This article was originally published on LinkedIn and is the actual testimony of the author.

“On February 22nd, I had a meeting with my manager and was relieved of my duties. I’m almost 40, and for the first time in my life I was being laid off.

Yesterday, I started my next adventure with a new employer in a position I am amazed I was able to get.

This blog posting will be my attempt to share with you what I learned about myself, about my job search, and yeah…

This wasn’t the first time I had been unemployed. When I moved to New England, I did so without a job. After a month of sending out my resume to HR black hole after black hole and not hearing back a peep, I walked into a temp agency and got a temp position within a week. After three months, I was offered a full time job. The job was easy, I did it, and had plenty of downtime to do things like write speeches for Toastmasters. But I wasn’t mentally stimulated, so I literally applied for any internal job that remotely seemed interesting. After four years of sending more applications into that HR black hole, I finally got a shot, and was offered a promotion.

My job challenged me, forced me to work harder, be more diligent, and taught me very valuable transferable skills like SharePoint. Then three years later I found myself unemployed.

Because I knew how hard it was to get a job, especially a job I liked, there was a part of me that was scared I would never find a job. I feared I would spend months sending emails into more HR black holes and then I would finally have to go back to the temp agency and get another temp job and hope it worked out.

I even talked with my wife about being a stay at home dad, and on the weekends being a wedding photographer again. We ran some numbers and frankly it wasn’t something that fiscally could work. Health insurance premiums were going to kill us.

Luckily, part of my severance package was that I got to work with a company that helped people in job transition called Lee Hecht Harrison. Through them, I took online seminars about things like creating an exit statement, maximizing your LinkedIn profile, and how create a soar (situation, obstacles, actions, results) story. I attended workshops on how to get insurance if you don’t have a job, how to spruce up your resume, how to handle interviews and did networking with companies.

One of the things that helped the most was working with my career coach at Lee Hecht Harrison.

I never had a great resume, but I thought what I had looked good. My career coach and I had disagreements over trivial things like font choices. I mean really who uses arial anymore? But she helped me see that recruiters generally skim resumes. You need to have it formatted in such a way that they feel very comfortable finding the information you want them to find. And using arial over say California FB (my personal branding) helps them do that.

Also at Lee Hecht Harrison, I attended a weekly support group called the Job Search Work Team. Through those sessions I was able to meet other people and learn what they were doing. I was also able to share what I learned and was doing too. I went to the Monday morning group and found it was a great way to start my week.

Through my Job Search Work Team I learned of a website called jobscan.co.

They take your resume and compare it to a job posting you are going to apply for. It looks at your hard skills, your soft skills and other skills, and then tells you what percentage it thinks you are a match. The best part however was it showed you what words you needed to add to your resume to be a better match. IE you are great at “process improvement”, but the job posting needs someone who knows “change management”. Those are two words that mean basically the same thing, but odds are the HR computer doesn’t know that. As someone who loves video games, this was fun trying to see if I could “beat the HR black hole game”.

Jobscan.co helped me see where my resume was lacking and helped me get past the filter so a human could find me. I applied for 45 jobs, and had 9 phone interviews with HR recruiters, a roughly 20% success rate. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have had a 70+% success rate, but compared to my 0.001% I had over the past 8 years I have lived here? It was a huge improvement.

Of the nine phone interviews, I had two actual interviews, and I got one job offer.

So if you find yourself looking for your next career follow my advice and do those following three things:

1) Work with a career coach, take their advice and follow it. Seriously, Arial isn’t the end of the world.
2) Get a support group, it’s great for networking and staying sane. Plus, when people from the support group get a job, they usually bring in doughnuts to celebrate.
3) Figure out how to maximize your resume to appeal to the job you are applying for. The yearly subscription to jobscan.co was the best money I spent on my job search. Aside of course from the celebratory doughnuts I brought to my support group last week.

Aloha from Western Massachusetts,
Brian David Crawford, DTM

Brian David Crawford is a Data Analyst based in Springfield, Massachusetts. He is currently employed by Cigna as a Tech Support Specialist and is an excellent photographer and owns his own company BDC Photography. Brian has been a Jobscan user for three months. You can see his LinkedIn profile here

Interested in sharing your story? Email [email protected]

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