Do you live in fear of losing your job? If so, you’re not alone. We cannot ignore the financial pressures of living in a crazy, messed-up world, and the media bombards us with stories of tech giants laying off thousands of staff, which makes us uncomfortable.
Losing your job can knock your self-esteem, cause financial hardship and insecurity and negatively affect your close relationships. In addition, if your identity closely aligns with your work, it can lead to depression and a feeling of worthlessness.
At a time when you must be productive and positive to find a new job, your energy levels decline. To add insult to injury, potential employers ghost your applications and don’t provide feedback after interviews. That’s on them, of course, but it doesn’t help your mindset at a time when you need support.
However, all is not lost. You can bounce back like a boss after losing your job, so read on and find out how.
I Lost My Job. What’s the First Thing I Should Do?
Do you know what to do when you lose your job? Probably not, so here’s a guide to help you understand your experiences and take the best action plan.
You will probably run the gamut of emotions from fear to anger, frustration, shock, hope, relief, anxiety, and back again. That is 100% normal and to be expected. Don’t fight it because accepting the turmoil of a sudden life change makes it easier to manage.
None of us knows our future, but what often happens is what seems like the worst event transpires as the best thing ever happening to us. For example, if you’re made redundant, it could be the nudge to move into a career you’ve dreamt of, but you’ve been too afraid to rock the status quo, leave your comfortable job and leap into the unknown. Now, you can do it without risk.
Don’t burn your bridges with the company you’re leaving, no matter how you came to lose your job. Don’t lose control of your emotions by venting at the person giving you the bad news or bad-mouthing your manager to your coworkers. Remember, you need a reference and don’t want your former employer mentioning unreasonable, rude or erratic behaviour to potential new employers.
If the company is laying off multiple staff members, try not to take the job loss personally. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good at your job or the company doesn’t appreciate your work. Nobody wants to be made redundant, but layoffs are usually a numbers exercise.
If the company fired you, and you understand you made a mistake or your job performance was poor, get as much feedback as possible. Learn from this incident to improve and reduce the chances of it happening again.
If you genuinely believe that you lost your job through discrimination, you must take action. Employees have rights, and everyone in an organisation should receive equal and fair treatment without discrimination.
It may seem daunting to pursue a discrimination claim. However, it will help you process the job loss, and you’ll also help prevent others in the organisation from having a similar experience.
An 8-Step Process to Cope With Losing Your Job
Losing your job may be one of the most stressful experiences, but it helps to have a strategy for managing your emotions and creating a plan of action. The following eight steps will help you navigate the fallout of losing your job.
#1: Don’t Panic: Research Your Financial Situation With the Employer
Depending on the circumstances of the job loss, find out what financial entitlement you have, such as pension schemes, salary due, benefits, bonuses or severance packages.
Before you leave, ask about things like: –
- Accrued overtime, holiday or sick pay
- Terms of health cover
- Unemployment insurance eligibility
- Dates for when you must return company equipment, such as laptops, phones etc
It’s also worth asking if you can change to a part-time position or get hired as a freelancer. The worst the employer can say is no, but it could lead to a new direction as a freelance contractor.
If your company is unwilling to discuss the financial implications of losing your job, contact an organisation such as the United Kingdom’s Citizens Advice Bureau or the United States Department of Labor.
Even if accessing state benefits feels like the worst thing in the world, it can provide a little financial breathing space between jobs.
#2: Assess Your Financial Situation
It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand, be optimistic about getting a new job quickly and choose not to inspect your financial situation. However, that’s probably the worst thing you can do. Facing the truth will help you plan, seek the financial support you need and free your mind from worrying about how long your money pot might last.
Make a list of your monthly outgoings, such as rent or mortgage, utility bills, streaming services, childcare costs, and other regular bills. The next step is to consider your available money and how long it will last without unexpected outgoings.
Choosing how to reduce your outgoings and contacting organisations like your mortgage provider, credit card companies, and the bank can be tricky. However, financial organisations have the structure to help those struggling with payments. If you are upfront with the challenges, they will do their best to help you budget for the weeks or months ahead.
