Written by Ralph Rosynek, as originally published in The Reverse Review.

You wake up one morning and catch the news, read an email or leave an afternoon staff meeting and suddenly, your focus has just changed. Joblessness can happen at any time, with little or no warning. Isn’t it ironic: Your focus and priorities (remaining in your home and maintaining financial stability) have just aligned with the customer base you serve!

Recent business decisions and industry changes affecting both the reverse mortgage space and mortgage lending in general have impacted quite a number of individuals, resulting in a significant forced employment movement of a large sector of the reverse mortgage production workforce.

About a year and a half ago, I too experienced joblessness. Interestingly enough, now that I have actively rejoined the reverse mortgage workforce, what started as a moment of reflection ended as a personal underwriting of that time frame in my life. For those of you just experiencing the joblessness effect, I thought I would share some “ability and willingness” perspectives that resulted from my underwriting experience of termination.

First and foremost, notice my denial of the exit and termination of my former employer’s participation in the reverse mortgage lending market (and the loss of my job!). I realize now, I took a much less dramatic approach to the reality of my situation by calling it something other than unemployment. Yes, I don’t think I ever said or admitted I was unemployed.

Was it my age, arrogance or fear that led me to believe my situation was a short-term, temporary state and soon I would be employed?

“Soon” slowly turned into weeks, and might have lasted longer. Yes, I “looked,” but what was I looking for and how was I looking? It wasn’t until I took a good look in the mirror that I realized I needed to do more to accelerate “soon” into “now.”

So, my first word of advice is to stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, and “look into a mirror” – the resolution to your unemployment is in your plan and completely within your control.

When was the last time you visited with your resume? Many of us have been with our employer for a number of years and somewhere on a storage disc or in a folder at the bottom of a drawer is the document that bespeaks our qualifications and achievements – the resume.

For most, keeping up your resume is not a priority or a Top 10 chore. Your resume is a key component of your plan to seek employment. Take a moment and do some advance work on this document before you merely add the job you just lost and blitz it to your entire contacts list. Presentation styles change; references, achievements, and most importantly your goal or vision statement need to be updated. Type “resume” into the Google search engine and spend some time looking through the various offerings and expertise that will spruce up the presentation of your skills and knowledge before you hit the streets.

Write an effective and brief (but descriptive) cover letter for your resume with a very positive ending – tell your reader or recipient you are the candidate they are looking for to enhance their team.

Network your resume and search on steroids. Since your last job search, new opportunities to communicate your availability have opened up; you have more contacts; and the market has grown despite your employer’s exit. More importantly, employers are embracing electronic communication channels in a much more aggressive form. Social networking and online job listings have replaced the old days of newspaper want ads and snail mail resume delivery. Phone calling is still effective, but technology is becoming a preferred method of communication.

Have you ever considered a headhunter? Utilizing the services of a recruiter can expand your networking circle considerably; increase your access to a wider range of potential employers; and provide you with needed feedback as to your suitability, skills and knowledge matching to available positions.

You will notice I haven’t mentioned the formalization of a plan other than working on your resume and networking. Drawing a box and looking for a specific fit is a very limiting and perhaps dangerous activity in the early stages of job searching. Yes, you should know your basic needs, abilities, likes and dislikes, however, be flexible and open-minded.

As opportunities arise, you may be presented with a unique or unusual interview opportunity; not exactly what you were just doing. Many employers and job recruiters seek individuals who have core knowledge and skills as a basic requirement and look to the interview process to discover a heavy overlay of ability to be creative, innovative and “re-trainable” as very desirable attributes for a new employee.

Lastly, you have reworked your resume, network and contacts; don’t forget to rework yourself and your appearance.

Drop the attitude, fear and disbelief. How many times have you been told to draw two boxes to identify problems and resolutions? Seems stupid, but actually this is a very therapeutic activity when it comes to improving yourself. List all of your job fears, negative thoughts, and shoulder chips that you are feeling or experiencing in the first box. You know these are going to hamper your job search. In the second box list those qualities, attitudes and positive plusses you bring to a new job. Post your list by the phone (or better yet the refrigerator – eating and gaining weight isn’t a good idea at this point!) and clean up the first box as quickly as possible, unless you would rather get another unemployment check than a paycheck.

Now, go look in the mirror one more time. Is this the way you looked on the second to the last day of your last job? Would you hire the person in the mirror? If you are not positive about what you see, I know funds may be tight, but take some time and update yourself. Very few employees are hired solely on looks, but there is a visual component to our decision-making process. Do you need a new hairstyle, makeup, wardrobe or shoes (yes, shoes do say something)? Be honest. Sometimes, a slight change in appearance, a new suit or new shoes adds just the right amount of “extra” to you and your resume to complete the package.

To those of you in the job market, I feel your pain, have recently walked in your shoes and wish you speedy success in finding a new job. I can tell you it does happen, and the process, while unsettling at times, is part of your ongoing character build. A personal note to Marc Helm at Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc., and to his partner Bob Yeary, whose advice (“There are very few positions available for ex-Presidents and CEOs”) was followed by the jointly offered opportunity to work for RMS as the Vice President of National Correspondent Production: my sincerest thanks.