It happens more than we like to hear but it is becoming more of a way of life for many. So, what can you do if you find yourself packing your things into a cardboard box?

It did happen to me, 27 years ago, so I’m speaking from experience. Sometimes a layoff can be a blessing, but if not, here are some tips you may want to consider.

1. Understand what you are signing and how it can affect your future employment. If you have a non-compete, confirm with HR if it is still binding or, better yet, run it by an employment attorney. If there are several of you, maybe go together to get your answers. You need to know your rights and they do vary by state.

2. Take a few days off to clear your head. This is a stressful time and you should step back to allow yourself to really think about where you want to go with your career. Remember, there is an extreme shortage of talented professionals at many companies, so think outside the box. Even consider if it is time to change the scenery and possibly relocate. Think about what makes you unique and why a company should hire you. Prepare yourself to share why, and think of examples to prove your strengths.

3. Start a draft of a new resume. Remember the old radio term WIFM? What’s In it For Me? Consider what you did, how you did it, and how it helped your previous employer. Resumes need to illustrate your measurable accomplishments and not just a list of duties. Share numbers, percentages, and powerful words that set you apart.

4. Update your LinkedIn and other social media sites so people know how to contact you. Be sure your content on those pages is clear at painting a picture of what you can do, what you have accomplished, your top skills, and what you are looking to do for your next career move. Ask for testimonials. Include an updated picture.

5. Start updating your contacts, both on your own and through LinkedIn and other social media. Reach out to professionals you know who may be able to refer you for a new job. The more contacts you have, the more you will learn about new opportunities.

6. Start researching companies you would like to work with and read their job descriptions for what they are looking for in a new hire. Look for keywords that should be included in your resume. Keep in mind, one resume doesn’t fit all openings. Be prepared to match your skills with what they are looking to hire. With many companies using Applicant Tracking Systems, a computer will be reading your resume vs. a human, so focus on what they are advertising for in their ad.

7. Get a card printed with a key line or two and your contact information. Start attending networking meetings to learn what is going on out there. Ninety-four percent of jobs are found through word of mouth, so the more people you connect with, the more people who are there to recommend you.

If there was ever a time to get let go, there are several positives – unemployment is very low; it is the first of the year when more jobs tend to open up as people earn their previous year’s bonus and move on, and lastly, it gives you a chance to reevaluate your career. Just ask me!