Saturday, March 7, 2009

What I'd Do If I Got Fired Today

If I were fired, I wouldn't take a vacation--I'll only be more scared when I come back. I woudn't wallow--That will only spiral me down. Here's what I'd do:

1. Tell myself that the layoff will pay off: I'll find better work. (It may not be true but it helps to think that way.) 

Is this an opportunity to change to a better and better-fit career? 

I'm not interested in a career change, but you might find helpful this list of rewarding, viable careers I just assembled for you:  weatherizer (Obama priority,) medical informatics/health care IT, physician assistant, physical therapist, optometrist, patient advocate, haircutter, program analyst, science/math teacher, blue-collar workers for new installs and repair re alternative energy, infrastructure, school building projects, and health care (e.g., biomedical equipment repair,)  accent neutralization specialist, program evaluator, prospect researcher. 

If I needed more career options, I'd review the lists in U.S. News' Best Careers, 2009, my column, Job Trends for 2009 or the 500 in my book, Cool Careers for Dummies.

2. Immediately slash expenses:

No eating out. In-house: oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, tuna on whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta. 

Entertainment: read a book I already own or take from library or cheapo used books from Amazon, internet reading, TV, hikes with dog, play piano, volunteer. No vacations--a short one AFTER I get my new job.

No purchases: no clothes, no gadgets, no nothing.

3. Commit to getting my part of the job search done in one week:

Hit 10 to 20 target employers without regard to whether they're listing a job. Find ObamaJob leads at (Obama promised he'd list which companies and agencies get the money but I haven't yet seen that. So far, it's an Obama PR site.)

  • Job-search-oriented twittering, linked to a LinkedIn or Facebook profile.

  • Call-email call:

-- Call all 10 or 20 hirers after hours to announce upcoming email

-- Send non-desperate tease email to the person with the power to hire.  Sample subject  line: Top IT mgr seeks next opp. Append a White Paper, one or more strong references, and resume, perhaps a resume. 

 -- Phone follow-up two days later.

Contact (phone, email, drink, whichever feels right)  the 10 to 20 people in my network most likely to have a good lead or job. 

--  Brief pitch, e.g.,  "I've always gotten good evaluations as a manager but in the bad economy, my company contracted, so I'm looking." (That's easy to remember. And it leaves plenty of room for them to ask me more info--and the more they ask, the more invested they are in me.)

--  "Would you mind keeping your ears open for me and if I'm still looking a month from now, would you mind if I call to follow up?"

Answer the 10 most on-target ads from, (which links to LinkedIn), craigslist,, ans

--  Use a two-column format. On the left side, list the job requirements in the ad. On the right side, prove that you meet them.

4. In interviews:

Dress one notch above what I'd wear at work. (Ask admin for guidance.)

Pretend I'm my most confident self

Follow the traffic-light rule: First 30 seconds green, second 30 yellow.

Appear interested but not desperate. 

Prepare three PAR stories that would impress that employer. 

Ask good questions, early if possible--e.g., "Is it clear what you'd hope I'd get done in the first few weeks?"

Look for an opportunity to play consultant.

Look for an opportunity to say, "This is what I might do in that situation...Do you think that might work?"

5. My thank-you notes would include one or more of these:

A second crack at a question I flubbed. "Regarding your question about how I'd handle a sewage overflow, on reflection, Y."

A proposed agenda for a second meeting, e.g., "I'd be pleased to further discuss how you might cash in on the Obama spending package.

A proposal or white paper, for example, outlining how the company might cash in on the Obama spending package.

"I'm more interested than ever in the job because X."

6. If a desired employer rejects or ignores me, I'd offer to work a month for free on the condition that if they liked my work after a month, they'd offer me a fair-paying job.


Leslie said...


Your advice is always so helpful. Yesterday, the N.Y. Times featured a variety of career coaches addressing this same topic and their advice was not as comprehensive as yours.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you, Leslie. That's gratifying to hear.

KG said...

I recently got put on furlough from my engineering job. I have a BS in electrical engineering and I do software engineering. I have been off since December 23rd 2008, today is March 13th 2009. The good news it sounds like I will be going back to work soon.

BUT... here is what I decided to do in the event I get laid off again. I can get a Teaching Certificate to teach math in the public schools simply by taking 22 credits of education courses and passing the State Math Exam for high school mathematics.

Or... there is also an accelerated program available for people who want to teach WHILE they get their certification... the only requirement is to pass the State Math Exam. So... when I get my teaching certificate, I can keep that little bugger in my back pocket... and if a layoff happens, I can simply start teaching math in the public high schools. Always have a plan B. And now, my plan B is to get that certificate!!!

Since the public school system finds it hard to hire math teachers, you'll be in demand. So my sugestion is... there are programs available to hire qualified teachers... get a state teaching certificate in your speciality, (mine is math)... and keep that certificate in your back pocket. Hope this helps you.