I’ve Lost My Job, Now What? Surviving Unemployment

I’ve Lost My Job, Now What?After the emotional thunderbolt of being told We don’t need you anymore, by the company you’ve devoted months or years of your life to, it is normal to feel upset, confused and angry. But there’s no time to waste on thoughts of revenge or remorse.

Thinking strategically from the moment you hear the news of your unemployment will help you find your way to a new job and keep your spirits high.

WHAT TO DO THE DAY YOU’RE LAID OFF

  • Your first reaction after hearing you’ve been fired may be to cry or make a scene. Resist the temptation by taking a deep breath and going for a walk instead. Ground yourself by going somewhere such as a garden or a street market, or listen to your favorite music on your iPod.

  • When you calm down, check for contractual restraints and, if appropriate, get in touch with your top clients, explaining to them that you’re leaving and hope you’ll work with them again. It’s honest, respectful and subtly says, I’m on the market.

  • Avoid venting with your colleagues or giving your boss a piece of your mind. You never know whether you’ll find yourself working with them again in the future. Instead, call your partner or your best friend and schedule an urgent téte-a-téte for that same night. It will be a safe space for you to release your emotions by cursing, crying and even laughing at your predicament. 

Read Related: How to Nail Your Next Job Interview

WHAT TO DO THE DAY AFTER YOU’RE LAID OFF

  • Try to keep your cool. There’s no need to rush, everything goes wrong when we do it in a hurry and out of fear or despair. Sit down with a cup of coffee and check your finances so you can judge how much breathing space you have to consider your options.

  • If you can afford it, take a short vacation to get away and regain perspective. It doesn’t have to be a fancy or exotic destination. Maybe all you need is a quiet cabin to rest and enjoy nature for a couple of days. Then you will feel stronger and more relaxed. If you can’t afford a break, then pamper yourself: take naps, go get a massage, walk in the park or do whatever makes you feel good.

WHAT TO DO THE WEEK AFTER YOU’RE LAID OFF

  • Make a list of your top ten career achievements. Seeing your talents listed on paper gives you a mental pick-me-up, making job hunting seems less daunting. Plus, this is an invaluable opportunity to reflect on your career: Are you happy with it? What do you really want to do now? If you hadn’t been fired or laid off, you may not have had this chance to reappraise your professional life.

  • Once you are clear about it, update your CV or resume. Remove everything redundant or unessential and add specific details and figures, as employers now want you to quantify everything. So, if you improved sales, by how much? If you implemented a productivity system, how many hours were saved?

  • Add “Seeking New Position” to your LinkedIn status, and within seconds you’ll be visible to the market. Add a good-quality photograph of yourself, as employers like to put a face to a name. Remember to update your status by 8 or 9am. If employers check it once a day, it will be at 9am.

  • List 100 contacts and for each one think, How can I help them to help me? Networking is about applying the principles Praise, Ask, Give: compliment them, ask for help, offer them something in exchange. 

WHAT TO DO THE MONTH AFTER YOU’RE LAID OFF

  • Follow the HR managers of your target companies on Twitter. It’s often the first way to hear about new jobs. Friend them on Facebook too. Let them hear your name and be familiar with who you are.

  • Don’t just stand there. Write a blog, make comments on forums or the Facebook profiles of the companies you’re interested in, create your own website, attend workshops, conferences and anything inspiring. At this point, it is important to avoid isolation and self pity. Keep the sulking for family and friends and, even then, stop moaning and get moving after a week or two.

  • Contact firms you’d like to work with and arrange a meeting. One meet-up a week keeps morale high and allows you to talk about constructive ways you’ve used your time off (I was able to re-evaluate my skills, I faced the recession by doing this or that). Always talk positively about your ex-company in front of your potential employers.

  • When you ask for help, don’t feel guilty or fearful of being bothersome. You should not beg or talk to the other person about your fear of not finding another job. Before contacting anyone, rehearse the conversation until you find an assertive tone that is both firm and polite. Use psychology to your advantage! Research shows people are most flexible at around 3pm, so try to make your inquiries around then. Also, think about calling on a stress-free Thursday, rather than a harried, hated Monday.

Above all, stay positive about the chapter ahead of you. Times are tough for everyone, it’s true, but a positive attitude will keep desperation at bay and allow you to grow and thrive, ending up happier than you ever were at your former job!