Keep the Momentum – What to Do When You’re Desperate


Originally published in The Fauquier Times Democrat, September 2009

So you’ve created your best personal brand, developed a compelling resume package, shopped it around and still no luck. What to do?

* Build up your skills.

* Take online classes to bolster your education and training.

* Look for part-time work in the field you desire.

* Offer to fill in as a temporary worker for staff on maternity leave.

* Offer to volunteer (if finances allow) in the job of your choice.

If you were laid off from a company and have a history of success at that firm, you may be able to work for another part of the same company. Check the company’s web site to review job postings and schedule a meeting with the human resources manager.

Review the company’s biggest competitors and schedule informational interviews with managers in the same type of department from which you were laid off. Frequently, competing firms are eager to hire each other’s staff since laid off employees usually come pre-trained with relevant skills and require little if any ramp up time.

Research the websites of industry trade associations and volunteer to join a workgroup. Participating in a workgroup will get you up to speed on the most pressing issues facing that industry and provide an opportunity to design solutions. Membership also gives you credibility. This is a great way to meet people, learn more about your industry, and shop your skills.

If you have expertise in a certain field, volunteer to write an article for a trade association’s newsletter or journal. Establish yourself as an expert. Local newspapers are also often receptive to publishing good free material and the publicity is priceless.

Use your network. Set up lunches or coffee breaks to re-connect. The more you make people aware of your skills, talents and availability, the more you increase your odds of success.

Keep an open mind and consider all possible employment options. Maybe now is the time to start that small business and work on your own terms.

Call a few recruiters and talk with them about employment options. Make an appointment to meet in person; the more opportunities you have to discuss your skills and interests, the more clear your message becomes.

The most important thing is to keep moving forward. Create a schedule each week with at least three activities per day that get you closer to your goal. At least one activity should involve interacting with another human being. It’s quite easy when you’re unemployed to sit on the couch, watch TV, and let the minutes slowly tick by. Don’t become a victim of inertia!

A day’s schedule could include the following:

  • Research a company’s website, identify the company’s mission and employment needs and craft a responsive cover letter. Add your resume and send it out. (see April 29, 2009 article for developing a resume package)
  • Take an online training course.
  • Contact a company and arrange an informational interview (see June 10, 2009 article for interviewing tips).
  • Have lunch with a former colleague.
  • Participate in a workgroup meeting with an industry association.

Momentum builds on itself so the more energy you put out, the more you increase your opportunities for success.

And remember, even in desperate times, companies are hiring. Good luck!


Shari Jaeger Goodwin owns Jaeger2, a strategic planning and coaching firm. Jaeger2 offers seminars and individual sessions on job coaching, leadership, business/project management, and setting and meeting personal and professional goals. She can be reached at shari@jaeger2.com and Jaeger2.com.