Finally, once your financial situation is under control, consider whether it’s possible to pursue temporary work as a freelancer or part-time employee.
#3: Ask for Support
For some reason, most people feel embarrassed after losing their job. Some don’t talk about it, and others pretend it isn’t happening, hoping they’ll find a new job quickly to avoid the “what happened?” conversations.
Losing a job is a form of grief because you suddenly feel like you have lost control of everything stabilising your existence. Your daily routine turns upside down, and you may lose a sense of purpose.
Choose your confidantes carefully. Avoid the doomsayers and focus on connecting with positive individuals eager to help, such as a career counsellor or coach, former colleagues or a support group.
Before losing your job, focus on building a LinkedIn community. If you have a supportive community, it’s an excellent business platform for job seekers. Your contacts will share your job-seeking posts and may put you in touch with the right people.
In addition, develop a relationship with your recruiter. They know you well, understand what you’re seeking and can quickly present your resume to the right companies. Contact the CB Recruitment team for advice.
#4: Stay Positive: Focus on the Things You Can Control
Losing your job can make it feel as if your life is spiralling out of control. The urge to take immediate action and get another job can send you into a tailspin. However, your limbic system is in overload, the fight or flight response pumping cortisol through your body, and it’s not the best time to make impulse decisions.
This situation is a setback. Everything in life is transient, and nothing stays the same.
If you endorse the belief that everything happens for a reason, you know it isn’t your job to figure out the details. Just be your best self and approach everything with a “can do” attitude, and you will make things happen.
Firstly, take a breath, and acknowledge that you lost your job. Even if you hate your job, it can still hurt. Process the information for a few days or weeks without trying to control every aspect of your situation.
- Take time to consider your next move. Do you want to continue in the same direction? Were you happy at work, and did it align with your motivations and values?
- Once you know your career direction, review your resume and adapt it to job applications
- Get help from a reliable recruiter and let them help you with your chosen career path
- Try not to take rejection personally. You may not get the first job you apply for, and that’s OK
- Take time out every day to consider your state of mind, your job-seeking strategy and your ongoing finances
Develop a resilient and optimistic mindset. Believe that you CAN achieve great things and get a better job than the one you left.
#5: Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Unless you screwed up big time, it’s not your fault you lost your job. Even if the company said your performance was subpar, that isn’t the end of the world. If you get feedback, that can help.
Perhaps the company onboarded you poorly, the job exceeded your skill level, or management refused to hear your concerns. We aren’t saying blame the company, no matter how tempting that is, but organisations get things wrong too. Try looking at the situation dispassionately and reflecting on everything leading up to the job loss.
Meantime, take daily time for physical and mental health and well-being. Go for a walk, eat a healthy diet and get sufficient sleep. Protect your energy so you can divert it to bringing your best self into job applications and interviews.
Observe addictive behaviours developing to quash your feelings, such as drinking a few glasses of wine every night, smoking, being glued to Netflix series at 3 am or binge-eating junk food as a source of comfort. Feeling unwell or unhealthy is not conducive to getting your next job.
If possible, a short vacation away from the home environment can help you get a clear head and better prepare for the preparation ahead.
#6: Is There an Opportunity for a Career Change?
Could this be a chance to make the career change you want? Perhaps you’re working in social media but are passionate about cybersecurity or want to become a blockchain developer. Now’s your chance. Align your skills, personality and values to a new career path, and job satisfaction is more likely.
It’s too easy to panic and get sucked back into the same old job role you had before, finding yourself unhappy and frustrated. Is earning an income enough to fulfil your hopes and dreams for a career? Only you can answer that question but don’t wait until it is too late to pursue a job where you cannot wait to get started every day.
If your industry is in a lull, consider whether it’s time to switch to a more lucrative sector where you may get more job security. For example, cybersecurity engineers are in demand and will continue to be needed as the Web3 future unfolds.
Decide what you want to do, research what you need and set your intention to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. Become a super strategist, underpin your intention with action, and watch the momentum gather as you head to better career grounds.
