Last Updated: June 20, 2011
"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us," stated Alexander Graham Bell.
Your human capital is often the largest asset in your financial plan. Here's what financial planners say you should do to make another door open quickly.
Polish your resume. FPA member, Deena Katz, CFP®, associate professor at Texas Tech University, says the first order of business is your resume. "Most people looking for a job haven't done a resume in a long time,"she said. In many cases, your resume is the first thing prospective employers will see. So, you need to make sure that it's attractive, that everything is spelled correctly, and that there are no grammatical errors. It's also important that you have a clear objective and state what kind of position you are seeking. Likewise, you should be very clear about your accomplishments. How many people did you supervise? How much did sales increase under your leadership? It's also wise to make sure that all your numbers – the dates of your employment and college graduation dates – are correct.
In addition, she says it's important that you highlight any and all computer skills. If you are not proficient with certain software programs, Katz says being in between jobs is a good time to go back to school and acquire the technical skills you might need for your next position. "Go sharpen your skills," she said.
Katz also suggests that you change your voicemail message on any phone numbers that you provide to prospective employers. "Sometimes people are too lax and have a whimsical message on their answering machines," she said. "It's the simple things that are important."
If need be, Katz recommends that you hire a professional writer who can make sure your resume is as professional and error-free as possible. "The higher the level the position you are seeking, the more professional your resume should look," she said.
Hire a career coach. If you weren't fortunate enough to receive outplacement services as part of your severance package, Katz recommends that you hire a professional who can help you identify your career objectives and identify your strengths and weaknesses. The coach might also help you re–invent yourself and identify the career of your dreams. "For a lot of us, losing a job represents an opportunity to move on to the next phase of our life," she said.
Be introspective. FPA member Ken Ziesenheim, CFP®, recommends asking yourself these questions: What it is that you have always wanted to do in terms of a career, but haven't pursued for whatever reason? What parts of your current or former career do your really like, but never pursued fully? With the answers to those questions, Ziesenheim said you will be able to make "a realistic assessment whether it is attainable with additional education, a relocation or some other variable, and then either go back to school, attempt an apprenticeship, get a part–time job while you pursue the dream and see if 'it just can't be done.'"
Take a self-assessment test. Being in–between jobs is also a good time to take a personality assessment and vocational tests. Those tests can help you get a sense of your skills and traits and give you something to discuss in a cover letter and job interview. It's important to know your work style and how you approach problems.
Network, network, network. If you think you'll get a job by sending cover letters and resumes in response to help wanted ads, think again. Most people find their next job by working their network of former colleagues, friends and family. "Work your network," said Katz. "A warm lead is better than a cold lead and a hot lead is better than a warm lead. Ultimately, it's who you know." Consider using professional networking sites such as LinkedIn vs. social networking websites such as FaceBook or MySpace when looking for a new job. She also suggests that you remove any information and photographs that might adversely affect your job search for social and professional networking sites. "Remember, recruiters will look at everything," Katz said.
Check your public records. Besides searching for information about you on social and professional networking websites, recruiters and potential employers will also investigate any and all public records. For instance, they will likely examine your credit score, which according to Katz, means that you should get your credit scores and correct any mistakes long before applying for a new job.
Hire a financial planner. "When searching for a new job or career, it's important to determine whether you have the financial resources to accomplish any of the tasks described above," said Ziesenheim. Of course, the best approach is to have a financial planner in place long before you're unemployed. "If you have a good financial planner, you would have sufficient reserves to buy yourself some time to explore these avenues," he said.