How proactive should you be when you face job loss?

The Central Wisconsin area, which is my home base, is reeling from not one but two massive layoffs. Last week Wednesday, Wausau Paper announced it was shutting down the Brokaw mill which employs 450 people. The planned date is March 31, 2012. Then right on the heels of this announcement came the announcement that 556 employees would lose their jobs in February 2012 as SNE Enterprises planned to shut the doors on its Mosinee plant.

This begs the question, when should those workers start taking action in their job search. Conventional wisdom used to be that you waited until you were laid off or your job was ended. In past years, some workers even took advantage of unemployment to spend some time with family, enjoy their hobbies, take the winter or summer off, and then start looking after 3 to 6 months had passed. Those who were granted severance plans in addition to unemployment even took longer to begin their job search.

You cannot wait to begin a job search in 2011

But this is 2011. Want my advice? — Start the minute you know you are going to face job loss, termination, or lay off. Many of “the 99rs” as they are called would not have been in this situation if they had used strategic job search from the beginning. Job search is work and you are best to tackle job search the same way that you would tackle your own job. If you have been a motivated worker, it is time for you to become a motivated job seeker.

How? Obviously as a professional resume writer, I am going to suggest that you start with your resume.  Emily Neubauer of WAOW-TV recently contacted me to help them find tips to set your resume apart from the others.

Focus on your accomplishments

One of the key things that was highlighted in the video, real estate professionals tell you that what counts most is “Location, location, location.” Resume and career marketing professionals will tell you that key to your job search is the phrase: “Accomplishment, accomplishment, accomplishment.” You need to be able to capture those accomplishments before any time passes and you start forgetting what the highlights of your career entails.

I teach my clients how to find their accomplishment, how to make sure that they are qualified and quantified, and how to position them in the resume to get attention.

Many of the jobs lost were blue collar jobs. Yet in today’s market, the resume for the blue collar worker is as critical as for the executive. No matter what role you play in a company, a well-written resume will showcase your accomplishments.

Seek out your network

At the same time, you need to examine your network to determine who can best help you with your job search. If you think online applications are the only thing you need to do in the job search process, you will most likely struggle. There are people who do get jobs through just applying online but usually they have very specific skills in high demand. You need to make sure you are using your network. You don’t think you have one? Check out this networking story and see if it helps you find your networking story.


  1. Melissa Cooley on December 13, 2011 at 10:51 am

    A great post, Julie! I am so sorry to hear about the upcoming layoffs in your area, but your message to them and others who are facing unemployment is spot-on.

    I also agree about the need for blue collar workers to have a resume. I have heard back from clients in blue collar professions about how HR has been impressed with their resumes. Sometimes they were the only candidate with a resume, so it definitely was a differentiating factor!

    • Julie Walraven on December 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Thank you, Melissa. This is going to be tough for many in our area but there are opportunities. I have heard a need for more welders in two companies and I know that I had two calls from former clients who need people in general management of restaurants and IT personnel.

      With my client base, it is a mix of many different types and I have had plenty of blue collar who won their new positions because of their resumes.

  2. Alex on December 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    “Many of “the 99rs” as they are called would not have been in this situation if they had used strategic job search from the beginning. ” REALLY?!?! You really believe that there are good jobs out there for anyone that wants them? I quit reading the column at that point.

    • Julie Walraven on December 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      Alex, I really do believe that and I am sorry that you quit reading. I know that there have been some people who had even more challenges but I truly believe that if you spend the time preparing your job marketing materials, spend time networking, and use more strategies than just hitting apply, you will be hired. There are cases when you may have to move or change fields and yes, sometimes take a salary cut but in the end, you will be employed.

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Julie Walraven, Design Resumes

Julie Walraven

Professional Resume Writer

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