What to do when you lose a job

Losing a job is a very difficult thing. All sorts of emotions can go through a person ranging from anger, shame, hurt, embarrassment, shock, depression and fear. Below are five suggestions to follow if you find yourself out of work.

1.  Don’t panic. An unexpected job loss ranks as one of the most stressful life events, usually only trailing the death of a loved one or divorce. Unlike the other two though, career transition is only temporary, even if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. If you have the desire to work again, then the chances are very good that you’ll find another opportunity, and probably a lot sooner than you think too. I have found though that people who don’t have a desire to change fields or locations start to immediately look at jobs out of their desired area, and in professions outside of their current skill sets, gifts, and abilities. While it is perfectly fine to be flexible, there is no need to panic and try to become someone you’re not or were never meant to be.

2.  Don’t delay. Too many times I’ve seen people take far too lengthy of breaks after losing a job. While it is understandable to allow yourself a little time to look back and process things, it is even more important to start moving forward. I meet people all the time that become too consumed with home projects, vacations, watching children, etc. All of these things are good activities, but not when they become barriers to finding your next opportunity. Often I meet people who are near the end of a severance or their unemployment benefits before they start to get truly serious. Finding a job really is a full-time job in itself, and needs to be made a priority throughout the process.

3.  Don’t isolate yourself from others. Many would prefer not to tell everyone they know when they lose a job, and instead let everyone know once they’ve found their next opportunity. But the irony is that you probably won’t find your next job unless you tell everyone you know. Employment is meant to be a team sport, not a solo act. Most people get jobs through personal connections since it is the preferred method of employers. It is also important to get support from others while you’re searching to help you deal with your emotions in a healthy manner. While certainly not everyone you know may be understanding or helpful, you will find that most people are very willing to assist. By involving others, you’ll also make many new friends along the way, as well as strengthen existing bonds with those you already knew.

4.  Don’t get in a rut.  The hardest way to get a job is by simply applying blindly to online ads. Previously I wrote about where to network as a way to help people consider other places besides online ads. Too often people go into the job search with one fishing pole and fish in one spot. Instead I’d recommend carrying many fishing poles and try fishing in lots of different holes to increase your chances of finding more opportunities. Relationships are the key, and you should be always making new ones while keeping in touch with your existing contacts.

5.  Don’t give up. Overcoming adversity in a positive way always make us stronger. While it isn’t enjoyable, I don’t think it is the worst thing for everyone to experience a job loss at least once in their life. It will forever change you, and probably for the better. You’ll gain a better sense of empathy for others and might even be able to pay forward someday the help you once needed and received.

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