Strategies to Overcome Unemployment

Let’s face it – how to overcome unemployment is difficult – especially when you are in the middle of it. Confidence is low because you may have just gotten laid off or fired from your last job.

While it seems brutal and personal, being let go is the process that companies use to:

  • Right size their staffs
  • Let people go that are not a good fit with their culture
  • Move poorer performers out to bring in high performers

So what are the best strategies to overcome unemployment? The first and most obvious one is to avoid being laid off or fired in the first place. I realize if you are unemployed right now, this may smack you in the face a bit, however, the more you know about how things work; the better you can strategize and position yourself not to get laid off in the future.

Here are some things to remember. Companies keep employees:

  • With critical skills – If there is not some skill or ability that differentiates you from the person working next to you, you are at risk. Get the training you need in your industry or profession. The more specialized your skill is, the better.
  • That are high performers – Whatever it is you do – generate revenue or save the company money – do it better than anyone else. If you are looking for a job, make sure you highlight your accomplishments on your resume or in your cover letter. Give the employer are reason to want to talk to you!
  • Who get along with others – You don’t have to schmooz to get along with other people. Be known as the person who everyone wants on their team or is a go-to-person because of your contributions.  Extend that same philosophy with your outside networks – job hunting, social and professional groups.  Bottom line – people help people they like.

Now that you know how companies evaluate who to keep, use that information in the next set of strategies.

Other strategies to overcome unemployment include:

  1. Make good decisions on the companies you want to work for. Don’t just accept any job – accept a job that has a good culture fit.
  2. In the interviewing process, are you being an active participant? Remember you are evaluating them as much as they are evaluating you.
  3. Get comfortable with networking. More often than not, it is who you know that opens the door to the job. If you are relying on online services for finding your next position, you are severely limiting your opportunities to find the perfect job.
  4. Let all your friends and family know you are looking for a job and what kind of job you want. Most people really don’t know what you do so it is up to you to educate them. Tell them about your specialized skills or your accomplishments.  Chances are if they don’t know they won’t ask because they don’t want to appear uninformed.

To summarize, the best way to overcome unemployment is for the company never to want to let you go…and if you are looking for a new company – let them know why they need to snatch you up.

How to Find out About Your Career Progression

You may have joined a new organization or you have been in a job for a while and you are curious about what kind of career progression your company offers you. How do you find out about it?

There are a number of people in your organization that can help you answer that question and who those people are will depend on the size of your organization or company. The larger the company, the more specialized the roles in the human resources department and that will decide who you should be approaching.

Who Knows About Career Progression?

The Human Resources department keeps information about career progression especially in large companies because it is a central point of contact. They conduct the research about positions and how salaries tie to the different levels within an organization. Here is a list of Human Resources people who may have knowledge about career progression:

HR Generalist – often the person who supports the business group or function. They have general information about career progression especially if they support functions across different divisions.  This is a good person to talk to first. Bounce off questions that you have about how to advance yourself in the organization. If they need more detail about your specific situation, they will consult with the specialists in their department or refer you directly to them.

Compensation Specialists map out the functional pathways of career progression within organizations so that can benchmark those jobs for compensation purposes.  This is good place to see how a functional organization’s career progression is mapped out to help you plan on different roles to consider for development. Absent having this information, an organizational chart would be helpful.

Organization Development Specialists help lead the succession planning efforts in organizations. Succession planning is the process where leaders identify and slot people for future promotional opportunities and create definitive development plans to aid in propelling their career progression.

Other Career Progression Sources

Let’s not forget that talking to your manager or the head of your department is also a great resource. They have may have come up the ranks and will offer personal insight into what kinds of skills or assignments will be beneficial as you move up the career ladder.

Finally, if there are people in the organization who have a role you aspire to, then do some research to see how they progressed either inside or outside the organization. Check to see if they have a LinkedIn profile – that may give you a good starting point. Once you have some specific questions outlined, ask for a meeting and find out their story. Most people love to talk about their career progression with others.

Company Posts Your Position after Termination

What do you do when you have been terminated by your company and soon after the company posts your position or a similar position? It doesn’t seem quite fair as this reader states his situation:

27967595_sMy employer presented me a notice of termination 2 months ago. It was stated there that since the company has redundancy issue. But they are giving me monthly pay for 2 months and on my last day they will give me extra month pay tax-free. And I signed it without consulting anyone and I was not able to put “signature is for acknowledging receipt only” since I just learned that upon reading your advice and I thank you for that. This is my last month now and I have learned that the company has hired new employees but for a different division but still of same job position I have.

