Recover Your Professional IT Profile After Losing Your Job
Job loss happens to the best of us. The layoffs and business closures of the COVID-19 pandemic proved this fact. There are also times when our own actions lead to termination.
When that happens, does it doom the future of your IT career? It doesn’t have to. The following tips can help you get back on your feet and recover your professional profile.
First, we’ll tackle the question, should you include a job you were fired from on a resume?
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Spin the Experience as a Positive
If you were fired rather than laid off from your job, you might desire to erase and ignore the entire experience. But you should not leave the offending work experience off your resume. To do so would be to create a career gap, which we will discuss in more detail below.
Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. What relevant experience did this job provide? What tasks or accomplishments correlate directly to those of the position you’re vying for? Describe these in the bulleted points of the work experience entry for this role.
Remember, you don’t have to mention the fact that you were fired. Simply include the dates of employment as you would for any other experience.
An Exception to the Rule
Are there times when you should leave the job you were fired from off your resume? Yes. If you did not pass a probationary period or were fired after just a few months, you can omit this experience. It won’t leave a large employment gap, and you’ll avoid the red flags that would inevitably be raised by so short an employment.
Fills the Gaps
Career gaps aren’t as big a deal as they once were. Today, most people change jobs every three to four years, and there may be a gap in between. People also take gap years after schooling or time off to raise a family, care for their health, write a book, travel, or for other reasons.
Still, filling a gap with relevant experience can negate the need to explain the gap. Soon after losing your job, you can take steps to fill the gap with something good. This could include:
- IT professionals are always in demand, and individuals or small to medium-sized businesses often can’t afford to hire one full-time. When they need IT assistance, they will hire a freelance consultant. Freelance work can fill the gap in your work history.
- Going back to school. Continuing education is a worthy goal, especially in the ever-changing field of information technology. Consider going back to school to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Then, your gap becomes a career asset that increases your employability.
- Pursuing a certification. Getting a certification—or multiple certifications—serves the same goal as a degree, and they are usually much cheaper to obtain. You can set your own schedule when you get certified online.
- Starting a personal project. If you don’t want to do any of the above, consider working on a passion project you haven’t previously had time for. Work on an open-source program, serve a local non-profit pro bono, write an IT blog, create instructional YouTube videos, or something else.
Think Like a Marketer
Whether or not your preferred role involves digital marketing, you can think like a marketer to sell yourself to your next employer. Optimize the SEO for your professional website. Establish yourself as an expert in your field by writing informative articles. Create professional social media accounts along with content that makes the complexities of IT accessible to the masses. Stay up-to-date on emerging trends so that you’ll present the latest skills to your next employer.
Get Back on the Horse
Upskilling, passion projects, and polishing the face you present to the world can help you regain your confidence. There is also wisdom in the old adage about ‘getting back on the horse.’ Take time to take care of yourself, but don’t procrastinate about looking for your next job. Brush up your LinkedIn profile and reach out to your professional network for leads—according to Forbes, 80 percent of job offers come via networking.
Search for positions on online job boards and apply to those that appeal to you. In fact, you should plan on applying to 20+ jobs, perhaps more. If you apply to two or three jobs each day, this process will only take a few weeks.
What if you seem to be having trouble finding a position like the one you lost? Consider expanding your search to include other roles you are qualified for. For example, rather than applying only to IT firms, could you expand your search to include IT roles at retailers or hospitals?
Losing a job is not a death knell for your career. Don’t speak negatively about your former position; focus on the highlights. Fill the gap with gig work or continuous learning. Most importantly, don’t give up, even if your job search seems to take longer than expected.
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