Tag Archives: coping with job loss

12 steps to take to get back on track after losing a job

There’s a saying in the career development world: “You’re not in my club unless you’ve lost a job.” It’s not a kind saying, but it puts things into perspective. Many people have lost a job or two or even three. No one will ever say, “Losing a job is fun.”

To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to one’s self-esteem. Even if you were laid off because the company had to cut costs, you might think you failed.

If you were let go for lack of performance or you didn’t see eye-to-eye with your manager, this can be particularly devastating. You may feel that you’re incapable of returning to the productive employee you once were.

The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know, deep in your heart, were correct actions. But because they’re the boss, they hold the power.

No matter how you wrap your head around what happened, you can’t let go of what went wrong. You lose sight of what you did well. Negative thoughts swim around your mind.

With all of this said, there are steps to take to get back into the workforce. (These steps don’t necessarily follow in this order.)

1. Don’t deny your feelings

You might be experiencing one of the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance), or a few of them. Although associated with the loss of someone close to you, grieving over the loss of a job is common. Realize that this is natural and don’t deny the feelings you’re experiencing.

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation, wondering what you did wrong. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.

Being unable to concentrate on what’s going around you is natural. Your mind circles back to the fact that you’re out of work. You might have been told to hold it in. I believe this applies to only when you’re in public. When alone let it out, but not at the expense of loved ones. Don’t kick the family do I tell my clients.

When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.

2. Evaluate the situation and be able to explain why you’re out of work

Given three reasons why you are unemployed—you were laid off, let go, or quit—determine which it was and assess the situation. People who possess self-awareness are honest with themselves and with others.

The first reason—being laid off—is easiest to explain. One of my customers said, “I had no choice. The company could no longer afford my salary.”

While this is true, it would be best to go into a little more detail, such as, “We lost two major accounts that I was working on (as a software engineer). While my work was stellar, our customers decided to pull out.”

The second and third reasons—being let go, or quitting—are a bit harder to explain. These answers must be short while giving an honest description of the situation and, most importantly, explain what you’ve learned from the situation.

One way you might explain being let go is: “My boss and I agreed that I wasn’t a fit for the position, that I lacked some of the skills. I understand the requirements of this job and know I can excel in this position.”

3. Don’t sleep the day away

You might be halfway through your job search and feel like giving up the fight temporarily. Don’t do it. Stay the course. If you need motivation, have someone check in on you to see how you’re doing. These would be a good friends, so don’t begrudge them.

As difficult it may be, develop a routine. You don’t necessarily have to rise at 5:00 am so you can go to the gym before the workday. But getting up every morning at 6:00 am, taking a walk, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping until 10:00 am every morning.

You’ll feel much better if you are productive, not if you rise late and watch television. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health and finding a job. Another suggestion is to attend your local One-Stop career center for career-search help.

4. Take a hiatus

You’ve heard of the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is true, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve talked with job seekers who say they’ve taken a week off to regroup, to get their bearings.

While some might believe that you should begin the job search the day after you lost your job, I’m not one of them.

To get back on the horse immediately might be more detrimental than helpful, as your head will be swimming in negative thoughts of self-doubt. Or you might not have the energy you need to succeed. Proper mental health is required to be successful in your job search.

This said, don’t take a “vacation,” as some of my job seekers have. They figure summer is time to vacation, right? Wrong. The best time to look for work can be the summer when many employers have more time to entertain your request for an informational interview. Just recently our organization filled three positions.

5. Let people know you’re out of work

I tell job seekers there’s no shame in being out of work. And I’m sure they say under their breath, “What would you know?” Plenty. I’ve been out of work myself and came to find out that my feelings of self-doubt were wasted.

In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell aren’t limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances.

Don’t disregard people who live across the country or even the world. Social media allows us to hear of opportunities in various areas of the country. Your brother in New York or San Francisco might hear of position openings close to where you live.

It’s important that you tell people exactly what you’re looking for in terms of work.

6. Be willing to accept help

I find this to be one of the largest roadblocks for some people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help. There are two things to remember: one, your job search will be shorter if you have help.

Two, most people like to help those in need. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. Look at it this way, you’re helping others by asking for help. Psychologist assert that helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. I think most people reading this article enjoy helping others, seeing them succeed.

This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in your community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work (#5) should be enough. For safe measure, however, “ping” people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like, “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.

7. Take action to prepare

As hard as it might be, you will have to focus on four major areas in your job search. My valued connection, Erin Kennedy, outlines what job-search measures to take to update your job search and to begin moving forward. According to Erin these are steps you will take in the early phase of your job search:

Update your resume Does it convey your message and brand? Is it up-to-date with your current role? Are your most recent accomplishments listed?

Update your LinkedIn profile as well. Do you have a current photo? Have you utilized the new “featured” tool to display projects and achievements?

We are all going through this same challenging time so reach out to your contacts. Check in on them. Set up a Zoom meeting so you can chat face-to-face.

