Re-Starting Your Career after a Layoff

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It happens sometimes. You’re a nurse or other health practitioner and you get positive feedback from your superiors about your job performance. Then, for no apparent reason, you’re blindsided with a call into the office and told you’re being let go. At this point, you need to pull out all the stops to find another job. Here are some suggestions to keep your head above water:

Keep Your Cool

If the handwriting’s on the wall and “Fire Friday” is fast approaching, don’t rant, rave or complain. Keep your cool and don’t resign. It may feel good, but you won’t get unemployment benefits—unless you quit for “good cause”--things like unsafe working conditions, not being paid, a change in job duties, discrimination, job related health/safety risks, or certain family emergencies. Check out quitting for good cause and collecting unemployment. If your company has an “outplacement” person, talk to him or her and take advantage of every resource they offer—phone, office, computer, etc.

Stay Motivated

Jot down your strengths, accomplishments and experience. Use your resume as a confidence booster. Dig out your diplomas, degrees and certifications. Remind yourself that all these organizations qualified you to work in the field you’ve chosen. Check out some motivational books and DVDs to get motivated. Get your resume up to date (you should routinely be doing this anyway) and practice your interviewing skills. Linda Rolie’s paperback, Getting Back to Work: Everything You Need to Bounce Back and Get a Job After a Layoff can help you ‘bounce back.”

Volunteer and Network

Volunteering in the healthcare field is a good way to keep your “skills and spirits” up. It looks good on your resume and offers great networking opportunities. It also lets you feel out an organization in a low-risk way to see if it’s a good fit for you. Volunteering rebuilds your confidence and keeps you from sitting in front of the TV wallowing in guilt and pity. Make sure to have liability insurance for any nurse volunteer position. Free clinics, blood banks or schools are great places to volunteer. Don’t overlook the value of career fairs, nursing conventions, professional seminars and conferences. Talk to as many people as you can. And be positive.

Rehearse Answers to Tough Questions

Why did you leave you last job? Why have you been unemployed for so long? Rehearse the answers to these questions. When answering the employment gap question, list activities while you were unemployed. Freelance projects, volunteer work or taking care of family members will let the interviewer know you spent your time productively, advises Susan Nethery, director of student affairs marketing at Texas Christian University.

Join and Participate

Join your state chapter of the American Nurses Association and check out their career center. Attend their meetings, conferences and Navigate Nursing webinars and connect with peers. Find out who is hiring and what they’re looking for. Being involved in these organizations and activities shows that you’re an informed and active member of your profession, even if you’re not working full time.

Finding the right job after a layoff can be tough but not impossible if you follow the above guidelines.


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