The current pandemic has left many without jobs, and few resources to assist during these ever volatile times. Whether you have been recently laid off, furloughed, or your employer has warned of a layoff, losing a job during this pandemic can be emotionally overwhelming. It can set off a jarring, frustrating and confusing set of emotions. Especially when the layoff is unexpected.
A layoff can leave you in despair and a state of confusion regarding your self-worth and future life security. But we’re here to tell you that it does not have to affect the progress of your career. In fact, it can be a good time to re-think your career direction, and what it is that you truly want from your life. There are things you can do to bounce back from these challenging times, and you will get back on your feet.
Steps for Getting Yourself Back in Action
Give yourself time to grieve
There is a lot of advice out there that will advise that wallowing in emotions after a job loss is counterproductive, and that it won’t serve to help your situation. While excessive self-pity or spinning into a depression is not good for anyone, you are human and deserve to give yourself room to properly grieve your job loss. Many people do in fact garner a sense of self-worth from their jobs and how they contribute to them. Losing a job that you put forth great effort, and gave your best can hurt—and that is a reality that shouldn’t be ignored. And while your job or career shouldn’t dictate the entirety of your self-worth, to ignore its importance would only be a disservice to yourself.
If you have the means to do so, you should take a short vacation or get some time in a place where you can reflect and process the loss of your job. This is particularly true for a job that you have been with for long-period of time, or where the loss was completely unexpected (which has been the case for many due to the pandemic). Allow yourself to feel the spectrum of your emotions and process all of the feelings associated with them. Attempting to suppress, ignore, or deny (your emotions) will only lead to feelings of contempt, and possibly depression. Understand that the job loss is not a reflection of you or your value, and that you do have options to move forward. You should also consult a therapist if you find the loss particularly difficult as every resource there to help you should be fully taken advantage of.
Assess your finances
Don’t wait too long to get moving. After you have given yourself time to process your job loss, you will want to get into action. After reflecting on the situation, the next thing is to estimate how long you can survive without a source of income. Calculate your savings and severance package first, then estimate your monthly spending. If it is necessary for you to apply for unemployment benefits, do it immediately. Clearly define your financial status and make a budget for your monthly expenses. If it is necessary to eliminate or reduce some of your expenses, don’t hesitate to do it. You can add them back to your monthly budget after getting a new job or a source of income. While this current period can be tough, it is important to not let yourself slip into unnecessary credit-card debt—especially when your primary source of income is no longer there. Make sure that your spending is only on put towards essentials. If you worry that you may slip into purchasing alcohol or other substances you can consult a family member or friend to help hold you accountable.
Consult your contacts
You can set up a calendar to give yourself small goals to accomplish so that you do not feel overwhelmed. You are going to need to put in much work with your efforts, but by way of forward action you will get to where you need to be.
After you have consulted your company’s HR department for severance, and final benefits, your next plan of action should be to consult your network. Ask them for job leads, recommendations, and anything else that can help you get back to work. Think of ways that you can remarket your resume and be sure to add any additional skills that you have learned since your last position. Be ready to attend networking events, and job fairs. Also do your best to make it a point to keep in contact with your job leads and recruiters so that you can be top-of-mind for when the next job opportunity arises.
Strategize on how you will get a new job. Think about the next job you want. Figure out if you need a similar job, or if you need to change your career. After you have made the decision about what to do next, take time to update your online professional profiles and resume. You can read articles on how to revamp your resumes and profiles or pay a professional to get it done for you. You should be sure to fill in any gaps on our resume as well. You may also want to consider volunteering or taking a class to improve your skills.
Apply for jobs
After making plans on your next move, the next step is to apply for jobs. But do not rush your job applications in frustration. Be sure to read each job description and make sure it is one that fits your skills and what you want to do. Online platforms such as Monster and Linkedin can help with your search as well. While you are applying for jobs, don’t forget the negotiation step. Do your research and be conversational during your interviews up to the standards of your industry. While it might be tempting, do not accept the first offer thrown out at you in desperation. Know your worth and act accordingly. Once you receive an offer you should be prepared to negotiate (you should always negotiate a job offer) based on your findings. You can ask for things in terms of salary, work-from-home flexibility, extra time off, and other benefits that you find important. This should help you get what you deserve when you are eventually employed for the job position.
Another tip is to allow the job search process to be what it is. Too frequently when applying for jobs, people will spend endless hours scouring message boards, and online forums regarding when they should hear back, or why they haven’t heard back, or what they should do to become the top pick. If you have done your best to present yourself well in mannerisms, dress, background, and interview skills, then the rest is up to destiny. Do not waste your time chasing the recruiter (however a general short follow up is okay if you truly believe that you were a top candidate), or asking “Why aren’t they calling me?” type of questions. If the job is for you, and you stood out, the HR team will get in contact and make things happen. And if you think of most of the jobs that you have come to have, this has likely been the case. Don’t chase. Let the HR team do their job.
Consider starting a business
If you are someone who has always wanted to strike it out on their own, then a layoff can be the perfect time to think about ways that you can do just that. If you have the financial means to spend some of your savings on starting a business, or can secure a business loan, then now is the time to do so. However, starting a business is not for the faint of heart, nor will you passively achieve overnight success and anyone who tells you otherwise is not being honest.
Starting a business takes time, extreme focus, dedication and commitment. If you start a business on a whim, you will not likely be prepared for all that it entails mentally and emotionally as finances are just a slim factor of the equation (surprising but true). This is especially true if you have just experienced a layoff, as your emotions will already be running high. Starting a business will absolutely require determination, drive, and a little bit of something notable author Angela Duckworth describes in her book as Grit. But if you have always wanted to run your own enterprise, and contribute something significant, genuine, and helpful in terms of your business, you can be successful.
There are numerous business associations that help to garner a sense of community for its members and those just starting out. Organizations such as SCORE (a highly invaluable resource) provide resources such as one-to-one mentorships with high-level professionals who can help you get started on the right foot. Your mentor can assist you with crafting a business plan, SWOT analysis, and start-up expense report to get started. They even offer several ready-made templates for these purposes. This organization also offers resources on small business loans, micro loans, and other financial resources to help you get a head-start with your business. I highly recommend this organization if you are looking to start a business.
In addition, groups such as your local Chamber of Commerce, and NAWBO (a women’s group), provide spaces for business owners to share information, educate themselves on business ownership, and network with their fellow entrepreneurs. Websites such as sba,gov, nfib.com and standforsmall.com also offer vital resources for opportunities for small business owners to cut costs.
A layoff can be an exceedingly difficult thing to take on. However, you should allow yourself to process in its entirely, all of your emotions and what has occurred. Seeking out family, friends, recruiters and other acquaintances can be integral in how you are able to move forward. You can decide if you would like to continue a traditional career path, or if starting your own business would be a better (and feasible) option. A job loss is never to be taken lightly, but with time patience, and perseverance, you can get back on balance, and back on your road to success—in whatever way that feels right for you.