I first came across Mitch Derman when I participated in HAPPO (how great was that?). He took me up on my offer to showcase job seekers on my blog but, as luck would have it, was imprisoned by my spam filter that day.

To make up for it, I asked Mitch if he’d like to guest post on WUL, which is what led to a precursor to this post. I got delayed in publishing it, so what a grand surprise it was when Mitch asked if he could edit it slightly because… he’d found a job!

Here are some great lessons he shares while on the search (image, Sascha Assbach, Creative Commons). And congrats, Mitch.

In my mind, every time that I envisioned getting laid off, I always thought there would be an empty box by my desk.

So when there was no box by my desk in November 2002, I was surprised by the call to come down to the General Manager’s office at the PR firm where I worked, only to see him seated at his meeting table with the HR rep by his side and a folder with my name on it.  I knew right away it was my last day of employment with the company.

While the moment surprised me, I had a feeling this might happen given the dotcom era had been replaced by the dotbomb era.  And all of our clients were in the technology industry.

Certainly this was a traumatic experience and one I would not wish on my worst enemy.  Needless to say, it was a learning experience.

For me, the biggest thing I learned the hard way was that I did not have a strong network in place.

At the time, while there were Internet resources such as Career Builder, Monster and others, there was no LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.  I immediately joined IABC and PRSA, and attended various networking events.

Those activities certainly helped, but I know now that I would have been far more successful had I already built a strong network before the layoff.  It took me nearly six months to get a new job.

When I re-joined the workforce, I took my lesson to heart and tried to the best of my ability to stay active in professional and social interactions, where I could meet and network with as many people as possible.  I attended many events, participated in volunteer efforts and became active on social media channels once they started becoming ubiquitous in 2006.

Flash forward to today.

While different circumstances than 2002, I found myself on the job search once again earlier this year.

I left a job in February.  This time around, I was in a much better position.

I had multiple interviews; many of which were a direct result of networking. Once I knew that I would be leaving, I reached out to everyone I could through e-mail, LinkedIn and Facebook.  So many people offered to help and forwarded me leads.  And these were people that I stayed in touch with beyond just friending them on social networks.

I would post things, send congratulatory notes when people started a new job or were promoted, and I would forward job leads to those I knew were looking or were recently laid off.  I also started a blog.

Thanks to the help of my network, I’m happy to report that I started my new job on March 29.

Additional resources:

  • Starting a blog is easy.  I used blogspot.
  • The Twitter Hashtag #happo (Help a PR Pro Out) is a great resource.
  • On LinkedIn, there are many networking groups to join; one being the Capital Communicators Group.  PRSA and IABC also have forums on most social media channels.

Guest author Mitchell Derman is a communications professional with more than 15 years of experience helping organizations enhance their visibility with external and internal stakeholders, in industries such as technology, telecommunications, media, aerospace and defense.  He is now Director of Corporate Communications for i2, a leading provider of intelligence and investigation management software for law enforcement, defense and intelligence analysis.  Visit him online at Mitch’s Beltway Banter.