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Dana WilsonJust been laid off?

Saying you’re not alone is an understatement indeed.

In the wake of widespread layoffs, the best advice is get over your job loss pronto and get your career back on track.

Here are some practical job-hunting dos and don’ts. First the dos:

Keep finances in order. Job-hunters must deal with many unknowns, the biggest of which is trying to estimate how long it will take to land a new job. Statistics say that the higher the salary on a prior job, the longer it takes to find a comparable position. Thinking pragmatically, it could take two to three months to find another job – maybe longer. Even if funds are socked away for emergencies, cut back and spend prudently.

Get organized. Set up a home office so that the job search can be managed comfortably. It could be a room, a portion of a room, even a ventilated closet that can act as a makeshift office. This is the place to stow records, computer, phone and job-hunting paraphernalia.

Keep in shape. Job-hunting isn’t fun. The process can be tedious, monotonous and boring. They’ll be good and bad days. There will also be depressing days when nothing goes right, which is all the more reason to set aside a certain amount of time every day, say 30 to 45 minutes, to exercise. Jog, swim or take a long walk. Pick an enjoyable exercise that works off stress and excess energy. The result is a fit body and an alert mind.

Create a schedule. And live by it. It’s very easy to slip into bad habits when jobless. Most people need disciplined work schedules. Working alone isn’t easy for some. As difficult as it is to set schedules and stick by them, it’s critical for efficient job hunting.

Pursue several job-source avenues. But only pursue venues that lead to your desired position. They ought to include niche job sites, social networking sites, daily newspapers and trade/professional publications. Each one ought to be compulsively monitored.

Explore opportunities in large as well as small organizations. Good or bad times, large organizations never stop hiring. Typically, the hiring process is longer and more bureaucratic than it is in smaller companies. A well-run job-search campaign ought to include a cross-section of companies of all sizes.

Set aside a certain number of hours each day for job hunting. Many career consultants advise going at job-hunting eight hours a day. The number of hours isn’t as important as what’s accomplished during that period. Quality is more important than quantity. Many people can accomplish in five hours what others accomplish in eight. Based upon personal rhythms, set a productive work schedule and live by it.

Here are a few don’ts:

Don’t sell yourself short. A normal initial reaction to job loss is personal defeat. Even if you fall into that trap, get out of it fast.

Don’t badmouth previous employers or coworkers. It’s very tempting to be honest and tell prospective employers the real reasons for being laid off or fired. But this is not the place for honesty. Prospective employers are not interested. It’s bad form. If you’re leaving because you had a daemonic boss or had difficulty with co-workers, find a plausible positive reason for seeking greener pastures. An evergreen reason is greater advancement and training options – an opportunity to “move up the ladder and take on more responsibilities.” These are solid irrefutable reasons for changing jobs.

Build a proactive job-hunting strategy. Don’t wait for employers to contact you. Some will contact you, others will not. If certain people are important to you, take the initiative yourself.

Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.