This just in. After 31 years of service, MetLife is giving Snoopy his walking papers. The company decided earlier this year to part with most of its U.S. life-insurance business and just the other day MetLife announced that Snoopy’s image will no longer be used on their blimp or in their marketing materials. No word yet regarding his participation in the Macy’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade. Nor have we heard a peep from the Peanuts gang.
MetLife reps recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company is “going in a different direction.” As many seasoned workers can attest to, those words are often code for, “we are looking for fresh ideas and younger talent.”
Given that not even icon Snoopy is safe in his job, now is the time to prepare for the worst or what may be the best thing to happen to you in your career.
It’s been over 25 years since I was terminated from my dream job. Yet, I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was the early ’80s and I was living in Houston during the oil boom and bust. I worked hard to break into the oilfield industry and was anxious to make my mark. Alas that was not going to happen. Fourteen months into my job I heard the words, “We have to let you go.” I can’t tell you what was said after that, as I went into a free fall. Like many, I was a victim of the economy. But that didn’t make me feel any better. Here are some of the lessons I learned about bouncing back after being fired and how to land on your feet.
Don’t Look Back — You’re Not Going That Way
Hearing, “You’re fired,” or words that convey you’re no longer employed can knock the wind out of your sail. You think you’ll never find work again or have a job as good as the one you lost. I can say from experience that most likely this won’t be the case.
To move forward, you have to stop looking backwards. Playing tapes in your head of your job performance, over and over again, will not change the outcome. Nor will commiserating with team members who are still employed. Cut ties with former colleagues so you can avoid being dragged into their workplace drama and instead use this time to make new connections. You can certainly re-engage when you are gainfully re-employed.
Create A “Time Out For A Coffee” Campaign
Some things never change. The best way to find a job is still through people you know. So what do you do if you’ve let your network wither on the vine? You do what I tell my job search coaching clients to do. You create a “Time Out for a Coffee” campaign. Here’s what this looks like.
Make a list of people you know who can connect you with someone who can hire you. Included in this list should be co-workers from former companies, those you attend church or synagogue with, parents of your kid’s friends and anyone else you come in contact with that would be open to making an introduction on your behalf. Next start calling people on this list and invite them to meet for coffee so the two of you can catch up. (Note: this is good to do even if you are employed, as you never know when you’ll need to tap into your network.) Try to line up a minimum of three coffees a week. Some people may invite you to stop by their office and others may meet you at a coffee shop. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say you should always offer to pay for their coffee.
Congratulations! You are now at the coffee shop waiting for your guest to arrive. Here’s how to kick off the conversation. I suggest five to ten minutes exchanging pleasantries. Listen keenly to ways you may be able to help this person. For example, suppose your guest tells you his son is looking at the same college your son is attending. Offering to put his son in touch with your child would be a generous and welcome offer and will set the stage nicely for you to ask for something in return.
Make It Easy For People To Refer You
Be succinct when explaining your current situation and let people know specifically what kind of position you are seeking. Ask if they’d be willing to introduce you to two or three people who would appreciate the value that you can bring to an organization. If no one comes to mind, suggest a few people. (You can come up with these names by looking at their LinkedIn connections prior to your meeting.)
Give people choices. Tell them you’d be happy to send them an introduction they can use to make it easier for them or if they prefer, you can simply use their name when calling.
Beef Up Your LinkedIn Profile
If you’re like Snoopy and it’s been years since you’ve had to look for a job, you probably aren’t aware of the important role LinkedIn is playing today in the hiring arena. Managers and recruiters are mining LinkedIn profiles daily in search of talent. When doing so, they are searching using keywords. Keywords are the search terms they are using to identify qualified candidates. If your LinkedIn profile doesn’t contain the keywords a recruiter is using, your profile will never surface.
You can identify appropriate keywords by looking at job postings in your field. If you look at enough postings, you’ll soon notice a pattern. For example, if you see Microsoft and Excel in most postings, you’ll want to be sure to include these words in your LinkedIn profile.
Let Your Support System Help
Snoopy is lucky. He can lean on the Peanuts Gang for support until another company is willing to throw him a bone. My advice to him and you is to permit others to be of help. No doubt, sometime in the future you’ll find yourself in the position of being able to return the favor.
Did you know I also help leaders accelerate their job searches? Contact me at Roberta@matusonconsulting.com to discuss how we might work together.