Laid Off? Next Steps to Find Your Dream Job in Tech or Sales

Laid Off? Next Steps to Find Your Dream Job in Tech or Sales

The second article in our series to help jobseekers bounce back from a layoff better than ever…

If you’ve ever been laid off, you know it’s a mixed bag of emotions. Refer to Chapter 1 in our series for the first steps to take once you’ve heard the news. After you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, think about how you’re going to use your time. While many throw themselves into an all-consuming job search after being laid off, it may not be the best strategy for you. To avoid added stress, divide your time between jobseeking, upskilling, and self-care. Consider spending time volunteering to benefit your mental health, keep your skills fresh, and expand your network.

Once it’s time to start the job search – use these 9 steps to find the roles you want and make the most out of your mission.

Laid Off Next Steps #1 – Tap into your Network

Start your job search with the familiar – your existing network. In fact, your network is one of the best sources you have for job offers and hires. Do you know how powerful referrals are in helping you get hired? Referrals are 4X more likely to be hired, so lean into your network for them.

It’s not always what you know but who you know that may help you land the job, or at least get your foot in the door. While this doesn’t replace having the right skills and qualifications for the role, leveraging who you know including acquaintances and friends of friends can be your ticket to landing that first interview. People may offer warm introductions to recruiters or hiring managers and if you ask them about their company’s referral program, there is a good chance they can cash in on you landing the job. 

Do your research on open roles and make it easy for people to connect with you online as well as offline. If you’re not particularly social, consider joining shared interest groups. Practice cold outreach on LinkedIn to get out of your comfort zone while you are job hunting. 

Related: Check out this list of community and networking partners available to jobseekers on Hired!

Pro Tip: Networking goes both ways

It’s most effective when you network even when you’re not looking for a new role. Keep in touch with your network to avoid contacting someone only when you’re looking for help. Reshare their posts. Connect them with other professionals in your network you think would be helpful to them. Are they hiring for a role outside of your position or specialty? Refer a qualified candidate to them from your network. Help them too.

Laid Off Next Steps #2 – Leverage Social Media

Get involved on social media to make connections, gain industry insights from other professionals, and learn about new tools to aid in your job search success. 

When it comes to ‘laid off next steps,’ VP of Community Outreach, Raleigh-Durham NC Chapter of Blacks in Technology LaShawnda Rodgers suggests, “#techtwitter is a great resource to help you grow your tech career if you leverage it the right way. I agree tapping into your network is a plus but asking the right questions during informational interviews is profound. When I mentor people who want to grow in tech, I advise them to ask other professionals about: 

  • “a day in their life” at their company
  • strengths needed for someone to excel in the role
  • if the company has events open to the public so you can continue to meet new people.”

Related: Learn more about Hired Partner Blacks in Technology.

Laid Off Next Steps #3 – Set up Informational Interviews

This phase is an excellent opportunity for introspection and asking what you want the next chapter of your professional life to include. Think about what you truly want from your career, what drives you, and even what depletes you. This should help focus your search and your networking efforts.

Informational interviews are a great way to network with people working in areas that interest you. This type of networking allows you to establish valuable connections with contacts who can help further your career and help you land your new role.

Informational interviews are just that – informational. You’re interviewing them – this is not a job interview for you. Expect an opportunity to share a little about your background and what you’re looking for, but overall, use these conversations as opportunities to learn more about a specific company, a role/job title, someone’s career path, and/or what it’s like to work for a start-up versus a global company of tens of thousands. Review their LinkedIn profile. Prepare questions, but keep it conversational. 

Informational interview framework

These informational interviews shouldn’t be long – about 15 minutes is ideal. Follow this framework to help achieve the results you want and gain referrals.

  • Take a minute or two to build rapport with your contact.
  • Next, spend a few minutes on introductions and the topic of the interview. Ask them about themselves and allow them to give their elevator pitch. Acknowledge what they’ve said and then give your elevator pitch. Once the introductions are done, tell them what it is you want to discuss and why.
  • Now spend some time listening to the advice they give about your topic. Take notes!
  • Finally, ask for what you want. Give a summary of the information you were just given to show value and ask about the referral process.
  • Wrap up the conversation. Later on, thank them for their time and insight with a well-crafted email that expresses your goal and the value you offer. 
  • Update your spreadsheet. It will be easier to keep track of your networking activities if you track who you’ve spoken with, how you know/found them, what was discussed, and the next steps or action items. Plus, if you’re required to submit job search activities for unemployment compensation, this documentation is really helpful. 

Laid Off Next Steps #4 – Join Professional Communities

Professional communities are a great place to build your network and meet the people who can help you land the perfect new job. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Laid Off Next Steps #5 – Volunteer: It Pays in a lot of Ways

If you want to achieve more than just an expanded network, consider taking some time to volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to improve yourself all-around and can even help you continue to develop new contacts. Helping others positively benefits your mental health, so why not use your time to give back and help yourself in the process? 

There are many non-profits that may be in need of your skills. Use these opportunities to continue honing those skills and making good use of them. Plus, volunteer work provides the opportunity to expand your network and bank skills and experience for your resume. Plus, when interviewers ask what you’ve been doing during your layoff, you have great responses ready to go. Here are some organizations for volunteering ideas.

Laid Off Next Steps #6 – Check Out Educational Resources

If you want to pivot into a different career path or are interested in obtaining new skills, educational resources are another great place to build your network. 

President of the New England chapter of Blacks in Technology Rosemary Garabot says, “Look around your community for free or low-cost events like BSides. Sign up to pursue a new certification in a program with hands-on labs so you can build new skills.”

Related: Hired Partners offer upskilling, certifications, and bootcamps.

Laid Off Next Steps #7 – Prep for Technical Interviews

Rodgers suggests, “For those pursuing technical roles, it’s important to prepare for technical interviews. Take some time to work on collaborative projects, showcase your work, and get beneficial feedback. GitHub is a great resource where you can virtually work on projects and collaborate with others.”

Related: Hired Partners, such as Educative, Exponent, Pathrise, and Interview Kickstart, offer interview prep. SitePoint offers a library of resources to prep and upskill in various coding languages. In addition, developers on the Hired platform can earn badges for their profile using Hired Assessments. Demonstrating skills through earning badges increases the chances of interview requests and better offers.

Laid Off Next Steps #8 – Refine Your Resume & Elevator Pitch

Your networking conversations and interactions are invaluable for learning the markers of success in the roles you want. Now that you have this information from your network of insiders, use these elements to further refine your resume and elevator pitch to help you stand out in your search.

Laid Off Next Steps #9 – Lock In Your References

Once you start interviewing, references will be critical to the success of your job search. Take time now to lock in key references reinforcing your job performance and work ethic. A reference from your previous manager is also a great tool to ease any concerns about your layoff during the hiring process.

Ask former colleagues to write testimonials about their experiences working with you. You’re not limited to former supervisors. Colleagues you worked with cross-functionally, peers, reports, even former customers and vendors may be willing to testify to positive experiences working with you.

With LinkedIn’s recommendation feature, you can ask for a one while offering to write one for them. Positive testimonials about working with someone never hurt, even if your reference is totally content in their role. 

Ready? It’s Time to Tackle Interviews

Maximizing your network is a powerful tactic to help you not only learn more about different roles and discover open positions – it may also be the key to getting hired. Get ready to win your post-layoff interviews with Chapter 3: Interviewing After a Layoff.

Ready to find your dream job in tech or sales? Turn the job search upside down when you complete a profile on Hired. Employers filter based on your skills and preferences to match with you, and request interviews with the compensation information upfront. 

Sign up with Hired today or re-activate your profile if it’s been a while since you were looking.