When the ax falls on a job you’ve had for 13 years – which is what happened to me – it can be pretty devastating. But when my job as a diversity director was eliminated during the 2009 economic crisis, I was determined that this was going to be an opportunity, not a calamity.
Once I absorbed the shock of the layoff, I took stock of the positives. I had spent a lot of time in corporate America in human resources and recruiting positions, so I had many contacts. Of course, I was now a job seeker, so I was on the other side of the fence, trying to get the attention of recruiters. That was my eureka moment: I saw a chance to reverse engineer all my knowledge about hiring, and help other job hunters fine-tune their searches and get their dream jobs. So, I pivoted from looking for a new job to starting my own business, Plum Job Search Strategies, and I’ve never looked back.
Turning lemons into lemonade
Naturally, going from a laid-off worker to a successful business owner didn’t happen overnight. I decided to use LinkedIn to tell my career story, so the first thing I did was make sure that I created a complete and robust LinkedIn profile. I began doing contract work for human resources departments at large companies, so I was able to add those projects to my profile as well, showing that I was staying in the game.
Now that I’m helping job seekers navigate their searches, I use LinkedIn daily. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning – checking up on news, and seeing what my connections are up to. I now spend hours each day on LinkedIn attempting to learn every bell and whistle so that I can be an even better resource for my clients. For example, I tell them that they can’t even begin to search for a job on LinkedIn until their profile is as strong (and professional) as it can be.
Why is this point so important? Because a half-completed profile is like answering the doorbell wearing a bathrobe – it leaves the impression you’re not prepared for what’s next.
Advice for those on the hunt
I always tell clients that a good photo also helps the professional feel of a profile – no selfies or vacation photos, please! The best way to get a good profile photo is, of course, to hire a professional portrait photographer – but if your budget doesn’t allow that, ask a friend to take several dozen pictures of you with a cell phone or good point-and-shoot camera, and don’t stop until you have a few professional-looking choices.
I’m also a big believer in taking advantage of free advice, like the LinkedIn learning webinars. Why not make good use of the tips that LinkedIn is offering about its own tools? I’ve done this myself, and it’s a smart way to make sure you’re using LinkedIn efficiently.
Losing a job can be the beginning of a journey, not the end of the road. In my case, it was a gift, and helped me see the path to my own business. I tell all my clients that with a clear strategy and by carefully marketing themselves, they’ll find this happy ending too.