So You’ve Been Fired… Now What?: How to Get Back in the Game

Experts prep job seekers with tips on re-entering the applicant pool

As if losing your job wasn’t a big enough detour. Now, you have to enter the job market—something you haven’t done in years (possibly decades). You are one of 14.8 million Americans gunning for an opportunity to be employed. With the rise in job search sites and online social networking platforms, trust, the job market is not what it used to be. No worries, we’ve got you covered.

As part of our continuing series, So You’ve Been Fired… Now What?, Blackenterprise.com spoke with reinvention strategist and founder of ME Unlimited Marshawn Evans, CEO of Full Circle NY Karen Nethersole, Esq. and psychologist and professional life coach Dr. Pamela Thompson on ways to mentally prepare for the rebound, scoring points on personal branding and creating a winning resume and cover letter. Here are their tips.

Get Your Head in the Game

Being laid off or fired takes an emotional toll on a person, but don’t let it keep you down. Persevere through the emotional upheaval and use your new-found free time wisely suggests faith-based, clinical psychologist Dr. Thompson.  She recommends reflecting on previous job experiences and noting where improvement is needed. “Take stock of past conflicts on your job or review the kind of criticisms that you used to receive at work so you can again take that to heart and be ready to re-enter with a new mindset,” says Thompson. Also, recalling times when you’ve triumphed over hardships serve as a reminder that you can make it through this bump in the road. Last, and certainly not least, adopt a thankful attitude.  The life coach notes the biblical passage: “Be thankful in all things.”  So despite your current state of unemployment, dust yourself off and remember there’s still a lot of reasons to be grateful.

Establish Your Personal Brand

No matter the platform—LinkedIn, resume or face-to-face encounters—your brand should stand firm with no inconsistencies.  Really think about your brand. Creating a list of skills or even channeling a song you feel captures who you are will help when brainstorming your brand. Your brand should address: who you are, what you do, what you’re known for and what you’re known by. “When you formulate your brand, then you’re able to promote that brand,” says Nethersole. “You have to have a consistent brand for it to be a believable brand.”

Although having a presence online is important, you don’t have to spread yourself thin setting up accounts with every social networking site. Instead, choose methodically. “Professionally, starting with LinkedIn makes more sense than starting with Facebook,” says Evans.  “Also, set up, professionally, profiles on mega-job search sites with job search companies like Monster and Career Builder.”

Create a Slam-Dunk-Worthy Resume

“Wording is key,” says Nethersole. “Now that we’re on the social sites and a lot of companies and HR within those companies are using automated systems that pick up words, key words are essential.” Make sure you are familiar with the job in which you are applying so you can infuse some of the key words used in the job posting in your resume. Including active verbs is vital; without them you risk having your resume discarded.

Secondly, don’t get caught up on the dates. Instead, emphasize what you did during the duration of your employment at a specific company. Be sure to highlights big accomplishments that benefitted the company thanks to your hard work as well as your day-to-day duties.

Third, having several versions of your resume handy is advised. When filling in your resume, you might have to alter certain aspects of your resume to highlight the skill set that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for at the time. Hiring companies can usually tell when you’ve sent them a generic resume.

Cover All the Bases with Your Cover letter

Although reviewing a cover letter template is a good start, you need to make sure you are not turning in a standardized letter to each prospective employer. Employers can tell when you’ve taken the time to research the company because it’s reflected in your cover letter. Utilize those active verbs here as well.

Ace the Interview

You can’t fit everything on your resume so now is the time to elaborate on what you can contribute. “In your interview, you need to be very proactive in understanding how to communicate the value that you bring to the table, but also the value of what you’ve learned in your experiences in the past and how it’s relevant to this place,” says Evans.

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