During the recession of 2008, I was unexpectedly laid off. My brother told me “If you can survive this, you’ll have some stories to tell”. Although I was terrified, I did indeed survive a job loss….here’s how:
Acknowledge that Getting Laid Off Sucks
Job loss is one of the most stressful things that can happen to you. The shock, anger and fear are real. Channel your emotions, without letting them sabotage you, such as keeping a journal or talking with a friend. For me, pounding the pavement and sweating it out worked wonders.
Seek Help From Your Former Employer
Find out what benefits your employers offers, such as career counselling through their EAP (Employee Assistance Plan), or even extending your group insurance.
Sort Out Your Finances
If you’re reading this and are currently employed, aim to set aside 6 months savings in a separate account, as a pre-emptive measure. It takes 3-6 months on average to land a new job, so you’ll need to budget accordingly. Cut back on discretionary spending eg eating out less or suspending your gym membership. Prioritize essential expenses such as rent or the minimum credit card repayments.
Learn from the Experts
There’s an abundance of career resources in NYC, many of them free:
A good job coach is an investment in your career. Belinda Jackson is a New York City based career coach, specializing in career transitions who has helped many clients thrive after job loss. Australian-born Belinda suggests reflecting on what you learned from your previous role and asking yourself what you really want to do, instead of automatically applying for similar roles.
There are plenty of good job search books. One of my favorites is: The Twitter Job Search Guide by Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan, Deb Dib. Whilst this book focuses on how to leverage Twitter, it offers wholistic advice which can be applied across the end-to-end job search process.
Make a Plan and Work Your Plan
Not sure where to start? Belinda says, “I encourage my clients to start with this self auditing exercise to identify their interests and aptitudes”.
From there, identify objectives and daily tasks, eg:
- Update your resume
- Set up job search alerts
- Revamp social media accounts for professional purposes
- Reconnect with people in your network
- Address gaps training and experience
- Attend networking events
Get Together with People Face to Face
Sitting at a computer can get lonely, so face to face contact is essential. I joined a job seekers’ support group and realized I wasn’t alone. I ended up running an informal workshop within the group to share strategies I had used to land my next position. You can find support groups on MeetUp.com, social media – or start one yourself. Volunteering is another way to engage with the community, and it may develop your skills and expand your network. Belinda advises to set honest expectations with your volunteer group about your situation eg your time limitations or need for flexibility.
Cultivate & Project Resilience
Every experience is a learning opportunity. I reflected on what an amazing opportunity it was to work for my former employer. When I interviewed for new positions, I conveyed my gratitude to the hiring manager, highlighting the skills and experience that I was now excited to bring to a new employer. Resilience in the face of adversity differentiates you from other candidates. Who would you rather hire? Someone who tackles problem solving with optimism, or someone who becomes derailed by circumstances?
Practise Self Care
Job hunting is a full time job and self care is paramount. I kept a strict routine, including regular sleep and wake hours, and limited time sappers such as watching tv. I “filled my cup” with exercise, joining a walking group and attending free NYC social and professional events.
You Will Survive a Job Loss
Being laid off and job hunting are stressful events, but with persistence you WILL land another job. Use these challenges as a springboard for positive transformation. One day you will be telling your story about how you survived losing your job – so you may as well make sure it’s a compelling one.
A special thanks to Belinda Jackson, of Working In The USA – Career Coaching with Belinda Jackson, for her keen insights and tips to survive job loss.