Losing your job is painful, humiliating and traumatic experience – whether it is for the first time or the umpteenth time. What will I tell those around me? How will I pay my bills? What about my retirement? What will my friends and family say? And what will I do to make a living and how? While the initial questions are appropriate for other articles, this one will focus on the last question – “what will I do to make and living and how?” It is best to think of concentric circles when thinking about where to find your next job.
Your company is the center circle. They have made clear that your job no longer exists. Think about the suppliers to your company. If you have done business with them, contact them. What about the consultants to your company? Who are they? Are their areas of specialty the same as yours? Contact them? You company probably does not have less work but will have fewer people doing the same work or more. Most companies increasingly turn to their suppliers and their consultants after a downsizing to fill the gaps. Unless you are a “C-level” officer, do not worry about “non-compete” agreements or clauses. If you were that important, they would have dismissed you with a nice big golden parachute.
Unless you work for a monopoly your company has competitors. Who are your company’s top ten competitors? You should know. But you must do your homework.
Learn everything you can about them and quickly. What are their strengths and weaknesses? After you have learned all you can about your company’s competitors you need to contact them. First use you professional and personal network to find someone – anyone – who works for each of the companies. Before you send one resume, talk to at least one person in each company. Tell them a little about yourself and find out what departments may be growing. Get contacts in those departments. And then contact them by phone to tell them about yourself and see if you can meet with them face-to-face. No e-mail. No letters. Person-to-person. Do this for every company you former employer competed with.
New businesses are created every day. Which ones are forming to compete with your former employer? Read the WALL STREET JOURNAL and other business and finance publications and professional journals to find out who is getting start-up venture funding to compete with your company or in your market. Find out all you can about these new companies. They will be lean and mean and hungry for expertise. They want workers, not overhead so you must be willing to put in long hours and serve with no support staff. But being in on the ground floor has its advantages also. Find out who the officers of the new company are and who is providing the funding to them. Get the names and contact information for both and start contacting them. These are busy people so you have to catch them on the phone or face-to-face. No e-mails. No resumes in the snail mail. Get an appointment to meet for coffee or dinner or lunch or over the weekend – whenever they can make five minutes to see you in person. Then it is up to you to sell yourself on how you can help the start-up be successful.
Just as there are new companies going after your former employer’s market space, there are also older, more tired companies that want and need to get “back in the game”. They are under pressure by investors and others to improve profitability or market share or both. Identify these “turn-around” candidates. Who in you network – professional or personal knows individuals who work for them? Follow the same model. Contact them directly. On the phone. Talk to them. Get an appointment. Meet with them. And sell yourself. No one can turn them around better than someone who knows the market or product or industry inside out. You!
Every company – not just your former employer – uses suppliers. Nearly everything a company uses – product and service – except their flagship product – and sometimes even that – are provided by another company. Who are those suppliers to your industry or market? Who are the top tier? The second tier? What are their strengths? Weaknesses? Again, turn to your professional and personal network to find individual real people who work for these suppliers. And again – yes – contact them directly by phone and meet with them. To sell yourself. No e-mails. No resumes. You can be THEIR competitive advantage.
The Outer Circle
Consultants. Companies love them. Companies hat them. Find out whom the lead, second and third tier consultants are to your industry, product or market. Research them. Learn all you can about them. Are they growing? Shrinking? What are their strengths? Next find real people in those consulting firms through your network – both professional and personal. Try to find at least two – ideally three – live contacts in each consulting firm. And contact them directly. Like the others, they will say they are too busy to talk to you so be direct and be persistent – but stick with it. Contact every consulting firm in your industry or market space. Once you get to talk with them, tell them how you can make them more successful starting TODAY in that market space or industry.