Here is one of the simplest and honest statements you’ll probably ever read in a “How to” piece: Getting fired blows. Actually, losing your job in any fashion does. The trauma you experience is even worse if losing your job was completely unexpected. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself haunted by thoughts of “what if”, “if only I’d… ” and “how dare they!” and, before you know it, weeks have gone by.
In order to than engage in an aggressive job search, you need to avoid self-doubt and self-recrimination. While it may not occur to you at the time, such a mindset will only distract you from attending to the thing you need to focus on most: Getting a new job (and preferably quickly). An individual’s frame of mind often poses the biggest obstacles to a productive job search. While most people understand this, we often end up throwing ourselves a pity party anyway. Friends and loved ones will probably be sympathetic at first, but they will soon let you know that the only person interested in keeping that party going is you.
So, what to do? How do you get your Mojo back so you can move on to the next stage of your professional life? Although certainly not an exhaustive list, following are some suggestions intended to not only assist you through the stages of loss you might experience from losing a job but, more importantly, redirect your energy towards finding a new job:
- First things first: Defuse. Your. Anger. We understand this may be difficult but trust us when we say your anger will not serve you. Look at it this way: You can be angry for being terminated or not angry for being terminated. Either way, you’re out of a job. The sooner you process that fully and accept it, the sooner you’ll be ready to move on.
- Perform a Jobtopsy. Take stock of what really happened. If you can conduct a dispassionate assessment of why your job ended, you are much more likely to identify the real reasons for your termination and pinpoint specific performance issues or personality traits that might warrant some improvement.
- Exercise discretion. For the love of all that is good and holy (not to mention your professional future), do not engage in email communication with anyone still at the job you’ve just left based on some need you might feel to gather allies. Those people still work there and nothing good can come from you placing them in an uncomfortable position. Furthermore, are you sure the person can be trusted?
- Don’t vent. Don’t post your feelings on Facebook or other social media. Publishing your version of anything related to your recent “career adjustment” to the world at large is counterproductive and completely unprofessional. It’ll make you feel better, you say? Perhaps, but just remember that the concept of privacy on the Internet is a fallacy. What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet. Whatever satisfaction you may derive from “telling it like it is” will be forgotten if what you’ve “shared” makes the rounds in your industry and precedes you wherever you apply for work.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t hole up indoors, don’t pig out on junk food, don’t turn to self-medication. “But I want to!”, you say to yourself, “I deserve it”. We get it. Just don’t. It won’t serve you (see pity party discussion above).
- Trust the trustworthy. Talk to professionals whose opinions and judgment you respect. Share what happened fully, not just to the extent it’s comfortable. Some objective observations may help keep you grounded, assist you to move past what happened, and give you some insight into how best to proceed moving forward.
- Network. This is a good way to begin to craft your job search story. Sooner or later an interviewer will ask what happened so you might as well work on that before you’re sitting in a job interview. The more you network, the more comfortable you will become discussing your new reality with people who may be responsible for making hiring decisions. Besides, the more you network, the more exposure you will have in the job market in general and your industry in particular.
Here are some suggestions on how to create a network that supports your career goals:
1, 2, 3…. List who you know. Every. Single. Person. Everyone with whom you currently have or have had significant contact, either personally or professionally (including, if applicable, those associated with your significant other). List people you know (past and present) such as:
- Mentors, ex-employers
- Members of civic organizations, spiritual or religious groups
- Social group members (hobby clubs, youth soccer association, running group, etc.)
- Alumni associations”
- The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker….”
- Individuals who you interact with that provide you with service such as your accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, banker, etc. or those with whom you regularly come in contact in the retail industry.
Take inventory. Detail what each person does, who they do it for and how that can fit into your job searching efforts. If a person is of no foreseeable job searching value, keep their info anyway. It’s life. Stuff happens. And that person knows people.
Assess the quality of your contacts. How? Set an over/under on the number of days someone takes/you expect them to take to get back to you. Prioritize communication accordingly (but don’t let anyone know where they’re ranked!).
Create a comprehensive online networking profile. Invite your contacts to view/join the network such as LinkedIn (we can help you with this).
Join professional associations. Especially those related to your career or areas of interest, whether personal or professional.
Face the face. Or call the call. In other words, be in touch. Out of sight, out of mind. For example, send a short email or text to simply say hi and see how things are going or forward something you believe might be of interest. Reach out. Connect or reconnect. And stay reconnected.
Be of service. When your communication is focused on what you can do for someone rather than what that person can do for you, you stand a much better chance of being remembered and respected. People are therefore more likely to want to help should you request it. For example, is there an opportunity for you to be a mentor?
Management and maintenance. Stay in touch. Follow up when you say you will. Update your data with any changes. Be on the lookout for reasons to be of assistance because there’s no better way to convince people that knowing you is worthwhile than by demonstrating that it’s not all about you. Humility matters.
- Losing a job blows but you don’t. Take inventory of your career as if you were evaluating the background of someone else, with the only instruction being to prepare a presentation of the accomplishments, successes, the overall merits of that person. This exercise will go a long way towards restoring your self-confidence, critical in order to be able to demonstrate your value to prospective employers.
- For example, write two pages about your career as if you were going to be featured in the business section of your local paper. Now, compare your “article” with your resume. Are the two people the same? If your resume doesn’t compare favorably, it could probably use a revision.
- Forgive yourself.