In my career workshops, I have attendees introduce themselves and tell the group what they do professionally as one way to begin networking. Attendees who have been in my prior workshops smile, because they know what is coming. And they are ready to help our new members.
People new to my workshops often respond to my request by giving their name followed by "and I'm unemployed." In my workshops, identifying as "unemployed" is not allowed. Why? It's important to remember that unemployed is not who you are, it's a situation you are working through. How you think about yourself is important - particularly if you are experiencing a lay-off. It's very tough to move forward when you are identifying as "unemployed."
One of the most challenging aspects of this situation is explaining "what you do" to to people you meet. I encourage folks going through this process to reframe their thinking. Are you unemployed, or are you going through a career transition? Words matter. My attendees are encouraged to consider instead that they are a professional of value in the midst of a career transition, prepared to become the solution to a company's problem.
Companies are attempting to fill open positions with someone who has your talents - you will be the solution to the problem a company is currently experiencing.
When my workshop attendees give it another try, they are encouraged by me and the group to respond with a statement along the lines of, "I'm a Project Manager, currently in a career transition. While I miss my old job, I'm excited about the new possibilities ahead of me" or "I've been serving customers for many years. I'm looking for a new opportunity where I can bring my client relationship skills to a new company." Even the expression on their faces change as they practice this new way of phrasing - they are remembering who they are and all that they have to offer.
When seeking a new position, it's important to remember your value, your talents and all that you have brought to the table throughout your career.
When you discuss your career in this way, people are very likely to respond in kind. I've found that most folks are very willing to help get someone connected to an opportunity when the energy is positive and the person is enthusiastic about their career.
One last point - you may have lost a job due to a company acquisition or down-sizing, but you retain your talents and experience. Reflect your value through your networking, personal branding, LinkedIn profile and your resume. Be confident in your past accomplishments as you move forward into your new career.