Published in Sun Media, November, 2008.
After being laid off from his job at Dell, Joel Brett created a Facebook support group for colleagues in the unemployment line.
He formed "I got laid off from Dell" in January to help workers from the Edmonton office keep in touch and provide a job forum.
Three months after he was let go, Brett, 23, was recruited straight from the site for a job that paid $13,000 more than his previous position at Dell.
"The first thing I do when I get home from work is log onto Facebook," said Brett, from his home in Red Deer, Alta., of the impetus behind his online endeavour. "So it was the first thing I thought of."
Employment experts agree Brett's social networking strategy is the No. 1 tool for those laid off, fired or let go.
"Networking is the most important thing to do," said Colleen Clarke, a career specialist and author of Networking: How to Build Relationships that Count. "Everyone on the planet has access to jobs on the Internet. But networking provides 80% of jobs. It's not who you know, it's who knows you."
The Facebook site Brett created has attracted 244 members and is the second group to come up in a search for "laid off." Other Facebook groups bemoaning their unemployed status include "Laid off from Global" and "Laid off from Dell Edmonton 2008."
It's an attention grabbing strategy: Headhunting company the Pollack Group in turn created a group "Laid off from Dell Ottawa??? We are Staffing!!!" to target the recently unemployed and add them to their roster, "a leading supplier of the highest calibre professional candidates for public and private sector."
Mass layoffs in the auto industry, telecom, and banking industries have already hit Canadians hard this year — pushing the unemployment rate to 6.2%.
The loss of a staggering 15,000 jobs next year in the Canadian auto industry was projected this week by the Conference Board of Canada. Telecom giant Nortel laid off 1,300 jobs this month in addition to 2,000 announced earlier this year. And Citibank is laying off 53,000 employees worldwide.
To network is to schmooze. Expand your network by volunteering or joining different clubs, advises Cheryl Stein of Stein Coaching and Consulting. For those who fear they may be on the chopping block, making connections while on the job is also crucial to warding off future unemployment.
"If you've kept up relationships, people won't think you're a fairweather friend," said the Montreal-based career transition coach.
Contacts can also be found among unusual suspects.
"Talk to anyone, your bank manager, hairdresser, neighbours, your kids' parents," she said. "It's about finding people who can take you to the next level."
But don't ask people to do the job for you, she says. "All you need is a contact name and number."
According to career website Jobfox.com, the No. 1 recession-proof job is sales.
After all, a talented sales force is needed to bring a new customer base. Customer support, accounting, social work and software design round out the top five jobs on the latest October report.
In addition to mining employment sites such as Workopolis and Monster, experts encourage jobseekers take advantage of government programs.
Ontario's Second Career program, for instance, offers the laid off and unemployed up to $28,000 in financial assistance for training or education. Alberta's Job Placement Services matches the unemployed with employers and teaches job search skills such as interviewing and resume writing.
Stein also advises tackling the situation like a project. Make a list of things to do like updating a resume she said, and break it out into smaller tasks.
"When you really need a job, you need to stretch yourself a bit." While it would be easy to fall into despair, experts warn panic is most unproductive. "Try to recognize that this too shall pass. So much of getting through this is attitude," Clarke said.
A JOB-HUNTERS STRATEGY
- Make yourself a work space at home dedicated to your job search
- Figure out what you have to offer so you conduct a stunning interview
- Perfect your resume
- Practice your interviewing skills
- Send thank you letters
- Spend five hours a day on your search
- Read job search books
Source: Colleen Clarke