Game on.
January 6, 2012 4:14 AM   Subscribe

My employer just gave me notice. What, if anything, can I do today despite my resume not being updated?

Got the news yesterday that my contract wouldn't be extended past the end of the month due to budget reasons (Happy New Year! At least it's not reflective of my performance and I got some great experience). So, it's game time; time to suit up and secure that next position.

I've spent last night updating my resume but don't feel like it's good enough yet need a little more time to finish polishing it; it'll be ready by Saturday or Sunday night.

Fortunately, I have a rolodex of HR contacts and headhunters who have expressed interest in the last few weeks (ie. since December) and a shortlist that I want to start with. I've convinced myself that applying to companies today and following up with an "updated/improved" resume next week is a bad idea.

Can I get a gut check from the hive mind on a couple of things, though? Making "Hi I'm looking and will send you a resume next week" calls to recruiters today is a bad idea, right? And what's the current thinking on contacting HR people on Mondays – I've heard it's better not to make initial contact on Monday or Friday, and wait for mid-week instead. On the one hand, I'll definitely be more polished and will present better if I start the campaign on Tuesday morning (I'm still working, so it will be emails/voicemails at the start of the day and hopefully follow ups at lunch and potential meetings after work) but I'm also very aware that sooner is better and I don't want to waste any time - those December inquiries could very well be filled already. My days are numbered and I want to make the best of them. But on the first hand, first impressions matter.

Am I missing anything that I can set in motion today, before the weekend, without looking unprepared? Or should I just calm down and focus on concluding my project work and postpone worrying about this until the weekend? I'm getting a haircut and getting my suit dry cleaned tomorrow - what do you do to gear up for the hunt?
posted by ceribus peribus to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're employed through the end of this month, from how I'm reading your question. I would certainly take the time to check your resume, get your ideas in order, and start fresh next week rather than send something hastily on a Friday because you're panicking.

If you have headhunters and HR people who have made inquiries to you, then sending a brief e-mail saying that your contract is up and you'll be looking for work as of February 1st (or whenever you're free) would make sense, and let them know you're available to interview/chat/whatever next week. That way, you give yourself some time to polish up your resume and think about customization of cover letters and such.
posted by xingcat at 4:25 AM on January 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

Resume first. Do nothing until that's ready.
posted by tel3path at 4:29 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Spend the weekend completing your resume and prioritising who you're going to contact first next week. Don't start contacting people until you've worked out your pitch - who you are, what you can offer and what you want.

Then start in earnest next week. Any recruiter who ignores you "because it's a Monday" is probably not worth dealing with.

Good luck!
posted by Simon_ at 4:33 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can start reaching out to people in your network immediately. Not to ask for work as such, but rather to get together for informal coffee/ lunch meetings.
posted by zeikka at 4:41 AM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Sorry to hear your horrible news. Don't panic though - and don't rush into contacting your contacts.

Get your CV just right. Have a long old think about what you want your next move to be and then, and only then, pick up the phone.
posted by dmt at 4:43 AM on January 6, 2012

HR contacts and direct hiring inquiries should wait until you are ready to immediately follow-up on any hint of interest. You can step up general networking now though. Also, you can line up and contact references, recommendations and the like to go with your resume.
posted by meinvt at 4:49 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Take a day to breathe and get your resume and such in order. It can be a bad thing if you start sending things out that are not fully fleshed out. Then you have to go back and correct it which is no good.

You have a month. Use a day or two of that. Given that it is Friday, plan for Tuesday to be the big day of sending.
posted by lampshade at 5:08 AM on January 6, 2012

I respectfully and completely disagree about resume first, since you'll be customizing it to each individual opening at hand.

If recruiters called you in December, CALL THEM FIRST, working backward from the most recent call Chances are good those openings are still available.

Do this now, since the average time to hire (in the US, at least) is seven weeks.
posted by pomegranate at 5:15 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ask a headhunter to take a look at your resume, and ask how you can make it better.

Also, if you can, give yourself six months to find that perfect job.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:18 AM on January 6, 2012

It's Friday. Fridays are a bad time to get things like this going, as people will be off work for the next two days. Finish your resume over the weekend and hit the ground running on Monday.
posted by valkyryn at 5:25 AM on January 6, 2012

Before you exit make sure you have copies of your annual performance reviews. Write a summary of each project you worked on and major milestones accomplished and the roles you performed. Update your linked in profile. Get your current manager and colleagues to write recommendations there as well (reciprocal offers usually work).
Make a plan for your severance period. Are there any classes or certifications you should work on during the period you are looking for a job. Finally if there are any professional association for your field join them. See if your current bosses will pay te cost of joining up.
posted by humanfont at 5:26 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

//Ask a headhunter to take a look at your resume, and ask how you can make it better.//

Don't do this. Headhunters are not resume experts, they are salespeople, and quite frankly, often not very good salespeople. 10 headhunters will give you 10 opinions on what a resume should look like. If somebody you respect and trust just happens to be a headhunter, then sure - go ahead. Or ask anybody that you respect if you'd like a 2nd opinion.

