Using the Web to Advance My Career: How Getting “Laid Off” Paid Off 4 Comments


This post was written by Raina Van Cleave for the The Talent Buzz blog post contest.

Due to “tough economic times,” my “position” had been laid off, and unfortunately I was going with it!

It was my first full-time job out of college and my first time losing one. I spent three years managing projects, providing Web usability consultation and testing CDs/DVDs, and Web applications.

So the question to follow was, “What should I do now?”

I was skeptical to move to another city and take a major loss on the “not guaranteed” sale of my quaint two bedroom/two bath house in the heart of an award winning community. I decided I wanted to focus my energy on advancing my Web career, learning more about social media and Web usability, as well as improving my graphic design skills.

In order to accomplish these goals and really showcase my skills, I knew I had to become more involved in the Web development industry through an in-depth exploration of social media, Web marketing, and social networking.

Here are some tips on how I made my situation of getting laid off into a huge pay off, turning my last job into just the beginning of my Web career:

Step 1: Brand Yourself Professionally

First impressions are significantly important, so make them worthwhile and have positive impact.

First, buy a domain. I bought the domain RainaVanCleave.com and hosting from (in my opinion, one of the worst user-friend Web sites) GoDaddy.

Next, create a Web site and online portfolio.

I wanted to brand myself as “professional, reliable, and knowledgeable,” both on and off the Web. And I kept my brand consistent by incorporating my design into my print materials, particularly my résumé and Web copywriting portfolio.

Step 2: Make Content User Friendly & Informative

If you don’t capture users attention in the first five seconds, you’ve probably already lost them to another Web site. Most users aren’t reading your content, they’re scanning it. Make your content easy to read using simple language while conveying an effective message.

  • Use bullets to convey information
  • Sell yourself wand reveal your personality professionally
  • Develop a portfolio to showcase you work (include links and images)
  • Make your contact information and résumé easy for users to find
  • Increase your Google page rank and opportunities through SEO marketing

Step 3: Increase Your Knowledge & Share Your Voice

Learn about your industry. Find what drives you and you will succeed. You can start by turning your knowledge into blog posts. Blog entries don’t need to be super long but they do need to be informative.

Try brainstorming at least 10 different topics you could confidently speak or write and follow these blogging tips:

  • Choose a niche’ and write to your audience
  • Keep blogging–that’s the most important part of it all
  • Use keywords, which are the essence of a blog
  • Make it interesting by presenting ideas visually
  • Encourage comments to your blog posts
  • Use subheadings for long posts
  • Engage readers with an interesting title and lead sentence

Step 4: Explore Social Networking

Don’t be shy…networking now is easier than ever! Social networking can generate job leads, and other great business opportunities. Try some of these social networking sites to advance your career:

Twitter.com – search and find others in your industry
LinkedIn.com – create an online résumé, network with clients, and request recommendations
Plaxo.com – keep track of your contacts easily
Ning.com – create your own social network

Step 5: Apply for Jobs, Interview, & Follow Up

Avoid small but detrimental mistakes by following these job seeking tips:

  • Make sure your résumé and the cover letter are error-free by proofreading them and even have other people proofread them
  • Wear a suit to the interview, it’s your first time meeting a potential employer so make it count!
  • Be prepared to provide a hard copy of your résumé and references (always have at least 3 copies)
  • Remain interested; take notes during your interview and ALWAYS ask questions (prepare at least three questions prior)
  • Follow up with a “thank you!” (reference your interview notes and include information you learned about the position and employer)

Step 6: Continue Your Education

So I can really flourish and stand out from my competition, I’ve decided to expand my knowledge and enroll in graphic design school.

Don’t stop learning. Continue your education by reading blogs, books, attending conferences and even taking classes. These are all great ways to network too!

I had thought I was advancing my career with my previous employer, however, I’ve learned that this has just opened more windows for my success. And although, I’m still a fresh candidate for new opportunities in the Web industry, I’ve already taken the necessary steps to advance my Career on the Web which has lead to some great opportunities.

About Jason Buss

Talent HQ’s creator and editor is Recruiting & Diversity Leader, Jason Buss. Talent HQ is a premier online news and information channel for the Recruiting and Human Resources community.

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  • Posted on: Sunday, March 1st, 2009
  • This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Erin Whaley says:

      Way to make a positive approach to a negative situation. Great website and the goals you have listed are clearly objectifiable components to enhancing your career. You deserve to win this contest and will be a huge asset to any company. Your work is great quality and your professionalism and skill are apparent. Great job! Keep it up!

    2. Terri Lindley says:

      I am proud of you – I agree with Erin! Way to go with making your cup half full instead of half empty. Your website is terrific. Keep up the good work.

    3. david speer says:

      Nicely done Raina. Sorry i missed you in NYC but glad you got to see my show, “In the Heights”. Good “nuts and bolts”, useful info and good luck with school!
      david speer

    4. Martin Tremblay says:

      Good day Raina,

      Amazing!!! I am so impressed with your strategy to become re-employed! Your experience and related comments are extremely important for senior management like myself to understand how to re-enter the workforce. I also thought it would never happen to me after 25 years with the same company. My employer was the largest telecommunications provider in Canada for almost 100 Years, and have just declared Chapter 11! If you publish future articles/comments is there any way to ensure we can can read?

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