7 Steps to Take After Losing Your Job

By Hannah Morgan

IF YOU'RE THINKING "I've lost my job, now what?", you aren't alone. The reality is that almost everyone you know has lost a job once in life, maybe more.

Let's look at this logically. Was the organization in financial trouble? If so, it had to cut overhead. Did your company merge with another one? It probably didn't need two people doing the same function. If you got a new boss, she probably wanted to hire an employee she knows or selected. And maybe, just maybe, you didn't really love your job anyway.

Losing your job doesn't mean you aren't valuable. There are lots of employers looking to hire someone like you. But instead of telling everyone "I lost my job" and updating your resume, start your job search by reflecting and soul searching. Determine what it is you really enjoy doing and what's most important to you at this point in your life. Do not dwell on the past or look back at the unfairness of the layoff. Focus on the things you can control.

When you're not sure what to do when you lose your job, these seven steps will get you going in the right direction.

What To Do When You Lose Your Job

· Make lists of job successes, career contacts and future employers.

· Add structure to your week.

· Tell everyone you know what you're looking for in a new job.

· Acquire information.

· Stay organized.

· Develop a backup plan.

· Pace yourself.

Make three lists.

Your first list is to help you become clear on what you are good at and enjoy doing. Identify 25 achievements, accomplishments or tasks you enjoyed doing on the job. Did you ever improve a process or make recommendations that were implemented? Did you ever get a "thank you" message from a happy customer? Go back through your performance reviews to make sure you don't leave out anything.

Next, list 100 people you know. Include everyone: your co-workers, clients, customers, suppliers, vendors, hairdresser, dentist, neighbors, family and friends. Go through your LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends and people you follow on Instagram. It shouldn't be hard to create this list. Consider it a brainstorming exercise that you can prioritize later.

Now you are ready to identify 50 organizations for which you think you might like to work. These organizations do not need to have jobs posted. The only thing that matters at this point is that you think you may want to work for them.

With your three lists, you can now begin doing research. Who do you know who works in those 50 organizations? Are any of those 50 companies hiring? Do they need your skills?

Add structure to your week.

One of the best ways to overcome the loss of a job is to create a new daily routine. Your job search needs structure and allocating 30 hours a week is what it will take to land a new job. So set your alarm, take a shower and get your day started, like you were going to your job.

Allocate blocks of time for specific job search activities each day of the week. This should include networking events, meeting one-on-one with people, occasionally volunteering, investing in formal or informal training and some "you" time to re-energize and indulge in your favorite hobbies or activities.

One last reminder: Do not spend all your time online! Online applications account for a small portion of filled jobs. Get out of your house and meet people. Your weekly job search plan should consist of outreach efforts ranging from networking requests to talking with recruiting agencies.

Tell everyone specifically what you are looking for.

Instead of telling everyone "I lost my job," talk about your skills and unique qualifications. This requires you to master your short, conversational pitch. Practice saying it out loud to avoid sounding like you are reading the summary on your resume. Also share the names of companies you are pursuing.

It may sound something like this:

"It's great to catch up with you again. As you may have heard, I'm exploring new opportunities in project management that allow me to use my PMI certification and experience in the health care industry to streamline the processes used in smaller doctors' offices or clinical settings. Do you happen to know anyone at ABC Pediatrics?"

Acquire information.

Your quest for a new job is really about acquiring information and the best way to do this is by talking with people. You know how things worked at your last company, but you may not know how other companies function. The type of information you are seeking includes names of people who work inside companies you are interested in and whether the organization's culture will match what you are looking for. You also want to understand what skills companies value and what the going rate is for the types of roles you are interested in.

Never assume you know the answers to questions. The more you learn, the smarter you will be at presenting your qualifications to future employers.

Juggle multiple balls but stay organized.

Pursue every lead and referral you are presented with, even if you don't think they sound right. You never know what will happen. Following up on referrals and leads requires a system for tracking names and dates to keep yourself organized. The best time to build this is at the beginning of your job search. You'll use it to keep track of networking conversations, jobs you apply for and interviews.

Develop a solid backup plan.

Everyone needs a backup plan, just in case. What will you do to generate an income when your unemployment support runs out?

If you may be open to relocation, the best time to start searching is today. Actively pursue and interview for jobs outside your city, and if offered a job, then you'll have a choice to make. It may be better than no job at all.

When you have a backup plan, it provides peace of mind and lets you focus on the task at hand.

Pace yourself.

Your job search will take longer than you want. Pace yourself as you would if you were running a marathon. Maintain a healthy balance of eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising your body and mind. A little self-care will ensure you make it across the finish line.

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