Layoffs. Needless to say, they’re more common today than just a few months ago, and many IT professionals have had to face this unfortunate reality. When you lose your job, determining your next step can be difficult, especially given the current recession. The good news? There are some steps you can take to quickly recover from the shock and launch a successful job search. Consider these tips:
Evaluate your options. Before launching a job search, make sure you are focusing your efforts in the right direction. Do you want to pursue a similar position as the one you previously held? Or would you prefer to try something new? Your personal financial situation may dictate the answer, but if you have the luxury of time, consider if your professional interests still lie in the same sphere. You may want to explore a different area of IT or leave the profession altogether.
If you decide to try your hand at something new, keep in mind that it’s easiest to pursue a career that is related to your former occupation so you can take advantage of transferable skills. If you worked as an applications developer, for instance, you may want to look at learning a new programming language. The farther from known territory you stray, the more training and time it will likely take for you to make a smooth transition.
Look at what’s hot. As you search for employment, concentrate on healthy industries and fields. Despite these unprecedented times, some bright spots still exist. For example, firms in the professional services and business services industries are most optimistic about IT hiring, according to the most recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. Healthcare businesses, in particular, are expected to see continued growth this year. You may even expand your search to other areas of the country. The IT Hiring and Skills Report revealed that companies in the Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming) and New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) regions forecast the most active hiring of technology workers in the first and second quarters of 2009.
Get the word out. Your best allies during a job search are the members of your professional network. Let them know of the change in your employment situation — sooner rather than later. You might start by updating your status on networking websites such as LinkedIn. Then reach out to people one by one. Get in touch with former coworkers and supervisors, business contacts, friends, and family members to let them know that you’re looking for new opportunities. Be specific about what skills you can offer a potential employer and what type of position you seek to give people a better chance of helping you. Meanwhile, continue to expand your base of contacts.
Don’t isolate yourself. The Internet makes it easy to search for jobs and connect with other professionals from the comfort of your home. While you should incorporate online activities into your job search, don’t rely solely on the Web. Attend industry conferences and alumni functions and join a local professional association to network in-person with others in your field. Line up informational interviews to learn about companies you are interested in and to get in front of hiring managers. And make it a point to meet people face to face on a regular basis. Sitting down with a friend for coffee once a week can provide you with valuable feedback and support.
Register with a staffing firm. When you register with a staffing firm, you get the advantage of having another professional assist with your job search efforts. A representative from the company can look for a suitable full-time or interim position for you as you continue the hunt yourself. In essence, this doubles your effectiveness. You also can continue to build your resume and earn money by taking on consulting engagements. By registering with a specialized staffing firm, you also can receive personalized career advice and may be able to access free training and certification courses so you can fill any skills gaps.
A final word of advice: As much as possible, keep a positive outlook. Your attitude has a lot to do with your success during your search for employment, and hiring managers seek enthusiastic individuals who can bring excitement to the job.
Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.