So You Lost Your Job, Now What?

Okay, so you lost your job, now what?  Go ahead and get mad. Start hating your boss or co-workers because you were either terminated, laid off or the company went belly up. I have been through this many times and I’m here to tell you that losing your job is part of the career transition process.

While most may think that they are the victim in this situation, the reality is that no matter how long you’ve been on your job, some people tend to forget all about the “at will” policy they acknowledged it when they were offered the job.  The fact is with or without this policy any employee can be let go at any time – with or without cause.   The At Will Policy protects the organization from liability should it exercises its rights to terminate an employee at will, and that same person has the right to leave an organization at any time.  What is also tragic is that most people tend to forget is to keep their skills relevant while they are working so when termination happens they are not ready for their next career venture.

Nowadays, most employers are expecting new hire new staff every 1 to 3 years or sooner. In years past, most would stay at their jobs for more than 10 years – or even more than 20 years. However, due to constant changes in the job market coupled with the demand of new technology skills, so does the job descriptions and the needed skills needed to perform tasks. So it is imperative that you keep your skills relevant and your resume updated if you want to get back into the workforce quickly.

Like so many of you, I went through the same thing numerous times. The companies I worked for eliminated quite a number of positions including mine. In each of these occurrences, I was not let go due to my performance, but a strategic change in the organization structure or budgetary constraints. In some cases, we were bumped to lower positions. Now, of course I was upset about losing my job and being downsized. However, I still had to recognize that this was a business and strategic decision the company had to make. I also acknowledge the realization that job change is inevitable. It’s going to happen whether you choose it or not.

So, why am I writing this post?  I am writing this post because I practice what I preach and I want everyone to know how you can get back into the game.

Now you want to know what to do.  Well, get your rant and rave out of the way, and then I want you to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. Below are 6 tips that helped me in the past and can help you get you started.

Recognize It Is Not Your Fault:  Now realistically speaking, unless you did something to get terminated you should not feel like it is your fault. Getting laid off is not the fault of the employee. Even if you were at fault, you will never know it; especially, if multiple people were terminated at the same time as you. So, don’t worry about whose fault it is. What you do not want to do is carry emotional baggage, bad experiences and blame to your new job. So, once you acknowledge that being let go is part of the career transition process, the sooner can think clearly and move forward towards your new career goals. This is “the first step” to getting back in the game.

Immediately Start Applying For Jobs:  You must immediately start looking for the next opportunity. If you did not keep your resume updated while you were working, you could be missing out on applying for career opportunities. Now, you are going to have to spend time updating your resume, cover letter and gathering information to find out where you fit in the workforce today. Time is money and every day that you are without money, your resources used to sustain your job search will steadily decrease to zero. Rule of thumb is to search and apply for at least 3 to 5 jobs per day.

Immediately apply or unemployment insurance:  Since you do not know how long it will take you to find a job, you should immediately apply for unemployment benefits. The process in which to complete your application could take some time to determine your weekly benefit amount. If you do not follow-up, your application could be delayed, your payments withheld or your application could be denied. This is a good time to get your budget in order for the next few months to see how you are going to manage your finance.

Connect with past employers:  If you had a good rapport with your old employer, there could be a possibility that you could go back. I know several people who were able to go back to their old jobs. However, this may not be the case in all situations.  Before you call them, first browse their career website to see if there are any open opportunities. The worst thing you can do it call your past employer and they have no openings for you. Reserve your connection until there is a job offer available to apply to.

Taking a lateral or decrease in salary:  I know you don’t want to think this….but you may have to consider the fact that you may not get the same type of job or make the same amount of money you once before. You have to consider all option as you do not know how long you will be unemployed. Therefore, you need to apply to all skill levels of your experience. You can always perform another career transition once you are making money again.

Be diligent in your follow-up with employers:  If you do not follow-up after an interview or phone screen, you will be forgotten. It is that simple. Recruiters and hiring managers have lots of resumes to screen, interviews to schedule and you have to find a way to stand out and be memorable.  If they don’t remember you, someone else will get the job. One addition thing to note that some recruiters or hiring manager may not get back with you no matter how many calls you make or how many emails you send. Don’t get upset. Just recognize that once again this is part of the process. Just keep applying for positions and interviewing.  The right company will call you in for an interview.

Beware of Spam or Fake Recruiters: As time goes on during your job search, you may feel tempted to apply to spam recruiters email posts.  Stay the course! Only apply to actual organizations or reputable job search engines that post real jobs. A lot of the spam recruiters will look like frivolous email addresses and ask for information not normally asked by professional recruiters. So, be selective in your application process and do not send your information out to just any recruiter.

I hope that some of these tips help keep you focus on finding your next career opportunity.