I am thinking now of going back to my employer and cancel the signed paper. Since it was stated there that the reason for my termination was due to redundancy, but they were able to hire new employees.

Will that signed document be an issue against me?

Thanks in advance,

The situation you describe happens a lot in companies, especially where there are different divisions, groups or departments. There are several ways that companies can justify a layoff. The most common are position eliminations or consolidations.

Layoff Reasons

When a position is eliminated, it is because the majority of work that the person performs is no longer needed to be done. This is most likely what you are referring to as being terminated by redundancy.

A position consolidation is when there are two or more positions that are collapsed into a single position. Companies usually select the person with the critical skills necessary to do the work or may use tenure for who is awarded the position.

Company Posts Your Position – Is it Legal?

Here’s what you need to know. In the United States, if a company lays you off from one division, group, or department and has defined the lay off to that division, group or department, they can create a new position within a different department, group or division without having to offer or allow you to apply to it (unless there is a bargaining agreement in place).  I know it seems unfair, but that is how it works.

It would have been more convenient for you to use the internal job posting system if you were still an employee to apply for this job; however, companies do not always anticipate new job positions while doing layoffs – especially in other others of the company. In my experience, there are many divisions and groups that do not share this kind of information with each other. As an example, the need for a new position does not arise until there is a spike in business with a new customer or demand which affects only that division, group or department and the rest of the company is unaware of this change in business.

While it is normal to be suspicious and think the company had a master plan about not keeping you, realize creating the new positions may very well be unexpected. The fact that the company posts your previous position elsewhere may  be happenstance.

Here are some positive actions you can take:

I do not think it is in your best interest to ask about cancelling your signed paper – to be honest you won’t be able to do it. Too much time has passed, you do not have a good case and all that will happen is you will stir up negative conversations with the company.

Instead, approach the company and let them know you have seen the new position in the different division and ask if you can apply to it. If you have a good work history, I would think they would welcome your interest. If the position requires relocation, you may or may not have an opportunity to apply to the position if they are not providing relocation benefits unless you tell them you will pay for it on your own. Many companies will bridge a short break in service and you would be able to keep seniority with any benefit plans.

Good luck!

Are You about to be Fired?

I received a letter from someone who is about to be fired and is thinking ahead, most of the time people are scrambling after the fact. Sometimes you see the signs in your organization or from your boss that you are about to be fired is about to happen, what do you do? Here’s her letter:

First, thank you for your article about termination settlements. It was very helpful. Second, I am anticipating being fired on Wednesday. I have been an outstanding worker but due to personalities, my guess is that this will happen. I believe my manager told my coworker which, I assume, would be a violation of my rights. I am a trainer and see that my name is only on the schedule up until Wednesday morning. My manager has been on vacation for the past few days but I have been informed that a meeting w/HR has been called upon his return.

I have never been in this situation before. So if they ask me to sign something, do I have the right to not sign it until I review it or get someone to review it? You said it’s not something the company can use against you in terms of not providing your last pay check. Also, what is a typical settlement? I’ve been with this company for two years. It is a private company so I’m not sure if that changes things or not.

If this indeed does happen, is it possible to ask for a letter of recommendation in addition for any negative contents of your file be removed? Does signing it waive unemployment? Or if you put ‘do not agree’ or ‘recognized receipt only’, does that enable you to get unemployment? I have two sons heading off to college in a week so this loss of income would be very difficult.

I just want to be prepared. I contend this is wrongful termination but based on the statutes you and others listed, proving anything would be almost impossible even if I have email documentation of an unfair situation. The reason being is that it’s not related to sex, race, religion, etc. just due to personalities.

I deeply appreciate any help or guidance you can provide.

Have a wonderful day!
About to be Fired

First of all, even though it is stressful and upsetting that you may be fired on Wednesday, you are in a MUCH better place to handle the discussion that will occur and make decisions that will benefit you. Too often when someone is about to be fired, they are caught off guard and make mistakes.

All the signs you point to – the lack of work being scheduled and having an HR meeting very strong clues that you are about to be fired.

The fact that you manager may have shared that you will be terminated with another employee is not a violation of your rights. In my opinion it may be poor management practices but there are always exceptions. For example, if the other person is going to absorb your work or have to make adjustments to accommodate a schedule, then they may be told in advance. I realize it is upsetting that someone else knows your business however; the company will make business decisions in their best interest, not yours.

eBook Cover - What To Do After Being Fired

Your guide to handling being Fired!

