One of the things that stayed gnawing at my brain through the rest of the day was how I spend my time - day in and day out - thinking of ways to better prepare my students for their careers and callings, whether it be their first job out of college or to improve their standing in their current positions; and how I probably never think about what I need to do for my students to prepare them for when they lose their job. As I pondered this issue, I came up with a list of things I would teach in a new course entitled, "Getting Ready for Unemployment" (not sure it would be a highly enrolled course). Here are my ideas, that I am sure all of us can use...just in case:
- start building your network NOW, and keep it fresh - remember its just now who you know, but really who knows you. Get in front of the right people; start meeting with people today; and don't lose touch with some of the more important people in your Rolodex
- learn to use social networking - I have seen more and more people using LinkedIn and Twitter to make connections and find positions. Find your sweet spot in the massive world of social networking and start using it on a regular basis
- get comfortable talking with people - that first interview is critical if you want to be considered for a call back. Practice, practice, practice this skill...it does not necessarily come easily
- start saving today - having a backup of cash will allow you to not panic in the search process and help everyone on your family be a little more relaxed
- develop resiliency - the road to finding another job can be long and hard. Being patient; being able to deal with rejection; and staying the course are all a part of the job search
- learn how to ask for help - for those of us who have been successful in life, this can be very difficult. The cult of the "self-made person" permeates our culture and keeps us from being the best we can be. Start NOW asking for help so when you are a little more in need, it is not so difficult to do so
- believe in the power of hope - this is not an "I wish it would happen" hope but a powerful hope that believes in the possibilities of the future. For me, that hope lays in my faith and the understanding that there is a God who loves and cares for me. Hope gets people through really hard times
- become comfortable with the human condition - instead of blaming yourself or others for tough times, understand that "life happens" and no one in particular has it out for you. It's not karma; it's not something you did or didn't do; it's not that God has it out for you...sometimes life happens to you and to me - and we have to live through it.
- build a killer resume - find a great resume writer, build a powerful document that highlights everything great about you, and then keep it up to date.
I learned a lot by being with this great group of people, but by far the greatest lesson I took away from my time a the Job Seekers Network was that when people in need come together around a common purpose, great things can happen. Watching them support one another...watching them cheer one another on...watching them struggle together...and watching them just BE together gave me hope - hope for each of them, hope for myself, and hope that this community knows how to care for its people.