“I’ve been laid off 26 times!”

Years ago, at the beginning of my JibberJobber journey, I was in Houston presenting at a few job clubs. I was invited to an outplacement networking group… which was a far cry from the churches I normally presented in.

This outplacement office was swanky. Seriously swanky. It was in a super nice building, on a top floor so it felt like an executive office. No expense was spared. It’s what they call a Class A facility, which means really expensive.

So I get there early and got to chat with a few of the job seekers. One guy said, with a weird mix of pride and conflicting feelings, “I’ve been laid off 26 times! What do you think I should do?”

JibberJobber Job Search Attitudes

“Write a book!” I told him. He was thinking how bad it was to be laid off 26 times… maybe he chose the wrong companies to go to, maybe economy happened, maybe Enron happened… but 26 times has to take a hit at your moral. When I said write a book I was looking at it from the other side: he had found a job 26 times! He was an expert in finding and landing jobs!

I often wondered what he would write in his book (which I’m sure he never wrote). Job search ideas, tactics, strategies, and attitudes that only someone like him, who lived through the emotional rollercoaster 26 times, could write.

This morning I was chatting with a friend and colleague about a pending job offer that was at a small, funded startup. She was concerned that working at a startup was risky… riskier than working at, say, a Fortune 500 company.

My advice came down to this: you have to understand your own risk tolerance. Then, figure out if the risk is worth it. Startups don’t inherently mean you’ll get laid off any more than Fortune 500 means you’ll have job security. I’d say the job security risk is about the same.

As we were chatting I remembered the 26 layoffs guy. I thought that perhaps the most important takeaway he could leave us is to be mentally prepared to always be looking for a job. Not necessarily applying, but you should always be networking. Always reinforcing and strengthening your personal brand. And eventually, when the time is right, get your multiple income streams up and running.

Really. I think more important that job search strategies (which will change with time) is the attitude that we have. Looking for job security? That’s probably the wrong thing to look for. Instead, figure out what you can do to be more hirable. How can you tap into the “hidden job market?” How can you have a presence in the right communities, EVEN IF you are an introvert? What skills can you work on to make yourself a more appealing hire?

Attitude over tactics. I’ve never thought about it that way before, but if you have the wrong attitude then tactics won’t matter that much… because you’ll just be back to “searching” sooner than you want.