Another thing you have going for you is that it seems the company is large, which means they should know legally what they can and cannot do in the meeting. The best thing you can do is go in ready for the meeting and keep your cool. Remember you do NOT have to make any final decisions in the meeting. Here are a few pointers:

  • Do not sign any documents. Tell them you will review them when you have a chance to look at them with a clear head. Ask them what the time line is returning the information. The reason for this is that you want to be clear what you are signing – are you giving up any rights in return for more separation pay. Even if they say this is this the standard agreement, take it away and read it later.
  • If the documents are confusing, get advice from a lawyer or someone who understands how to interpret the information so that you can make informed decisions.
  • Company settlements have been less generous over the last few years. Larger companies have policies in place for standard separation pay. They will let you know if you are getting the standard or if they want you to sign off an agreement that gives you extra pay where you agree to hold them harmless.
  • Ask the company if it is not stated in the termination paperwork what the reason is their reason for termination. Until you know that, you won’t know if there may be a fight with unemployment.
  • Asking for a letter of recommendation is something you can do – consider if that is the right time. You’ll know based on how the termination discussion goes on Wednesday. They may be less likely to cooperate if you don’t sign off on everything. Not signing their paperwork means more work and follow-up for them and leaves them in an uncertain state. Personally, I would leave that for later as a potential negotiation point.
  • You don’t have to have anything signed to get unemployment. Knowing how the company is going to position your termination is important in how you present your case the unemployment.

I realize that time is tight, however, I would suggest that you or anyone else that is about to be fired or has just been fired, pick up my eBook: What to Do After Being Fired. It will help you get through many of challenges you will be facing ahead.

Lose the Career Objective Statement on Your Resume

It is passé. Bottom line: having a career objective statement on your resume does not tell the interviewer anything about what you can do for the company. A career objective statement is all about you and the company wants to know what you can do for them NOW.

It may sound cold, but the fact is fewer companies are looking for stellar talent that they can grow internally. In the past, when companies where fueling management development programs an objective statement on your resume might have served well to identify you as someone who could be groomed or had high aspirations of a steep career trajectory. Here’s an example of a career objective statement:

Seeking a role to advance to a Senior Management position in a technology based company.

This statement implies you are seeking a company that can meet your needs – career advancement. Times have changes, the trend is career growth comes from moving from company to company which makes this statement obsolete.

What Replaces the Objective Statement on Your Resume?

It is far better to state your value proposition or what skills, results, relationships or competencies that you bring to the company that is unique or worth them hiring you. Your opening statement must grab the interviewer’s attention or guess what…you are in the deep six pile.

One of the best ways to write a killer value statement is to look at your list of accomplishments and think about which one of those might be applicable to the company you are sending your resume to. With a little rework, you can craft a new killer value statement for each resume!

The point of a resume is to get noticed – and be asked in for an interview. When you lose the career objective statement on your resume, there is an opportunity to put your best forward in the place that counts – the beginning paragraph of the page. Tailoring your resume to the job or company shows you put some thought into demonstrating on your resume that you understand the job requirements and have a good idea how to make a positive impact.

Absolutely Abby Coming Back to Rochester, NY

Absolutely Abby in Rochester NY

Absolutely Abby in Rochester NY

This will be the third time that Absolutely Abby will be speaking to job seekers in Rochester NY. People love her, love her advice and no-nonsense way of telling it like it is when it comes to conducting an effective job search.

Besides doing her talks, she is holding a contest and there will be two lucky winners – one man and one woman – awarded a Career Makeover! Winners will be revealed on July 23rd (see below). The support that each winner will receive is phenomenal:

  • A makeover sponsored by a local makeup artist 
  • A professional hair styling at a local salon  
  • One (1) “Capture a Recruiter” consultation session with Absolutely Abby 
  • One (1) signed copy of “Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets” and “Absolutely Abby’s Top 12 Interview Questions Exposed” 
  • Five (5) of Absolutely Abby’s teleseminars
And there will be eight (8) Semi-Finalists, each will receive: a signed copy of “Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets” and “Absolutely Abby’s Top 12 Interview Questions Exposed” and access to 5 Absolutely Abby teleseminars.

Absolutely Abby Schedule for Rochester

Here is her schedule for the next couple of weeks, be sure to call ahead if reservations are required.

Monday, July 7, 5:30 pm at ABCPNG.  “Secrets Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know.” First Unitarian Church, 220 South Winton Rd, Rochester 14610.  There have been record crowds at this event with  300 seats and room to stand!

Wednesday, July 9, 2:00 pm at RochesterWorks.  “Secrets Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know.” 255 Goodman St N, Rochester 14607. 

