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Making your next move after a layoff

By Dan Cobb
March 2, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, with 524,000 axed in December alone. And it isn't projected to be any better in 2009. People who invested years of hard work, loyalty and dedication have been shown the door. Now they're left wondering what their futures hold, not to mention their retirement plans.

My recommendation? The newly unemployed can't afford to miss a beat. Yes, the economy has deteriorated. Yes, more layoffs are coming. Yes, it's harder to find a job now than it was a year ago.

But while some will react like deer in the headlights to being laid off, smart job seekers will get tough. They'll brush up their resumes, hit the job boards, work their social networks and polish their interview skills. I've put together five tips to help the jobless remain calm, collected and focused on finding the next opportunity.

Make finding a job your full-time job

Right now, you might not be employed, but you do have a job. Your job is to find a new one. Don't consider a layoff your time off.

I've spoken to many people who feel they have enough savings to live off of for a month or two before they throw themselves back in the market. But if you let yourself slip into the "break" mentality, you seriously risk losing your edge. And when you do decide to actively pursue a job, it'll be harder to get back into the swing of things.

By immediately pursuing a new position, you'll be much more prepared when the right opportunity comes along. Your readiness will show in your interviews — from the way you present your resume to the way you conduct yourself while under scrutiny, as well as your ability to negotiate.

Keep your spirits up

Being laid off in today's economy could send any level-headed person into a panic. That's why it's important to keep your priorities in check. Keeping your spirits high keeps you motivated to get back out there with the gusto you'll need.

And professionally speaking, your layoff could be a blessing in disguise. Did you feel stifled or bored at your last job? Were company politics dragging you down? Well, then, maybe now's the time to finally find your true calling. Take advantage of this time for self-discovery.

Find a job or position that challenges you in new and exciting ways. Look at different elements of what you already know. For example, a recently laid-off project manager might realize that he prefers hands-on experience to management and find a new career in a more technical position.

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