The most stressful time in anyone’s life is hearing you are unemployed. These are the actions I am taking to lower my stress and be more productive in my job search.

In late May, several colleagues and I discussed our success at work as specialty sales consultants with the pain division of a health company. We agreed our success equals employment. However, corporate problems from 2012 could not be solved and we were all given our layoff notice. The good news: I always kept my savings and spending in check. The bad news: I was now one more number among the long line of unemployed.

I put into action a 30-60-90 day plan to find employment. In the first 30 days I updated my resumé and cover letter to reflect what was important to me and a future employer to start a job search. It was suggested I register on major job search engine sights: i.e. LinkedIn, Indeed, Medreps and network healthcare related groups nationwide.

Sixty days: I will be preparing to improve in a job skill to increase my value. Computer skills are important and public speaking is key in a sales position.

Ninety days: I plan to bring the process together and repeat from day one.

My company invested in a career management firm to help create a career path.  As I sat in the room with 15 other unemployed people, I was shocked to find people 40- to 60-years-old with no idea for future plans. Most were from the high tech industry with no updated resumé and fearful of public speaking and the interview process.

I had software skills, an updated resumé  and felt comfortable in the face-to-face interview. The career coach recommended I take all employment past 15 years off my resumé. A friend told me to revise my entire resumé  and hide my most recent pharmaceutical experience. I revised my resumé to one page and used key words to reflect my skills to gain attention. During my first interview in 15 years, I was asked what my first job was in healthcare and relate it to the position I was interviewing for. I was also asked if I had documented records and or examples of prior work. Creative marketing separates the common from the uncommon and from the competition. Public speaking skills will be tested in the interview process. Risk taking is part of marketing and sales.  Most people play it safe during interviews, and in reality that is the time to let the true you shine.

Sixty day plan: Network,network, network.

I plan to volunteer for any organization that share my goals, values, and passion.  The Red Cross and NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) came to mind. My career in healthcare is strong and my clinical experience and sales achievements can bring value to a healthcare company. The goal is to meet people in a chosen career industry everyday and keeping your mind active in current events.

Networking face-to-face is the key to keeping any name alive in the competitive world of who do you know. I also recommend adding job skills every few months. Computer programs, presentation skills, and technical schools add value in the competitive landscape and “experience preferred” is often listed on job web sites in a job description. Start subscribing to publications of your interest and look up the names of the authors of articles on LinkedIn. I had a phone interview and was told the name of the next person who would meet with me. I looked up his name on LinkedIn and discovered we had a lot in common. Do your homework through industry publications.

Ninety day plan: To bring it all together: Continue meeting in groups to keep your name in conversation. Volunteer weekly to maintain a face to face recognition, update resume with education, and continue the interview preparation.

Those that are interviewing you, are the least likely to use the skills of the job they are interviewing for. For example, I interviewed for a position many years ago, and at the end of the interview I gave the two managers a flash drive to keep me in their memory. One manager loved the concept and was the active manager for the area. The other did not like the idea, and was the decision maker. I was not hired because “they were not looking for a circus act.” Ten years later the manager who liked the flash drive idea joined the company I was with and managed me successfully for two years. It was not my presentation skills in the interview being tested, it was my personality. In my opinion, they lost out on a great employee.

What makes this article so interesting is to compare my last three jobs over 15 years. My first exposure to employment in the Pacific Northwest was to have my resumé  sent to a district manager in a pharmaceutical company in Oregon who had never met me. He was asked to hire me “sight unseen” and my success was region wide.  Several years passed, and a new company was in development and a marketing manager was needed with memorable presentation style. The district manager was impressed with my portfolio; this was the beginning of a six year success story.  The company was bought, and a manager from years previous called me with another opportunity. Another five years has gone by. ending in success.  All the interview preparation means nothing when you are up against hundreds of applicants, and don’t know what the interviewing manager is looking for. It was, is, and will always be a risk taking presentation and often it comes down to who you know.

(Allen Prell lives in Keizer.)