Whether you are a consultant or not, in this economy there is a high likelihood that you may be out of a job. Consulting is one of the most transient careers. Because of that, if you are a consultant looking for a job, this is probably not your first rodeo.
Most consultants know the routine. Networking, living on LinkedIn and enhancing your personal brand are key responsibilities. There are hundreds of other things you should be doing with the goal of landing that job.
And that is truly the goal. While you may have some financial savings to hang out for a while, you eventually need to have an income. Depending you your age, it’s probably too early to retire also. We all need to add value and we want to make a difference.
While the priority is landing a job, there are a lot of alternative job search goals to focus on too. While you are off, it is a great time to focus on these alternative job search goals to round yourself out a little. You may even find it makes you a better consultant.
It may have been something you always said you would do if you had a little more time. Well now is the time. In some states fitness centers are open. But not everyone is comfortable being around too many people right now. There are plenty of other things one can do to get in better shape.
First and foremost, you can start with a healthier diet. Increase the number of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in each meal. Reduce the simple carbs and extra fatty foods. Also, reducing portion sizes can make big strides to improving your diet.
If you want to exercise, there are things you can do away from the fitness center. If you own any exercise equipment, take off everything that is piled on it, dust it off and start using it. Even twenty minutes a day on a consistent basis can make big improvements.
Getting outside in your neighborhood provides a lot of options. Jogging, walking, or bike riding is great exercise. Again, just twenty minutes a day can increase your energy for the day. Once you get into the habit, it gets easier and easier to increase the time and intensity.
On top of all of that, drink plenty of water. Drinking a glass of water before every meal will help you eat smaller portions. It is also a great replacement for soda or alcoholic beverages to help you get in shape.
Learn Some New Skills
Off-time is a great opportunity to learn some new skills. There are a lot of low-cost options for online training including LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Pluralsite. There are many others. You may check out your alma mater for online training that they provide for their alumna.
Depending on your financial ability, there are many certifications that you can study for and take online. Every certification is different. Do an online search to determine the requirements, costs and process for getting any certifications you may be interested in.
In addition to the options above, the internet is a bottomless pit of information. There is an endless stream of information available for free if you simply look for it. There are also hundreds of thousands of informational podcasts out there. You can listen to them while you are out on your daily walks.
Sort Out Your Priorities
This may be the perfect opportunity to do a reset. Sit down and think about your career to date. Think about everything that you have accomplished and what is most meaningful to you.
Think about everything you would like to accomplish by the end of your career. Do you want to continue doing this until the end? Is there anything else you would like to try? Have you been itching to do something for a while that you never had the opportunity before? Maybe now is the time.
If you identify anything and realize you do not have the skills, you now have the time to learn it. Check out some of those online learning options to see how feasible it might be.
Like exercise, getting organized is one of those things many of us put off until someday when we have more time. This is a great chance to organize your closets, drawers, cabinets, basement, etc. Donate or throw out anything you no longer use. Think of options for repurposing things you have been hanging onto but never knew what to do with it.
This is also a great opportunity to get organized professionally. Develop an organization system from a professional perspective. Develop a to do process that helps you stay on top of things. I use Todoist to stay organized and have become an addict to it. There are several similar tools that work well also. Try a few and see which one works best for you.
If you have document templates that you have used in your past, go through those and clean them up. Categorize them and file them in an organized way that will make them easier to search once you are back on the job.
Being between jobs is also an excellent time to clear your mind. Take an occasional afternoon nap. Read a book simply for enjoyment. If you have never meditated before, mediation is a great way to relax, clear your mind and increase your ability to focus.
Things Not to Do
Periods of unemployment can lead to great anxiety. It is as important to keep in mind the things to avoid as it is to know what to do.
Don’t Waste Time Worrying
When you get laid off from work, the paycheck stops. Some people get a severance. Some people get unemployment. Some people can even get help from family. Even when those are involved, they are a poor replacement for getting that regular paycheck. If you were living paycheck to paycheck, it can be an even bigger concern.
It can also be a big hit to your ego. It is not just a job; it is a career. We tend to define ourselves, at least partially, by our vocation. Getting laid off can often be taken as a rejection. It can gnaw at our sense of self-worth.
But worry is a terrible way to deal with it. Worrying is counter-productive. Worrying takes energy away from productive work you can be doing toward your job search.
If you fear you will fall behind on your bills, work with each company that you owe. Talk to your landlord or mortgage holder and let them know your situation. Ask them for some leniency while you find another job.
Check into some of your state and local laws on evictions and utilities. Make sure you know your rights. You may need to cancel some unnecessary things like entertainment or other luxuries. Take control of everything within your control and leave the rest to fate. Worrying will only make it worse.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Job searches can be frustrating. You can have the best interview you have ever had and get a rejection email the next day with no explanation. Many companies get so many applicants that they never get back to the people they choose not to interview.
It often feels like you are sending resumes out into the abyss with no response and, worse, no feedback.
You need to maintain a positive outlook. It is very similar to a sales filter where you get more rejection than response. Being positive is easier said than done, especially if it is not your normal attitude. But the more positive you are about the process, the more positive you will come off in an interview. That will ultimately help your chances of landing a job.
Don’t Set a Deadline for a Job
It is natural to want to set an expectation for getting job. You may say to yourself, “It took me a month to land a job last time I was laid off. I will set a goal to get the next one in a month also.”
The problem is that there is so much out of your control. Just like you cannot set a goal for the weather to be good, you cannot set up a false expectation for getting hired.
Do your best to find a job. Customize your resume and cover letter for each job opening. Study up on interviewing skills and practice them. Persistence will pay off eventually. It may take longer than you expect it to. I will certainly take longer than you want it to. But do not set yourself up for false expectations.
Ask anyone who has ever lost a job before. It is not a comfortable situation to be in. It is usually a big disappoint and scary to look forward. But taking on the right attitude and using the time off to make some personal improvements can be a big help. Once you are hired, you may even look back on it and appreciate the time you had.
What techniques have you used in the past to keep your sanity after losing a job?
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
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