Relax over the weekend, get your resume cleaned up, update your LinkedIn profile if needs attention, and make a list of the people you want to contact immediately. Good luck!
posted by COD at 5:39 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

While you're still on the job, see about references. The only real question that matters when references get checked is "would you hire 'X' again if you could?". If you can get a reference letter from your supervisor while you're still employed, it may help. (Obviously, this doesn't apply in some fields, do whatever works in your environment).

Also make sure you know the reference policies. Some companies will only provide dates of employment.

If you use LinkedIn, let your network know you'll be available as of February 1st (or whatever). I've actually had an interview through LinkedIn, so it's not just a social networking scam.
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:00 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is probably obvious, but talk to friends in your field (or other fields you might want to be in!), regardless of whether they're in HR or not. You'll be surprised what can come of people suddenly coming out of the woodwork. Yes, it's a long shot -- and you need to realize this and not go in with expectations or prioritize it over your resume and whatnot -- but you also have nothing to lose, right?
posted by dekathelon at 7:48 AM on January 6, 2012

Thanks everyone for your prompt insights and providing the grounding I needed. I think the shock is starting to wear off now and you've been a huge help in keeping me from making panic moves that I'd regret later. More feedback this evening.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2012

I found this advice from lifehacker useful, as well as from these somewhat related questions, when my job ended.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:08 AM on January 6, 2012

nthing the "Resume First" crowd. I just had a friend who was looking for a job, and another friend who was hiring. It would have been a perfect match. But looking-friend did not have resume ready (and didn't tell me so). After two weeks of emails between me and hiring-friend, he gave up on looking-friend as a flake because he still hadn't received a resume.

Bad feelings all around, in spite of good intentions.

Resume First.
posted by DaveP at 11:33 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks again to everyone. I've marked some best answers which I happened to find most pertinent for my situation but all were appreciated.

I gave an immediate heads up to the agency I'm working through now, but held off on contacting anyone else until I'm ready (as meinvt suggested) to follow up right away. We've discussed a good client of hers to try next, but she needs (and is eagerly awaiting) my resume in order to make the first move. I refrained from contacting anyone else so far because I'm afraid it would turn into the situation that DaveP described.

I'm actually working a little harder at the office these last few weeks, to turn some of my project work into more general infrastructure that would be useful to more in house application groups (than the early adopter group that's providing the budget) in the hopes that we could claim part of their budget in return. It was my manager's suggestion, and if that doesn't work out he says it's possible they could get some kind of extended scope in Q2 to bring me back in if I'm available. The implicit willingness to rehire me is really appreciated, but I'm going to commit to my search regardless of whether a last minute budget deal can be made (confidentially of course, in that case).

KokuRyu, I wish I could take a leisurely few months (I have the financial buffer), but a) I want to take the first steps before my contract expires, since there is such a bias against hiring the unemployed, and b) not being a citizen means that I lose status once the contract is up. My border is only 400 miles away, so it's not that much of a hardship, but it's still not a fun limbo to be in and it's so hard not to take the first reasonable opening when you find one in that situation. Not that any unemployment is fun, but most people don't have to immediately move out, leave town, and leave the country when their job ends. I was kind of hoping to wait until my next anniversary passed and then start looking for a dream job if I wasn't completely satisfied, but a C-manager shuffle, department reorg, and budget overhaul has forced the issue.

Thanks again for the feedback, everyone. I don't want to turn this askMe into my job blog, so I'll stop after this update. In case anyone is curious, I'm a senior backend developer who has been working in the financial field in NYC for several years now; I love this business domain and living in this city so I'm looking forward to securing another role here.

If anyone is curious or interested, feel free to memail me for a better introduction (I'm trying to keep this pseudonym reasonably anonymous from casual googling). I've no doubt there are fellow mefites in parallel careers so you never know. I have some promising leads but I don't want to behave arrogantly by treating anything as a sure thing.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:23 AM on January 11, 2012

If anyone is curious, I'm trying hard not to do that repeating clauses thing in my cover letters.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:41 AM on January 11, 2012

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