- Rely on your support system to help you cope with job loss-related stress, and to help you connect with new employment opportunities.
- Use the opportunity to learn new skills hone existing ones. It's time to rethink your career path and find out if it’s time to try something new.
This post was coauthored by Leya Aronoff, growth marketer at career design company Crew and Career + Communication Coach. This is based on her experience last year.
Losing your job can be a terribly stressful experience, and a blow to your ego. But it can also be a chance to explore opportunities, review your life, and expand your career horizons. Here are seven constructive steps that Leya used after being laid off last July:
- Try not to worry about finances. Although a sudden loss of income can be devastating, worrying about it can cause needless stress. Hopefully, you have some savings set aside, but, in any case, create a budget and stick to it. Unemployment benefits and any severance can help bridge between jobs. Remember: It’s much easier to make your career move when you’re not worried about money.
- Take a break. It takes time to process (and grieve) losing a job. Turn this into an opportunity to get away and visit friends or family. Engage in better self-care. Research from mass pandemic layoffs (Grandey, et al., 2021) suggests that although losing a job can have some negative psychological effects, these can be ameliorated through relaxation and better self-care, including finding activities that reduce stress (meditation, relaxation, enjoyable hobbies) and focusing on improved physical health (e.g., exercise). Use the opportunity to get psychologically healthy. Leya had a pre-planned family vacation and found it rejuvenating to take a break with people who loved her.
- Reach out to your support system. The stress of a layoff can be a blow to your self-esteem and cause you to question your competence. Reconnect with mentors, friends, and others who know you and who have seen you at your best. Your support system knows your good qualities, and will remind you that you have much to offer your next employer. Research suggests that a social support system can buffer the negative effects of worrying/rumination and feelings of rejection after a job loss (Asante, et al., 2022).
- Ruthlessly question what you want in your career. You have an abundance of time. Use the opportunity to reflect on your career, and what you really want. In Leya’s case, she thought she wanted to stay in internal communications. After some reflection, however, she realized that she wanted to try marketing, and it led her in a new career direction.
- Learn some new stuff. Take a course, read books, enroll in a boot camp—do anything that will build your skill set, because this is the time to do it. You can do a “skill set inventory” of those you had, and the new things you learned during the break.
- Apply for jobs, but don’t let it consume you. It’s easy to doom-scroll down job boards and throw resumes at everything. But, when it comes to applications, it should be quality over quantity. This is your opportunity to rethink your career trajectory. Only apply for jobs that are genuinely exciting to you. Remember, however, that applying online to job ads isn’t the only way to get a new job, and it may not even be the best way. For example, Leya only submitted about 30 applications, but she spent a lot more time on...:
- Network, network, network. Turn to your network of colleagues, friends, and family to find out about jobs and for them to introduce you to potential employers. Put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself at any potential networking event to make new connections. Make sure to follow up on each conversation and on any new job possibilities.
It is important to not dwell on the negatives associated with job loss, but to use it to motivate yourself and explore new career avenues.
Grandey, A. A., Sayre, G. M., & French, K. A. (2021). “A blessing and a curse”: Work loss during coronavirus lockdown on short-term health changes via threat and recovery.Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(4), 261–275. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000283
Asante, E. A., Oduro, F., Danquah, B., Dei Mensah, R., Dartey‐Baah, K., & Affum‐Osei, E. (2022). From being sacked to being unwell: A conservation of resources view on the effects of psychological contract violation on layoff victims' wellbeing. Human Resource Management Journal.