Losing your job is hard, no matter the circumstances. When you're part of a layoff, your bank account isn't the only thing that takes a hit. So does your self-esteem.
Being laid off is probably one of the most professionally traumatic experiences you'll ever have in your career. Within a day, you lose part of your identity—arguably the most important part.
When you have a job, you have a purpose. You have a reason to get up in the morning. You're "needed." So what happens when all that goes away? The things that so clearly defined you before are now gone. Who are you as a professional? Are you really as valuable of an employee as you thought? If you're not needed at this company, will you be needed, wanted, somewhere else?
It's completely normal to grieve the loss of your job when you get laid off. But as difficult as losing your job may seem right now, it can lead to something positive. This so-called "bad career experience" could very well bring you a better opportunity and give you a fresh start.
Here are seven tips to help you deal with being laid off:
1. Take A Break & Reflect
Give yourself a few days to process the layoff. You need time and space to go through the five stages of grief. This is an opportunity for you to take a break and reflect on your career. Ask yourself some questions. Think about your career goals. Remember what you have already accomplished.
Don't rush into the job market the day after you've been laid off, and don't make any big decisions in that first week of unemployment. Use this as a sign that you should relax and take a deep breath.
2. Do A Financial Assessment
Money is always a huge stressor for those who get laid off. To keep your anxiety and stress under control, do a financial assessment as soon as possible.
Figure out how long you have to look for a job before the money runs out and give yourself enough time to do so. Look at what you spend money on. How can you cut back?
3. Talk It Out With Someone You Love
After being laid off, you'll likely feel angry, resentful, sad, and maybe even depressed. These feelings could be amplified if you really loved your job and the company that you worked for. When you move past the denial stage, make sure you talk everything out with a loved one.
When you're at your lowest point, family and friends will remind you of your strengths, accomplishments, and dreams. They'll validate your feelings and remind you to be grateful for all that you have. Get that negativity out of your system before you meet any recruiters. They will sense your bitterness, and it won't reflect well on you.
Surround yourself with positive people and be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up about what's happened, and make sure you're eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
4. Prepare Your Story
If you've been part of a big layoff that is all over the news, it is easier to explain why you got laid off. But otherwise, you will have to explain to prospective employers what happened.
A short, positive, and concise story is best. Perhaps your department was restructured or your job was moved to a different location. Take ownership and explain what you learned from the experience. Make sure your story will be backed up by your manager or any other references your future employer might want to contact.
5. Explore Opportunities
Before you contact your network or send out any applications, make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are updated. Then, you can reach out to former colleagues, friends, or any other connections who work for organizations that interest you.
Create an interview bucket list. Conduct some informational interviews if you're looking to work in a different industry or make a career change. Depending on what you do and your location, you might want to start looking at contract/temp/interim work in the meantime.
6. Keep The Momentum Going
Make sure you tailor your resume to specific jobs to maximize your chances of getting hired. Write compelling disruptive cover letters. Network your way around the ATS. But most of all, don't stop your job search activities, even if you're in the advanced interviewing stages with one company. You may think you're a shoo-in for a position, but anything can happen.
7. Stay Positive
It is easy to feel sorry for yourself when you've lost a job. You might have regrets about not saving more money, not looking for a job earlier, or not doing enough to keep your job in the first place. However, this negative self-talk will only hold you back in your career and prevent you from getting back on your feet.
Make a conscious effort to stay positive. Surround yourself with positive people and think of the obstacles you've dealt with in the past and what you've achieved. Build your confidence, and potential employers will take note.
We hope these tips help you deal with being laid off in a positive and productive way. You can and will overcome this career setback. We think you'll find it isn't really a setback after all...
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.