Better yet, invite others as well! This is a great time to deepen your relationships and create new ones. We need each other right now.

8. Update your written communication materials

You now have time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Ideally you added accomplishments you achieved while you were working, but it’s understandable if you hadn’t. Many people are guilty of this. Lesson learned.

Think about how you saved the organization costs, improved processes, increase revenue, enhanced communications; and try to quantify the positive results. If you can’t come up with the numbers, dollars, and percentages, don’t sweat it. This is also a great time to think about your greatness.

I find that many of my clients hadn’t used LinkedIn when they were working, but now they are using it like a fiend. Another lesson learned. Remember to focus on the three components: creating an optimized profile that brands you, developing a robust network, and engaging with your network.

9. Start networking

Oh no, not this again, you might be thinking. I’ll be the first to admit that networking is tough, especially after losing a job. But it’s the most successful way to find a job. The numbers prove it—more than half of positions are gained by networking. PayScale.com claims 70% of jobs are gained through networking.

While we’re slowly recovering from the pandemic, networking is still being conducted online, typically with Zoom. Many are looking forward to the day when they can network in person.

If you’re still getting over losing your job, put off networking or engage in it slowly. And if you were let go, there’s no rule saying you need to disclose it. Rarely will fellow networkers ask you the reason for your departure. But if they do, ignore the question or politely tell the person you’d rather not discuss. it.

10. Practice using video conferencing

To Erin’s third point, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be smart about interacting with others. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue to network. We might have to do it in smaller groups via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.

Using video conferencing and the phone will prepare you better for interviews you’ll have in the near future. This is how companies are conducting interviews today. So, the more prepared you are with the technology, the better you’ll perform.

You probably didn’t think it would come to the point where you’d be going through multiple phases of the interview process participating in video meetings, but this is today’s reality. At least for the time being.

11. Seek professional help

You’ll probably experience many feelings, including anger, fear, self-doubt, etc. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist.

This is not unusual, trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.

If it gets to the point where all you can think about is the past and present, and fail to see the future, this can be an indication of depression or stress. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage. Most insurance policies cover mental health services.

12. Consider your job search a blank slate

It’s hard for people who haven’t lost a job to understand how difficult being unemployed can be. The above are some simple suggestions to follow. Those who are in my club of people who have been unemployed at one point can be the best people to speak with. For some of us, it’s not our first rodeo. We have some sage advice to offer. Seek us out. We’re here to help.

Try these 5 activities before giving up on your job search

despondantThis post originally appeared in recruiter.com.

I’ve seen it all too often: people losing their motivation to find employment. They resign themselves to the fact that they’ll never obtain their ideal job. Instead, they’ll wait for it to come to them—if it ever does.

In short, they’ve given up.

Is this you? Have you given up hope? When I was out of work, I was on the precipice of losing hope, but I was very lucky to land a job weeks before my unemployment benefits expired. Thanks to a surge of energy, reaching out to the right people, and a little luck, I landed the job.

Are you conducting your job search the way you should? Are you doing all you can? If not, it’s time to get back to the basics.

Reach Out for Help

This is perhaps one of the hardest things a job seeker can do. They feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or that no one wants to help them. First of all, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Not asking for help is a sign of weakness. Let go of your pride.

Here’s the thing; people like helping others. Psychologists say that helping others gives people a sense of accomplishment and makes them feel empowered. Have you helped someone find a job? If you did, I bet it felt good.

How you ask for help makes a difference, so keep that in mind when reaching out. Don’t simply approach people if they know of any jobs for you. This puts them into an awkward situation.

Instead, work into the conversation that you’re out of work, what you do (be exact), and the type of work you’re looking for.

Listen to Those You Trust

You worked with some great colleagues and maybe some “not so great” colleagues. Recall the ones who were trustworthy, the ones who you could trust with confidential information. These are the people you want to connect with if you haven’t already.

Listen to their advice and determine whether it makes sense for you. If it doesn’t—for example, if they tell you to spend your entire search on the Internet—then listen politely, but disregard it.

You’re fortunate if you find a “wingman.” They’re people who offer sound advice and stick with you throughout your job search.

Don’t forget the people in your community. They can also be great sources help. They may hear of opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t. For example, your neighbor might work at one of your desired companies, and he might be willing to deliver you resume to the hiring manager in the software engineering department.

Shuck Off the Negative Nellies

It’s nice to have someone to occasionally commiserate with – someone with whom you can curse your former employer, talk about being bored, share your financial woes, etc.

A former colleague of mine and I did exactly this. We met once a week, maybe twice, at a local bar where we would “cry in our beer.”

This was great at first, but soon it got old and made me more depressed as time went on. So I broke ties with him. I was determined to surround myself with people who were positive, hoping their positivity would wear off on me.

