Army life is dependable work. As long as a service member continues to perform their duties, there will be a reliable paycheck every two weeks. Changes like separation are slow and easy to plan. In the civilian world, this is simply not the case.
Unless they are working on a solid contract, civilian employees can lose their jobs for a number of reasons, even if they are the ideal employee. Financial problems in the company, missed performance targets or even a sudden downsizing can mean that an employee is cleaning up their office unexpectedly. It happens.
Losing a job isn’t something everyone wants to think about, but it’s a good idea to have a plan in place if it does. For those who don’t have a plan in place, here are some things you can do right away to get started on the job hunt.
1. Get your resume in order
It all starts with the resume. The first thing to do is review the resume used to get your old job before updating it. Check it for all the usual stuff: typos, misspellings, occasional errors in your career timeline and things like that. If he was good enough to get a job, he should be good enough to get another one.
The next step is to update it, adding your most recent work history, accomplishments, and any special education or training taken to be the interpreter you were in your last job. If you were promoted from within during this time, make sure that stands out in your work history.
2. Activate your network
Unless you work for a proven company (like Enron), chances are no one in your network knows you’re looking for a job. It’s time to start re-establishing those old connections if you haven’t been following them (you should have, though, and that’s why). Start talking to people and find opportunities in your industry or career field. Just getting together over coffee or lunch can be the start of a new business.
If these networks aren’t giving you a lot of additional leads or connections, it’s time to expand them. Join professional organizations, veterans service organizations, or even former military friends who might point you in the right direction. Engage with them and (this time) remember to keep in touch.
3. Dust off those interview skills
It’s never too early to learn this essential job search skill. For a worker who hasn’t looked for a job in a while, finding thoughtful answers about their goals, future, and strengths may take a little rehearsing. Also, it’s likely that some of these answers have changed since the last time you went looking for a job, and giving an honest answer may require repetition.
Seek the help of a friend, relative, or former colleague to help you with this process. A few mock interview sessions with your new answers will help you sound comfortable and honest when the real interviewer starts asking questions.
4. Find a contract job
This advice is all well and good, but it doesn’t pay the bills. If you need to supplement your unemployment income while looking for work, consider the contract workers we talked about at the beginning of this article. They are still working for a living because the company has signed a contract for this work.
If your career is one that allows companies to hire you for a short-term project for a pre-negotiated sum, then be on the lookout for these opportunities. Being without a full-time job can be depressing and stressful. Even a handful of contracts can keep morale and confidence high.
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