Rebuilding After Layoffs

Sunrise in Oklahoma
Image via ThinkStock

I once heard the phrase, “A job isn’t a job. It’s who you are.”

While I don’t know to whom this quote is attributed, I do know that I don’t agree with it. Because, what happens if you lose your job? Do you lose yourself? Do you lose everything?

Oklahoma City is stuck in a pretty bad place when it comes to layoffs. You don’t have to look very far to find someone – your friend, family member, neighbor, grocery store clerk – who has been affected by the recent downturn in the oil and gas industry. There’s no doubt the oil boom shaped our great state, made millionaires out of men, and cemented us in history. But just as oil made our state, it can break it.

If you’ve been affected by recent layoffs, you know the pain of losing your job. There’s no easy way to put it. It stinks. In an instant, you’re left wondering how you’ll support your family. What will you put on the dinner table? How will you pay the mortgage? What happens to health care? Where do you start your job search?

When you’ve worked in the oil and gas industry for a long time, it’s going to be hard to move on. It just is. And the layoffs at Devon and other large companies may hurt the Oklahoma economy. But, if there’s something we know about Oklahomans it’s that we can rebuild. We team up, we get stronger, and we overcome. We always have, and we always will. It’s who we are.

So, while it may seem overwhelming, there are places to turn and steps you can take to help turn your career around.

Save Money
If you’ve suddenly been let go, don’t let yourself get stuck in an endless cycle of sadness. Instead, take positive steps right away to ensure your family will make it through your unemployment. Apply for unemployment as soon as you can because payment starts the day you apply, not the day you were laid off. Immediately adjust your family’s budget, making cuts where you can and creatively adjusting what you spend. Replace trips to the theater with Redbox movies or dollar theater showings, opt for store brand groceries, and try to cut down on travel so your gas expenses are less.

Update Your Resume
Keeping your resume up-to-date is important, regardless of your job search status. Break out your resume and make a few quick changes that may help you stand out from the competition. Include a brief summary of your top skills to serve as an introduction to a potential employer, and keep your resume confined to no more than two pages. List the top projects you’ve worked on, awards you’ve won, training you’ve received, and results you’ve tracked. To really stand out, include key words from the job description in your resume and cover letter. This will help the employer see how you fit their needs with only a quick glance at your resume.

Brush Up On Your References
If an employer asks for your references, make sure you have a strong list of people who will go to bat for you. Consider including co-workers, previous supervisors, clients you’ve worked closely with, professors, and leaders you’ve met through volunteer activities. Narrow your list down to three top references and contact them to ask for their permission. If you take a few moments to discuss your skills and experience with them, they’ll be better prepared to speak highly of you to any potential employers.

Clean Up Your Social Media
It seems like it goes without saying, but your social media accounts should be as professional as possible. When you apply for a job, employers are likely to look you up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites to get a feel for you as a person. Pictures of your baby, dinner, or funny memes are fine ways to show your personality. But be wary of any pictures that paint you in the wrong light or statuses that demean others. Take a look at your privacy settings and make the necessary adjustments if you don’t want potential employers looking at your pages.

Try Networking and LinkedIn
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” It’s so true. Many times, jobs are created for specific individuals. If you know the right people, you could be on the receiving end of one of those jobs. Take a look at your network – your friends, colleagues, family, social groups, children’s teachers, religious leaders, etc – and see who you know. Let them know you’re looking for work in case they happen to know of a job you may like. Attend professional meetings and networking events. And, don’t forget about LinkedIn. Your profile on LinkedIn can help you meet people who may connect you with job opportunities, so go update your profile and start networking today.

Remember Your Health/Stress
You’re probably stressed. That’s a natural reaction to being laid off, and it’s often unavoidable. Even though everyone feels stressed from time to time, even the smallest of stressors can have a negative effect on your health. In fact, stress can lead to depression, headaches, heart disease, stroke, and stomach disorders. Try to avoid stress as much as possible by setting attainable job search goals, letting go of things you can’t control (like the lay-off), and taking care of your health.

Consider Staffing Agencies
If you’ve never used a staffing agency before, you may be a bit wary of them. That’s natural. But, they can be important stepping stones to landing a permanent job. Consider visiting with agencies near you to find out what jobs they have available. Staffing agencies also help provide you with opportunities to bring home an income with temporary jobs that last a day, week, month, or several months, while you find a full-time job. Remember that many agencies hire for professional positions like accounting and computer sciences, and not all the jobs available are temporary ones.

Local and Online Resources

Most importantly, know that there is hope. Since I wasn’t the biggest fan of the quote that opened this post, I want to leave you with one I wholeheartedly believe in.

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” – Babe Ruth

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Heather is a transplant from Tulsa, OK, who enjoys falling in love with Oklahoma City and all it has to offer. A communications and public relations specialist, Heather is a graduate of the University of Tulsa with degrees in film studies and creative writing. She loves to write, capture her day with photographs and videos, and spend time with her husband Byron and their two rambunctious dogs. They have a brand new baby boy and are navigating the unique world of first-time parenthood. Huge fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder, their favorite thing to do is attend Thunder games.



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