Friday, July 11, 2:00 pm at The Central Library of Rochester & Monroe Counties.  “Secrets Recruiters Don’t Want You to Know.” Kate Gleason Auditorium, 115 South Ave, Rochester 14604. Register: Business/Social Sciences Division on 4th floor, by phone 585-428-8130, or online

Tuesday, July 15, 9:00 am at New Horizons.  “Don’t Just Think Outside of The Box . . Think Outside of The World!” The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 1957 Five Mile Line Road, Penfield 14625.

Thursday, July 17, 9:30 am at The August Group. “Taking Your Job Search by Storm in 2014.” Medaille College, 1880 South Winton Road, Cambridge Place, Rochester 14618.

Monday, July 21, 6:30 pm at Fairport Public Library. “Success for the Seasoned Search…… The Benefit of Being Overqualified.” 1 Fairport Village Landing, Fairport 14450.

Wednesday, July 23, 2:00 pm for Total Career Makeover. “How to Interview Like A Rock Star.” Webster Parks & Recreation, 1350 Chiyoda Drive, Webster 14580 (Multipurpose Room 1+2+3). Register and vote at

If you miss any of these events, look for recaps on Elephants at Work in the next several weeks.

Three Job Hunting Strategies to Landing a Job

The process of landing a job is not something that everyone does every day…that is unless you have been out of work for a while. Let’s say you just graduated from college or perhaps you have gotten laid off from your employer and have not been in the job market for eons. There are three job hunting strategies that I would recommend you focus on. No doubt there will be competing priorities, but these really do make a difference.

Join LinkedIn and Actively Work the Process

When you first join LinkedIn, it can be overwhelming and let’s face it a bit intimidating. Just remember that everyone on LinkedIn started where you did – with nothing. Set small goals and as you make them, you can set bigger goals.

Let’s talk about what those first few goals should be:

Creating a compelling profile helps you with landing a job.

Your profile is the first thing someone will look at when they land on your page so the information you share should address the reason you are on the site. For example, you may be looking for job, accepting consulting assignments, wanting to connect with colleagues, or providing business and professional services. The clearer you are, the easier it will be for someone to know if you are the right person they want to connect or talk to. Here are some tips for creating a compelling profile:

Tell a story about your professional career. Here’s your opportunity to share your experiences, talents, skills and career progressions. Avoid copying your resume into your online profile – use this space to expand what traditionally goes on a resume. Note: you do want to have a good resume prepared as part of your arsenal.

Post a current photo.

The fact is you will get more requests to connect with a photo than without one. Why? People may be suspicious and assume that your profile is bogus. Make sure your picture is professionally done – this is not the time to use your Facebook photo.

Join special interest groups and actively engage in the discussion.

LinkedIn limits you to 50 groups. Consider joining 5-10 to start. Seek out groups where people congregate that you want to meet – it may be in your area of expertise or a regionally based group. Follow the conversations and jump in when you have something to add. This is how people begin to know and trust you. When they trust you, they will reach out to you – sometimes offering help.

If you do these two things when you first join LinkedIn, you will be surprised how comfortable you will get within a matter of weeks.

Knowing where to find the jobs helps you with landing a job.

The strategies for finding a job have changed dramatically over the last ten years. My advice – there are two places to find jobs: online and through networking. At the top of the list for job hunters is LinkedIn. Most recruiters use LinkedIn to data mine their candidates – that is why having a compelling resume is important.

The places to look online for jobs are easy to find, in fact, I have a list of them here. Many of the online services overlap each other, so pick a few that work for you.

The thought of networking petrifies many people. Why? It requires you to put yourself out there in the public and fear of being judged for saying the wrong thing gets in the way. Make no mistake; networking is a skill that requires practice for most of us. When you practice your networking skills, you build confidence as you become more proficient. This confidence is a necessary ingredient in the last area you want to focus on: interviewing skills.

Nailing the interview means landing a job.

If you are getting invitations into companies and you are not able to seal the deal, your interviewing style may be hindering your success. Because you don’t get a chance to “practice” interviewing as much as networking, nerves can set in quickly. There are a few things you want to accomplish in the interview process:

  1. Establish rapport immediately. After all, you are selling yourself to the company. In any sales relationship, you can make or break a connection with someone in a matter of seconds.
  2. Provide the information to your interviewer in a way that they want to receive it. Listening to what they ask and how they ask it will give you clues to how to answer your question.
  3. Move the interview to a conversation. The question and answer format is formal and stiff. When you move the discussion to a conversation, everyone relaxes.

Remember you are interviewing them to see if the company fits YOUR career path too. Making a bad decision about your next move can be a disaster.

As you have probably realized, landing a job takes a lot of work. Even with these three strategies, you will be spending a lot of time updating information, building skills and selling yourself. Just know, that if you need help, ask for it or get it.

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