In January of 2023, Heather Balcerek, CPTM, was laid off from Amazon. This article shares the information Heather wished she would have known at the start of the job search journey.

Date: January 18, 2023, 11 a.m. ET

My Outlook dings with new emails, but I’m focused on another task. My cell phone rings and it’s my direct report. I think, “Weird, why didn’t she just start a huddle?” I answer and immediately know something is wrong. Through the tears and fears she says, “Heather, I just got an email that my role has been eliminated.” My first response is, “This must be a mistake. Let me check mine.” And there it was…the same email. My role had been eliminated, too.”

According to, over 200,000 people — as of the beginning of 2023 — working for tech companies have a similar story. Each person is embarking on a new journey to find their next job. But how do you start when it feels like you’re lost in the forest with no clear path?

This article will introduce you to three key steps you can take (along with four scenarios that utilize each) to prepare you to navigate the journey. They can help you reset and restart so you can move forward on your career journey.

Preparing for a new job search starts before even looking at your resume and LinkedIn profile.

One of the first things people do after a layoff is grab their resume, quickly update it and start applying. This is normal because the clock is ticking. They need a new job, and they need it now. However, this approach can lead to rejection emails or interviews for roles that aren’t what they want.

Use these three steps to start, or restart, your job search with greater intention:

Step 1: Prepare Mentally

  1. After a layoff, allow yourself to go through the steps of the grieving process.
  2. Accept that you may need help along the way, so you can ask for help when needed and take help when it’s offered.
  3. Acknowledge that this journey can be hard, but you’re strong enough to make it through.

Step 2: Prepare Physically

Answer the following questions:

    • What skills are you most confident in?
    • What skills do you need to improve or gain?
    • What type of role are you looking for? Are you staying in the type of role/industry or considering something different?
    • What type of work culture and leader do you thrive under?
    • What are your values?

Step 3: Prepare Systems

Trackers, tracker, trackers — set up the following spreadsheets to help you track your job application progress/status:

    • Roles you applied to with a link to the role, salary information and a copy of the job description.
    • Examples to use during interviews. Use one of the following methods to tell the story:
      • STAR: Situation Task Action Result
      • SOAR: Situation Opportunity Action Result
      • CAR: Challenge Action Result
    • Company/interview notes: Research the company, its values and reviews. Write out your “Tell me about yourself” answer.
    • Not into making trackers yourself? There are tools out there to help, like Teal.

Prepare your patience as you start the job search.

Now, it’s time to start searching for a new role. This part is daunting, exhausting and generally the hardest. The same three steps we outlined above can help support you during your job search.

Step 1: Prepare Mentally

  • Think about how you will keep a focused mind when you receive rejections or no response at all. Identify a meditation, breathing exercise or activity you can do to bring your mind back to the center.
  • Remember: As much as you want your job search to be a sprint, it might be a 10K, a marathon or even a 100 miler.

Step 2: Prepare Physically

  • Clean a space or your office to do this work from. It is the designated area for all things job search.
  • Prepare your resume. Preparing your resume is never the easiest part of a job search, and you will need to adjust it you start applying for roles. Here are a few tips to help you start the process:
  • Make sure your email address is appropriate.
  • Start with a summary that covers your years of experience with the skills you bring.
  • Have a section of 3-5 career highlights. No need to call out details or company information here. Stick to the results. If you can’t figure out what to add, review your STAR stories.
  • Skills and areas of expertise come next. These should be specific skills or competencies (as a training manager, there’s no need to highlight basic skills like proficiency in Microsoft Office, Zoom, Slack, etc.).
  • Job experience is likely the longest part of your resume and typically the hardest to outline. The bullet points you create should follow the CAR (challenge, action, result) format. What’s key is to show your results versus listing out various job duties.
  • Unless you are a student looking for an internship or about to graduate from college, your education should listed at the end. Remove any dates, your GPA and college location. Add any certifications here as well.

Step 3: Prepare Systems

  • Identify the job boards you want to use and set up saved searches so you can receive alerts.
  • Set a schedule and include breaks. Hours of looking at job postings and applying can be draining.

Preparing for your success before day one.

After putting in the time to apply for jobs and interviewing, you finally have a job offer. (Cue the confetti!) Getting ready to transition back into the workplace can be a challenge after being laid off. These steps can help you prepare:

Step 1: Prepare Mentally

  • Whether the job search took a month or a year, you still have feelings about the past role and how it ended. Identify ways to help you navigate those feelings as you are preparing to start your new job.
  • Think about how you feel about starting this new job. Are you nervous, scared or excited? All these (and more) are completely normal emotions to have.

Step 2: Prepare Physically

  • If you are working remotely, make sure your space is ready to go. Confirm with your recruiter or hiring manager that your equipment will arrive on time.
  • If you are working in a physical office, map out the commute and check the traffic patterns to ensure you arrive on time.
  • You will likely have meet and greets with your new team. Prepare an “introduce yourself” speech. Now you won’t have to figure out what to say in that awkward moment. Talk about a confidence booster!
  • If possible, get a first day schedule from the hiring manager so you know what to expect.

Step 3: Prepare Systems

  • Starting a new role can be overwhelming. Decide how you will take notes and stay organized.
  • If you have to learn new programs or technologies, make sure you have a plan to speed up your learning curve. Watch some educational videos before day one and consider researching the programs or asking your network for tips.

Preparing your confidence for your first day and week.

The day has come, and you are starting your new role. The first week can feel overwhelming as you’re not only adjusting to a new role, but also a new team and company. Use the three steps to navigate your first day and week on the job:

Step 1: Prepare Mentally

  • Likely, you will have imposter syndrome. You will have the thoughts of “I can’t do this” or “Why did they hire me?” This is 100% normal. Remind yourself that the organization chose you. They saw something in you that was fit for the role and the team.
  • Things will go wrong. Your equipment might be delayed or access to a system didn’t get done on time. No matter how well prepared all sides are, there will probably be something that doesn’t go as planned. Just breathe. It’s going to be ok.
  • You will repeat yourself a lot. Having the prepared introduction will make you feel more confident and comfortable.
  • You will have questions, and that’s OK. Some questions may feel odd to ask, like “Do we have a specific writing style I need to follow?” (This was one I asked, because it was important in my previous role.) Write your questions down so you can go through them with your manager, onboarding buddy or peers.

Step 2: Prepare Physically

  • Revisit the “introduce yourself” speech. Add or change things as you get comfortable and have some fun facts or unique traits listed.
  • Prepare a few standard questions to ask during a meet and greet. Ask your manager for any specifics they would like you to cover in those meetings.

Step 3: Prepare Systems

  • Some companies have a great onboarding system that walks you through everything. Others might not have any official onboarding. Either way, write out a list of items you think you will need to know to get started quickly.
  • Set a 30/60/90-day goal plan with your manager. These benchmarks will help you set the right priorities as you start your new role.
  • Ask for a meeting schedule and any team or group chat channels you need to be added to. This might be a significant question to ask during a meet and greet with your teammates, too.

These four scenarios are based on my recent experience of being laid off and how I used the three steps during my job search. By sharing these steps, the intention is help you prepare for your search. Researchers Jukka Vulori and Salla Toppinen-Tanner wrote, “Preparedness means confidence in one’s own career management skills, motivation for managing one’s career and both emotional and knowledge-wise readiness to deal with the setbacks that one may encounter during the career management process.”

I hope these steps help you prepare and successfully navigate your journey into your next role as a learning leader.