How To Get a Job in a Lay-Off Market

With the right tools and tenacity, you will succeed in your job search!

Gary* was a top-selling Account Executive at a leading technology company, rising to #1 in his region through a record-breaking sale. He was walking on clouds until the ground dropped out from under him. He got laid off.

This abrupt and unexpected change took its toll on him emotionally, but being a fighter, Gary quickly got back up and started swinging. I wrote him a new resume, and he set up a regimented application schedule, gathering meticulous data. Through swift and effective networking, he landed a new role.

That’s not the end of the story.

Gary immediately realized the culture of the new company wasn’t a fit. Accustomed to large, well-oiled corporations, he found this start-up to be a ship bobbing in stormy seas. A micro-manager circled the sales team like a vulture, expecting gold from an infrastructure supporting tin. Additionally, the job itself wasn’t fulfilling; Gary was a skilled account manager, yet his day was filled with cold calls and prospecting. Each evening, he was drained and exhausted.

So, he “quietly quit” and refocused his efforts on job hunting. This time around, beginning in December, Gary found a far different job market to navigate. Referrals were ineffective, and recruiters weren’t reaching out. Feeling lost and confused, Gary did the one thing he knew would work: hit the gas.

Gary set up alerts for 10+ companies he would love to work for, along with a few general roles, and each time he saw a fitting job, he adjusted his resume and applied immediately. When we last spoke, Gary’s stats looked like this:

· Total applications: 346

· Total interview processes including screenings: 27

· Total offers: 2

· Total unique companies: 128

· Most applications to single company: Microsoft (26), ServiceNow (25) Google (24), Adobe (17), Amazon (17)

· Total Thank you notes: 87

· Total Referrals ~100

· Total Inbound LinkedIn Opportunities: 0

You would think a person who submitted this many applications in 90 days would feel disheartened, but his email sharing this data was signed, “Yours in triumph with a dash of madness.” Yes, Gary, indeed!

I asked him what strategies were working for him, and he told me:

1. If I have a focused search on 8–10 companies: I prefer to use job alerts directly on their careers page and get 8–10 emails every week. The reason is LinkedIn alerts include “reposted” roles I’ve found to be either stale postings in the final selection process or “evergreen” roles that signify companies that pay far under market, are far too picky, or both.

2. If I understand the job title(s) I’m seeking within a specific geography, but I’m not looking at target companies: Use LinkedIn alerts for sure to find the role. However, I ALWAYS apply on the career page and not via LinkedIn Easy Apply. This is how I found my original job at Microsoft.

3. If I love a company but don’t really understand what job family / function / titles I’m looking for: I bookmark the career pages and sort regularly by most recent. Over time, I can understand the kinds of roles I’m interested in and move to an alert.

The Formula for Success

Based on Gary’s meticulous record-keeping and the feedback of other clients, I’ve found that today’s formula for success is:

1. Set alerts for your “top 10” companies and appropriate job titles.

2. Submit applications early and fast through the company website (regardless of where you find the posting) as soon as you see the job posted.

3. Apply with a high-quality resume aligned with ATS (applicant tracking system) best practices and tailored to the job description.

1. Making a “Top 10” list of companies

The best way to land in a culture you’ll love is to start with star companies and then concern yourself with available roles.

· Make a list of companies you already know you’ll love to work for.

· Find similar companies on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, other job-hunting sites, professional associations/groups, and local Chamber of Commerce lists. You could also ask an LLM (like ChatGPT) for a list of companies in the same industry with similar cultures to the companies you like.

· Further research these companies on social media websites, their company pages, at industry conferences and events, etc. to ensure they’re a good fit for you.

· Make contacts within the companies via LinkedIn and networking events. Reach out to current and former employees to learn about the culture.

2. How to set job posting alerts

· LinkedIn: Customize job alerts by specifying the role, company, and location. Navigate to the “Jobs” section, use the search function to define your criteria, and then set the alert by clicking on the “Job alerts” toggle.

· Indeed: Offers the option to receive email notifications for new job listings matching your search criteria. After searching, you can create a job alert by entering your email address in the “Get new jobs for this search by email” box.

· Glassdoor: Similar to LinkedIn and Indeed, Glassdoor allows you to set up job alerts by entering job titles, companies, or keywords along with your preferred location. You must create an account or sign in to enable this feature.

· Company Career Pages: Many companies offer the option to subscribe to job alerts directly on their career pages. This ensures you receive notifications as soon as new roles are posted on their website.

· Google Alerts: For broader monitoring, including news about specific companies or industries, Google Alerts can notify you when new content that matches your defined terms is published online, although it’s less specific to job postings.

· Bookmarks: Create bookmarks for hiring pages on company websites and regularly check in with them.

Several apps like “Google Alerts” exist, offering more features and functionality. You can search for “set job alerts” or “job alert apps” to find the one that’s right for you.

By leveraging these platforms, you can stay informed about the latest job opportunities and ensure a timely application, significantly increasing your chances of securing your desired position.

3. Adjusting your resume

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it’s absolutely necessary to adjust your resume each time you apply. However, the process doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Basically,

· Identify the keywords in the job description.

· Implement those that apply to you in a “Key Skills” section in your resume.

· Refine your experience section and summary to ensure it supports that those are, indeed, your key skills.

BONUS: How do you know if you should apply for a job?

The rule of thumb is that if you meet at least 70% of the criteria, go for it.

Back to Gary

After some lengthy interview processes, Gary expects 2 more offers this week from companies he’d love to work for. Based on the jobs on the table, I’m confident he will not only land in a far better role, but I think he’ll get a raise! Go, Gary, Go!

If you need help with your resume…

I’m here for you. As one of Upwork’s top 1% of freelancers, I have written about 5,000 resumes and am ready to help you with high-quality service. Contact me today!

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