Try Something Different

1. Develop a Plan: Now it’s time to develop a career action plan. The plan I’m speaking of should, ideally, cover your day-to-day – maybe even your hour-to-hour. Record it all on a spreadsheet. Without a solid plan, you’ll end up spinning your wheels.

2. Use Different Methods to Look for WorkNetworking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Supplement that with LinkedIn. Make follow-up calls. Even knock on companies’ doors, if possible. You’ll feel more productive if you employ a variety of methods – just don’t spread yourself thin. Four methods should be fine.

3. Take a Break: You are most likely riding a roller coaster ride of emotions. You need to take occasional breaks to regroup. Not too long, mind you – but long enough to regain your energy. Go on walks or to the gym. If the weather’s, nice sit on a bench and reflect on your plan.

4. Volunteer in Your Area of Work: Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use. Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones.

5. Get Job Search Assistance: Your local one-stop career center, an outplacement agency (if you were granted one by your employer), or an alumni association can all be sources of job search advice.

6. Join a Networking Group: Or, if you were networking and stopped, try it again. I’ve spoken with job seekers who have had unlucky experience with networking groups. Perhaps joining a smaller group of networkers who will offer support and job search advice is the way to go.

7. Seek Professional Help If Needed: Sometimes, the stress of being out of work is too much to handle on your own. You may feel anxious and even depressed. It’s important to realize this. Take advice from family and friends when applicable, and seek help from a therapist if need be. You may find talking with a non-judgmental third party refreshing.

Getting Back on Your Bicycle

You’ve fallen off your bicycle, figuratively speaking, so now it’s time for a surge of energy. Try as best you can to put the facts and figures behind you. Remember that you were and will continue to be a productive employee.

Photo: Flickr, Václav Soyka


6 ways to get through unemployment

At the request of a LinkedIn connection, I read a sobering Newsweek article called Dead Suit Walking and was transported back to when I was unemployed. All the negative feelings I experienced filled my head, but I also thought about what got me through six months of being out of work. Here are five suggestions for those of you are unemployed.

1. Know that you’re not the only one who’s out of work

Currently 5.0% of U.S citizens are listed as unemployed (US Bureau of Labor Statistics ); although, the percentage is certainly higher, given that those who no longer collect UI benefits are not counted.

As I sat through career search workshops during my months of unemployment, I was relieved to realize that other talented people were also unfortunate to have been laid off. In other words, you’re not the only one.

Now that I lead workshops at the same career center, some of my customers approach me to say they appreciate my emotional support…as well as my career advice. Sometimes I wonder which is most important to them.

2. Realize that feelings of despondency, inadequacy, and even depression are natural

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.

Note: If you feel your mood taking a serious nose dive, seek therapy.

The article states about the emotional impact: “It’s devastating. The extreme reaction is suicide, but before you get there, there’s irritability and anger, fatigue, loss of energy, withdrawal, drinking, more fights with their wives.”

3. It’s time to be proactive, not reactive

You’ve heard of the Hidden Job Market (HJM) and may choose to ignore that only 25% of all jobs are advertised. Based on how my customers have found employment, I’m here to tell you that it certainly exists. However, you will not penetrate it without networking and becoming a student of the labor market.

How will this help you with your downtrodden mood? When you are proactive and take your job search into you own hands, you’ll feel better about yourself.

4. Rely on family and friends to help you through the tough times

It is much better having that support to lean on than going it alone. The article looks at unemployment from a man’s point of view and discusses the feeling of inadequacy men feel when their wife has to go to (or back to) work.

Both men and woman have to push aside this hang-up and believe that they’re not in this alone. If you can’t find support in your immediate family, you must find it elsewhere, perhaps with friends, extended family, networking partners, etc. Most importantly, make it clear that your job search comes first; you are still working 40 hours a week, just in a different form.

5. Be good to yourself

Because you’re out of work doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the basics of life, a nice home-cooked meal, a movie rental, an occasional outing, get-togethers with friends.

I tell my customers that their new job is finding a job, but I warn them against burnout that can occur if they spend too much time looking for work and not enough enjoying the better parts of their life.

6. Get out of your house

Take a walk, go to the gym, or start home projects that will further increase your sense of accomplishment. Get away from the computer you’re sitting at for six hours a day. Some jobseekers tell me being out of work has encouraged them to walk…for the first time. Exercise is great for the mind and your emotions.

Develop a routine where you’re getting up every morning at the same time and leaving the house at the same time. Remember what it was like to have a routine when you worked? Losing that routine can take a toll on your emotions.

Being unemployed is a life-altering experience. It has been compared to losing a relative, going through a divorce, suffering through a serious illness, and other calamities. But keep in mind that while these traumatic events are permanent, being unemployed is temporary.

There is no easy way to get through unemployment, and those who say it has no impact on their psyche are either lying to you or themselves. In the words of one of the people interviewed for the Newsweek story, “It’s humbling.” When humility turns into despair, you must act and look forward to the small victories.

If this post helps you, please share it with others on LinkedIn or Twitter.