#7: Fine-Tune Your Resume, Interview and Job-Hunting Skills
Is your resume out of date? Does it cover everything you have achieved so it is clear to hiring managers how you can provide value in a new role?
Write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest and ask for feedback from colleagues, friends or partners if needed. Focus on compounding your career strengths and improving your weaknesses.
Learn how to write a letter of interest and the best skills to put on a resume and write a fantastic cover letter. After that, focus on mastering interview techniques like a pro via the phone, face-to-face or group interviews.
For every job application, you may be competing with hundreds of others, maybe with comparable skills and qualifications. Therefore, it is crucial to stand out amongst the crowds of sameness and differentiate your value as the candidate to hire.
Yes, interview success is a confidence thing, but try not to fall into the trap of comparing yourself unfavourably to others. Do the preparation work, trust that you are as good as anyone else, and nail the interview like a boss.
Focus on being authentic and honest. If you lose your job for poor performance, you cannot hide it. Tell the hiring manager it was a fantastic learning experience, and explain what you have done to change your future as a valued employee.
#8: Find Other Ways to Define Your Identity
Tying up your identity in work is why many people feel deflated and purposeless after retirement. When someone asks what you do, you feel proud to say you’re a chief marketing officer, metaverse developer or cybersecurity engineer. The listener is impressed, and it puffs up your ego. However, you don’t feel so good telling people you are unemployed.
You are not the only person in the world to lose a job, and you will find something better. Still, for now, focus on pursuing ways to align your identity that is not reliant upon “what you do.”
Try taking up a creative hobby, volunteering or taking a college course. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to study Italian or take a photography or oil painting course, so why not now? There are many free college courses for the unemployed, so take advantage whilst you can.
Spend time with your family and friends and reconnect to how it feels to have a life outside of work. It’s not unusual for people who have lost their job to discover a new passion for life and choose an entirely different career path as a freelancer or part-time employee. Quality of life and work/life balance can disappear in the frenzy of business life working as an employee.
Losing your job can also affect your family, especially if children are involved.
How to Help Your Children Cope With the Changes
Depending on how you react to losing your job, the uncertainty of your situation can affect your children. When a child witnesses a parent in an unstable mindset, it shakes their need for stability. Children tend to imagine the worst and cannot look ahead to the future. They see things as happening right now, and as you spiral out of control, they become burdened with the need to regain solid ground.
Your children may “act out” their insecurity by misbehaving, which only worsens if you become irritable or angry at their behaviour.
Open a dialogue. Your children must understand that the situation is nobody’s fault. You may be the hero in their eyes, and they need to believe in you. Don’t overburden them with details. Instead, suggest ways they can help you, such as accepting that you cannot spend as much money on birthday or Christmas presents as usual.
If your children are old enough, get them to help with Google searches for interview techniques or practice role-playing interviews. Mainly, get them involved in the positive aspects of a job search and reassure them that everything will be OK.
Conclusion: How to Bounce Back Like A Boss After Losing Your Job
Bouncing back from a job loss takes a determined mindset, resilience and a belief that things can only improve. The last thing you want is to feel like a headless chicken and jump into another job too quickly.
Colin got made redundant from his role as chief marketing officer. Feeling stressed, he’d made a few mistakes, and didn’t get along with his boss. For some time, Colin had lived beyond his means. His job was well-paid, and he had no savings and a large mortgage.
Colin panicked and subsequently had five jobs in the space of six months. He couldn’t settle. After a breakdown at work, Colin took time off, deferred his mortgage for three months, and spoke to a career counsellor and a recruiter. In conclusion, Colin decided he no longer wanted to work as a CMO.
Colin realised he wanted a change, and, after carefully assessing his values, personality and interests, he retrained in video game writing and got his first role a month after completing training. He and his wife downsized their house, started saving for a rainy day and finally enjoyed a superior quality of life.
Colin’s story shows that sometimes losing your job can lead to a positive life change if you don’t panic.
Follow the steps outlined in this article, talk to the CB Recruitment team, and explore a new career path that fulfils you and lights up your days.