By: Robert Scoble
A friend told me he was laid off yesterday. As futurist at Rackspace I often get questions about what to do, so I have asked HR people and others in my life about how to approach a new phase of life.
Here’s some of my notes:
1. Clean up your life. When going through stress it helps to clean up your home office, your closets, and other parts of your life (plus that gives you time to take stock of your life, think about the role you’d like to be in, etc). The photo here is of my closet, I took this advice when I was going through a tough time and it really does help. Why? Helps you think through what’s important. Is that shirt really important? Plus, look at Mark Zuckerberg’s closet. His looks even simpler than mine does. He doesn’t need to spend mental energy worrying about what to wear. When you are looking for a job you want to hit every day on a positive note, and if your closets and office are all clean and organized it makes you feel like a million bucks.
I’d go even further. Buy new underwear and new socks and throw out your old ones. It isn’t something other people will notice but, again, will start out every day from then on on a positive note.
2. Do the basics. Update Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. Aren’t on all three? Then get on all three (and I would add on a blog, or, Medium). Hiring managers take note when you aren’t on all three. You don’t want any negatives in that first impression. Make sure your profiles are professional, up to date, lead with your skills and passions and don’t look goofy. You know, if a hiring manager visits and sees only selfies or the photos from your drunken party last Friday night you probably won’t get called and you won’t even know why. My son is going to be a police officer and to get into the police academy they went even further: asked for his passwords and went through EVERY piece of his social life. It does matter for many jobs. Yes, still update your resume too, and your cover letter. Make sure you look good and that you have appropriate clothes for interviews and that they are ready to go (I once got an interview and the HR person on the phone said “can you be here in an hour?” — you have to be ready).
3. Get a project. One that has value to your career. Let’s say you are going to be jobless for two years. That will really suck, right? Well, it’ll really suck if you take the two years off and just mope around the house and have nothing to show for it. Instead, get a project that will have an impact on your career. If you are a janitor, why don’t you have a project where you visit each company that makes something for the industry you are in? Cleaning supplies, uniform companies, etc? Or if you can’t do that, why don’t you rate all the different cleaning supplies for their efficiency for various topics. What you want is to walk into job opportunities with passion and credibility. If you say “hey, for the past four months I’ve done videos on all the cleaning supplies out there and show which is most efficient for each job.” Who wouldn’t hire you at that point? Certainly you will win over someone who says “oh, for the past four months I’ve just been sitting around playing video games.”
4. Network your ass off. Both online and off. Again, fit it into your project. If your project is to code an augmented reality chess game, why not ask other programmers online for help, and show them your project so far? Then they will be far more likely to be able to help you when you say “hey, do you think Magic Leap might need my new skills and can you introduce me to Rony?” If you want to work in augmented reality make sure you visit the companies wherever they are. Find out what conferences they will be speaking at. Sometimes you will get lucky and be able to meet them in the hallway at said conferences. Last night I walked through the Wall Street Journal’s CIO conference at the hotel near my home. Met more than one VIP just in the lobby (Box’s CEO, for instance).
5. Fish where the money is. Have you visited Crunchbase, AngelList, Founder Dating? These sites show you who is growing, hiring, getting funding. Make a list of people who work at these companies and try to get informational interviews. Even better if you start a blog about what you want to do. For instance, if I wanted to do marketing for augmented reality companies (that’s where a HUGE amount of new investment is, so that’s where I’d be fishing) I’d do a blog about what I might do in such an industry, and then I’d be interviewing anyone who might have something to say about marketing in that new industry. I’d be networking my ass off, visiting conferences about that industry, and trying to do video interviews with anyone who moves in that industry. Which gets me to the next point:
6. Create a storm system that sucks you along. Heck, if I were laid off, I’d have a blog, a project, a ton of videos and contacts, new friends, and, maybe even a business. All of which would be aimed at creating a storm system that will bring opportunities to you. Now, look at your Facebook. Is there anything there that isn’t focused on getting you a new role, even if it was as CEO of your own company? Then refocus. Same here on LinkedIn. And on your blog. On YouTube. And, if you listen to Gary Vaynerchuk you should be on Snapchat, too. All wholly focused on your career. “But, Scoble, my Facebook is for family and friends.” Sorry, you need to change your attitude and change it now. I’m not saying get rid of them, but instead of 100 out of 100 posts that are about your family or memes or jokes or stuff, make it only 10 out of 100. You need to signal to EVERYONE you are serious about your future. INCLUDING friends and family. One of them might meet someone by accident at a company you want work for, and if you are starting a business, might be sitting next to a potential investor. You want EVERY SINGLE THING on ALL your social media to sing “fund me” or “hire me.” If they don’t, you have work to do to create the storm system that will get you the role of your future.
7. Make it easy to do business with. Yesterday I spoke to a bunch of Chinese investors. They started to pull out business cards. I knew that in China no one uses business cards so I told them “hold on, let me open WeChat.” You should have seen the smiles. Is your phone number, email address, facebook messenger, LinkedIn profile, all public everywhere you are on social networks? Why not? You are hurting yourself.
8. Spend some money to make money. This is counter intuitive. After all, if you are laid off your money is a huge stressor, right? But, let’s say your expenses are $5,000 a month. Can you take $2,500 and throw an event for people who you would want to work for, or with? One of my friends spent $8,000 to go to TED when he was laid off, but walked away with a $6 million check for his new company. Is that worth the investment? Can you do something else to invest in your future and stand out from the crowd? This is one reason why people say it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. Well, it’s easier to go to industry events when your money isn’t disappearing and do the networking that leads to new opportunities.
9. Start a blog about job opportunities in the industry you want to be in. This is advanced math, but if you start sharing job opportunities with others, they often will do the same with you. In fact, in Silicon Valley, I spoke to the Jewish Entrepreneurial organization here and they start every meeting talking about job opportunities. Why can’t you become the authority on jobs in your industry? I bet people start emailing you about new jobs they want you to post on your blog. Which will help you stand out because you’ll build a relationship with the hiring manager before anyone else, right?
10. Say no to everyone and everything that won’t help you get a job. Even family members, if you can. Keep every hour open for focusing on your career that you can.
Added bonus: Teach a class about what you want to do. Live stream that to Periscope. Teach it again, put that on YouTube. Teach it again, put that on Facebook Live. Then move to the professional education sites like Pluralsight, Lynda.com, CreativeLive, etc etc. Eventually you will start to be seen as an authority and that will will help you get the next job. Plus, to teach, you need to know what you are talking about, particularly if you do that in public.
Just some ideas. Please post yours.