This month iMag spoke to real people to learn about their experience getting laid off and provide them with the advice they need to get back on track. Our coaches, Robert Hellman and Laura Grashow-Rywell, stepped in to help them find their next job.

Anne’s* Pink Slip

Number of years at company: 20 years

Brief description of job: Operations Manager for large bank

How did it happen? The bank moved operations to a different location where it cost the company less money to operate.

What’s your biggest concern? I have six months severance and unemployment, very lucky. But I'm worried about where I'll find another job equivalent.

First thing you did: Filed for unemployment

Right now: Anne* has been working as a waitress to earn money while she searches for a new job.

Robert Hellman, Five O'Clock Club Career Coach, shares his advice:

I would advice Anne first to quit the waitressing job. Taking a waitress job for cash flow is okay, but if she has six months of severance, why not focus 100 percent on keeping her career on track? I would recommend that Anne treat looking for a job as her full-time job, spending 35 to 40 hours a week on her search — particularly while she has severance.

Anne’s best chance of finding a similar job is to pitch herself correctly to potential employers and expand the pool of potential interview opportunities. She should create a marketing plan containing a list of target companies she is interested in. This is her guide for getting interviews, and she can show this list during all of her networking meetings. At the Five O’Clock Club, we say to always have six to 10 things in the works during your search, because five of those six things will fall away through no fault of your own. If Anne can build this kind of momentum, she is only a short distance away from landing a similar job.

Anne should resist the temptation to rely solely on ads and headhunters to get interviews. These are passive methods of obtaining interviews, because they require her to wait for positions to be posted. In addition, competition can be fierce: there can be more than a thousand applicants just for one ad, and candidates will have to match the requirements exactly. We have found that only about 12% of jobs are found through these methods.

Anne should prioritize the two “active” methods of getting interviews: Networking (getting a meeting through someone you know) and Direct Contact (approaching someone you don’t know to request a meeting). From our research, we have found that about 88% of jobs are landed through these methods.

For networking, Anne should take an expansive approach to assessing her network. She should include her co-workers, dentist, accountant, family, friends, people she hasn’t spoken to in five years but who would be happy to hear from her, and so forth. Other sources of networking contacts include professional associations, alumni associations, religious affiliations, clubs, on-line networking such as LinkedIn, and so forth.

Anne should then be able to clearly pitch herself to these people in her network — say exactly what she wants, and give examples of why she’s great at it and how she can use her background to help organizations. At the Five O’Clock Club we call this the Two-Minute Pitch (create shorter versions as necessary). Anne will make it much easier for people to help her if she can tell them exactly what she wants, and also where she wants to do it.

Dr. Laura Grashow, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, weighs in:

Anne is showing how persistence and taking action can make a big difference during these hard times. The concept of Locus of Control was put forth by Julian B. Rotter as part of Social Learning Theory back in the 1950’s. Those of us with an external locus of control are more likely to feel that things are really beyond our control — especially during these hard times, whereas those with an internal locus operate on the basic belief system that what happens in their lives is up to them — in their control. They take responsibility for themselves — are less likely to give up and more likely to work harder to achieve goals. Anyone who goes from operations manager in a bank to waitress has done just that. Anne has taken action and done what she had to do to keep going. Hopefully she is doing so without berating herself. Hopefully she is serving customers with a smile — comforted by the knowledge that she can rely on herself to take action; that she has the power to take care of herself.

For more info on Rob & Laura:

Robert Hellman is Associate Director of the Five O’Clock Club Guild of Career Coaches. He’s also a Guild member himself with a substantial private practice, and teaches Career Development at NYU. Rob has over 20 years of experience in Marketing and Organizational Development through organizations such as JP Morgan Chase, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and American Express. In addition, Rob founded his own successful marketing/multimedia production company where he has worked with clients such as the Audubon Society and 1-800-flowers. His educational background includes a BS in Economics from Binghamton University and an MBA in Finance/Marketing from Fordham University .

You can contact Rob through the Five O’Clock Club at 212-286-4500, or by sending an e-mail to guild@fiveoclockclub.com

Laura Grashow Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist who has been working with children, adolescents and families for over 15 years. She specializes in relationship issues, parenting, divorce, and child development. For more information, see Dr. Laura's website.

Plus, check out Laura's new book "Dating the Older Man." It is the ultimate comprehensive guide to coping with large age differences in love relationships. In today's world, factors such as high divorce rates, plastic surgery, increased life span, internet dating, and even Viagra are making older men more available and more attractive choices for younger women. Get great practical answers to real problems and dilemmas -- including issues relating to blended families and how to be a step-parent. The book is a veritable "how to" for relationships packed with great strategies and is an invaluable resource for women in the modern dating world.

*Individuals names have been changed*

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