Yes, You Can Bounce Back After Losing Your Job. Here’s How.
You won't be stuck on the couch with a carton of ice cream forever.
Give yourself time
Suddenly finding yourself unemployed from a layoff or because you missed the signs you might get fired can leave you sad and angry—not the best mindset when trying to make a good impression to potential employers—so don’t force yourself into the job hunt immediately. As long as you have the financial stability, taking time off to get through those emotions will help you cope, says business coach Susie Moore, author of What if it DOES Work Out? After all, there are benefits to crying. “Sometimes you need a bit of time to absorb the change, allow yourself to feel emotional, feel down,” she says. “Allow yourself a couple weeks to chill and be home and have a quality period to refuel and recharge.” To avoid the temptation to wallow on the couch for months, give yourself a deadline, she says. When that date hits, force yourself out of your funk whether you want to or not.
Realize you’re not alone
Layoffs are purely about saving money for the business—they have nothing to do with your abilities, and there’s nothing embarrassing about getting laid off. “Losing your job is very, very common—now more than ever,” says Moore. “It’s important not to take it personally.” When you’re coping with job loss, that you aren’t alone, and it won’t reflect badly on you moving forward in your career.
Don’t start doubting yourself
Turn off that little voice in your head telling you that you could have done anything to avoid being part of the job cuts, or that you won’t be able to land a new position, says career coach Nicole Hill Orisich, founder of Get Unstuck NYC, which specializes in working with young professionals in the NYC area. During the job hunt, Hill Orisich asks her clients if they think they have what it takes. “Regardless of that … compromised level of confidence or self-esteem, usually when that question is positioned, I’m met with an ‘absolutely yes, no doubt,’” she says. “Once they hear themselves respond in that way, it’s like the sun rises a little bit.”
See it as an opportunity
When you first find out you’ve lost your job, it sounds like just that—you’ve lost something. The truth is, though, being forced to look for a new position can actually help you gain a huge opportunity. Since you need to find a new job anyway, now is the perfect time to consider switching career paths, says Hill Orisich. “A layoff is your golden ticket to now go do what you need to do,” she says. “A lot of times for people I’ve worked with, the knee-jerk reaction is to lose the job and then find the same exact job. If the job they’ve lost is one they actually didn’t like, then going to find the same job would be insane.” A career change could make you happier than ever.
Figure out what you do want
Now that you’re thinking about new job options, how you can use your skills in a way you enjoy more than before. Think about the things you won’t miss from your last job, like the tasks that frustrated or bored you. Now balance that against your favorite parts of work—the projects you were good at and passionate about, says Moore. “Identify what makes you feel awake and how you can find that in a new role,” she says. In a job interview, don’t be embarrassed that you’re new to the industry. Stress the fact that you’ve got the skills you need and are excited to use them in this new field—employers love that kind of passion. Learn the most important job perk to look for in your new position.
Tap into your network
As soon as you know what you want from a new job, hit up contacts in your field. Not only can they fill you in on job openings, but they can give you a leg up when you apply. “It’s people who make hiring decisions—not businesses,” says Moore. “It’s time to connect with the people who know you, who believe in you.” Get in touch with as many people as possible to up your chances of landing a new position even faster. Even if you haven’t been laid off, it’s a good idea to be aware of open jobs that might interest you, says Moore. Learn tricks for looking for a new position when you still have a job.
Perfect that networking email
When you do reach out to your connections after a layoff, be very clear about what you’re looking for. Don’t just send your resume and ask what’s open. Remind the other person what you were doing before the layoff, then explain what you want from your next position. “You don’t want to put the responsibility on people to figure it out,” says Hill Orisich. “Make it very easy for them to forward the email along and not have to craft a whole new email.” The easier it is for them, the more likely they’ll be to follow through. Learn how to network without feeling awkward.
Pick up freelance work
Until (and maybe even after) you find a new full-time job, use your skills for gig work. You could do freelance projects similar to your old job, set up an Airbnb, or sell handmade work on Etsy. “You don’t have to be a full-time entrepreneur. You work at your time, in your own control,” says Moore. “Not only does it make you more interesting to employers, but it puts you at less need of one person to hire you. You’re saying ‘yes’ to yourself every day.” With your own revenue stream, you can stress less about finding a new job as quickly as possible. Plus, even unpaid work like volunteering, blogging, or learning photography could give you great talking points during an interview if you need to explain a resume gap, says Hill Orisich.