It starts quietly.

You hear rumblings about it from colleagues; it’s all anyone can talk about. Company morale is low and people are getting panicky. Suddenly, they let go of 25 people in your department with more layoffs expected. 2 months later, you get your pink slip. You don’t have any prospects in sight, everyone you know is laid off, and your resume has been severely neglected.

What do you do now?

For starters, you need to release some emotion and frustration, so plan on going out with your friends and/or family the weekend after you are let go and HAVE FUN. Forget about the job for a day or two and just  try to relax. You can’t expect a response from anyone if you apply for a job on a weekend, so there is no sense in worrying.

Next, start contacting old friends, colleagues and relatives to let them know you are on the market. Start social networking– join LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Plaxo and/or all the other social networking sites available, set up your profile and let people know you are job searching.

Go to business lunches, job fairs, trade shows and join any associations in your field.  Keep your entire job search organized by using jibberjobber (one of my favorite sites for job search management).  Get your resume, cover letter and references in order so you aren’t in a panic if you see a job you really, really want.

Doing these things will make you feel productive and will keep the blues at bay. The busier you are, the better you will feel. I notice that clients of mine who are sitting around waiting for the right job have the hardest time. But it’s not only keeping busy with job search, but with other things as well. When was the last time you read a book? Painted? Played golf? Planted a garden? “Interim Time” as I call it (time in between jobs), is a great time to start a hobby you’ve always wanted to do. I read a great article by Brazen Careerist’s,  Penelope Trunk who put it perfectly, “5 Things to do when you are unemployed. Hint: it’s not job hunting”. I loved this because it makes sense. Penelope talks about starting a blog, or launching a company, or doing something you’ve always wanted to do.

Before I got the job at the career center, I had 6 months of job search. Yuck. But I took it as an opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do:  cross stitch. Sounds silly, but I always thought there is something about a beautiful work of cross stitch that always moved me. It looked so tedious, but at the same time, challenging. So, I went to the cross stitch store, bought a pattern, thread and canvas, and began my work of art. Talk about time consuming! It became my treat to myself , my reward, after sending out resumes, going on interviews, or making connections that day. It was tedious, hard on the eyes and tiresome, but I loved every minute of it. It also distracted me, which kept me from obsessing on the fact that I didn’t have a job.

Make small goals, keep yourself busy and then being unemployed won’t be so depressing. Besides, you’ll be working before you know it and then you’ll wish you were out doing some of the things you could be doing now!