By Jordan Perez, September 12, 2017 —

Layoffs happen. Here are six tips to follow so you can re-enter the workforce confidently.

Photo credit: SteveWoods/Shutterstock

Layoffs happen. It’s never an ideal situation, but there are steps you can take to mitigate the damage to your career, reputation and bank account. With the right attitude, you can spin a temporary bad situation into an opportunity for professional growth. Here are six tips to help you make the most of your downtime, so you can re-enter the workforce stronger and more motivated than ever.

1. Take some personal time

While you don’t want too many long gaps in your resume, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time to relax and appreciate your newfound free time. This is especially true if you weren’t exactly thrilled with your old job.

A short sabbatical after leaving a job where you were unhappy can help you to focus on your priorities and well-being, which will make you a better candidate in the long run.

If you can afford to go somewhere and turn your mind off for a week or two, treat yourself to a vacation. If not, even sitting back and enjoying the couch for a few days can help you to release stress and hone your next plan.

2. Boost your skillset

Now is the perfect time to work on developing your professional repertoire. Instead of immediately sending out your current resume, why not bulk it up? If you’re a computer programmer, you could work on a new language or develop an app. Learning a second language is also a valuable asset, and most bilingual employees can make 5 to 20 percent more than their monolingual counterparts. Not only will your new skill make you more attractive to potential employers, but you’ll have an answer when asked about gaps in employment.

If you’re lucky, you may even be able to work on a skill that pays in the meantime. Develop some basic marketable skills, and look into entry-level freelancing opportunities. You can earn a paycheck, gain experience and develop that skill all at once.

3. Seek professional help

It’s OK to admit that you need help finding a new job. There are many companies out there that make it their mission to help job seekers polish their resumes, practice for interviews and write cover letters. Choosing a professional resume-writing company can help you stand out among all the other job seekers out there.

Since most corporate HR teams receive their first application within 200 seconds of posting an open position (and each position receives an average of 250 submissions), recruiters spend very little time on each resume. If you don’t grab their attention within six seconds, your resume is likely to end up in the recycle bin. Most professional resume and cover-letter-writing companies know how to capture and maintain recruiter attention.

4. Put out feelers

Losing your old job could be the best thing to happen to you. While you’re between jobs, do some networking. Polish your LinkedIn profile, and send out some emails. You can also talk to friends, family members and past business associates. Sometimes, simply becoming more social can lead to exciting business opportunities.

5. Connect with other unemployed people

If you don’t personally know anyone who is or has been unemployed, go online and talk to people on forums and message boards. There’s a huge community of unemployed folks out there. Some are struggling, and others are thriving. Either way, you’ll gain a better perspective on how to proceed.

Exchanging job search advice with other people in similar situations can really help you to think outside the box and come up with ideas you may not have thought of on your own.

Eventually, you might even be able to help each other out. Pooling resources and forming alliances is always a solid strategy when you’re on the hunt for that next job. Joining a community is a great way to stay accountable, and it reminds you that you’re not alone.

6. Be proactive

If you want to become employed again as quickly as possible, you’re going to have to put in the effort. In fact, applying for jobs can be a full-time job in itself. You can’t expect a new job to fall into your lap. Keep a copy of your resume on your phone (or other portable devices); 45 percent of people have applied for a job using their smartphone.

Scour the internet for local opportunities, and send out resumes and cover letters that are catered to specific organizations and positions. Don’t just forward the same information to every company that’s hiring. Today’s hiring managers can tell when you’re just copying and pasting information.

Putting in the effort

Put in the effort, and you’ll see results eventually. Try not to get discouraged, and never forget your true value to ensure you make your job search for success.

Jordan Perez is a HR professional with Resume Pundits.