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The economy isn’t getting better anytime soon and tons of people are losing their jobs every second.  The number of unemployed persons increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million in February, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent.

When you get laid off, you have far more choices than you could possibly imagine.  The problem that most people have is that they freak out and quickly apply to as many jobs as possible, while spamming their network, praying to (insert person you worship here) and becoming extremely stressed out in the process.  I know things are tough right now, but it also means that there are enormous opportunities for you to either start over, rethink your career jobs and create the future you want! 

That is why today I’m going to take you through a process you can use to reposition your brand in this economy, so that you can surface as a champion when we get out of it.  The first thing you want to do is to take a deep breath and stay as optimistic and open minded as you possibly can.  If you can’t do that, then it’s hard for any advice to work for you.

What are your options

If you are one of the millions of people that are laid off, then you really need to understand what options you have before you start applying for jobs or launch a new company.  A good way to do this is to start conversations with the people that surround your life and those who have already lost their job and are in the same position as you.  If you’re an introvert, then doing this online is a wise idea.  You should join groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Ning to locate people that are just like you and find out what they are doing right now.  This way, you won’t make job searching mistakes and you’ll have other people to support you during this tough time.

Here are some options:

  • Start a company: If you have a bright idea or a friend with a business plan, then just go for it because you have nothing to lose right now.  You can always have a few side jobs to have some cash flow to support you, while you build your company.  It will be hard to get venture capital money, unless you already have a personal brand with a history of success, but you can start something small right now and grow it when the economy turns around.  There is always money out there for great ideas!
  • Search for a new job: You can reposition yourself in a completely new field.  It helps to have transferrable skills though and a lot of passion.  Finding a new job is tricky if you haven’t built up a strong network of professionals.  Use all the social networks out there in your industry to either connect or reconnet with people that can help you.  Put less emphasis on applying for jobs through job boards and corporate websites and more on meeting hiring managers directly through social media websites.
  • Consult companies/individuals: Depending on your skill set and background, you’ll be able to get some clients during this recession or none at all.  Those who have get track records of results in a specific niche will have no problem finding clients.  Of course, if you don’t have much experience, this path won’t work well for you.
  • Go back to college: A lot of students right now are staying in college because they fear the current job market.  Also, people who are getting laid off are pursuing advanced degrees to stall out the recession.  Unless you have goals behind going to graduate school, don’t waste the money.  Spend 15 hours a day searching for a job instead.

The bottom line is that you need to do something because employers frown upon slackers and every new person you meet will ask you “what do you do” and you better have a good answer.  If you do nothing, you’ll appear to be uninteresting and you’ll be ostracized as a result.

A repositioning process

  1. Conduct an assessment of your current situation, including how much money you need to make each money to get by, what your family needs are and where you want to take your career in the future.
  2. Decide if you want to continue to pursue your current career or if you want to reposition your brand into a new market segment.
  3. Construct a new personal brand statement that tells the world what you do and who you do it for, while updating all of your marketing collateral to reflect this change, such as having a new “objective” in your resume.
  4. Research all the websites on the planet that have potential customers or hiring managers at companies you want to work for.
  5. Start creating content (blog/podcast, etc) on what you know and are passionate about.
  6. Research out to potential customers and hiring managers about your services/wanting to work there and direct them to your blog and other content that you’ve created.

Some guidance from career experts

“If you’re job hunting, or just trying to hold onto a job in this economy, your personal brand must demonstrate that you are hard-working, self-sufficient, loyal, positive, and most importantly, that you get results.  Everything from your website to the way you answer questions must communicate these characteristics.  Managers who have hundreds of resumes for every opening at their fingertips won’t waste time employing (or even interviewing) people who need too much hand-holding or think they are entitled to meaningful work.”

“To job hunt in a bad economy you need to be a specialist. In a good economy, people hire generalists. In a bad economy, hiring managers can be very picky and they look for a perfect fit. Specialists fit perfectly, not generalists. So talk about yourself as if you are specialized, and then people will think of you when a job that fits comes up. Also, retool your resume to look specialized. You don’t need to have everything you’ve ever done on your resume: It’s a marketing document, not your life story.”

Right now a lot of people are scared and they are hoarding what (and who) they know. I recommend the opposite: When you give generously of your knowledge – career ideas, recommendations of resources, networking tips, etc. – you strengthen your image as a “go-to” person, someone others can rely on even in tough times. Share your knowledge by speaking on pro bono panels, commenting on blogs, sharing article links on Facebook or Twitter, answering questions on LinkedIn Answers, etc. The more you share your knowledge, the more knowledge (including networking contacts and job leads!) you’ll receive from others in return.

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