voice. In the meantime, cultivate the Art of Writing. Write every day. Like all knacks, it improves with practice.

Once you’ve published a new article, promote the hell out of it. Share it on all the same sites. Tweet a link to it repeatedly. (You already have a Twitter account, right?) Whenever I publish a new article I link to it in my email sig file and post it to the top of the Summary section of my profile. Often I’ll share it with individuals who are a good match for my target audience. There’s little sense writing if no one reads. So promote!

Create a Company On LinkedIn

For some, an employment gap on your LinkedIn Profile can be problematic. You might be asked awkward questions about what you were doing. But this is an easy situation to avoid. Just create a fictitious company on LinkedIn, then add to the experience section of your profile using this company as the employer, show a start date and no end date. If you are asked about it in an interview call it a personal consultancy.

The company need not be a legal entity. But having a company page on LinkedIn will make it seem more credible. On the LinkedIn home page, just click the “me” icon, then select “create company page” from the menu and follow the steps to set up your company on LinkedIn.

Then, add to your experience section using this company as the employer. Be sure to pick the company name from the LinkedIn popup menu.

You could also create a website for it, add a WordPress blog and use it as your own personal publishing platform. Who knows, it might start you on a path to your own consulting career. That’s what happened to my laid-off friend!

Read My Book

I also sent my friend a free copy of my book, Create an Awesome LinkedIn Profile, specifically for technology workers. It repeats many of the same ideas I’ve written about here.

Lastly, Twitter is a good place to develop a voice and an audience. I sometimes tweet tips for improving your LinkedIn profile. Follow me there, @telecomvoices, to see the tips.

Here is a recent one:

#LinkedInTips 30: Not Everyone on #LinkedIn is a Native English Speaker, so Make Your #Profile Readable https://bangkokbeachtelecom.com/tips/linkedintips/yxhFjcMYH6 …

Follow the link to read more about making your LinkedIn Profile readable.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with someone you love. They might benefit even more than you have. And please do stop by to say hello at Bangkok Beach Telecom.