Over the years I have worked with many people to help them prepare to find a new job after they’ve unexpectedly lost theirs. This is a time to go easy on yourself since it is considered by many to be one of life’s most stressful experiences. When someone comes to me for help, here are three things I share with everyone.
#1: Take time to grieve
Losing a job is like losing a loved one – it is a huge loss and causes grief. The grief comes from breaking connection with the things that have defined you professionally: your position, responsibilities, daily routine, work community, sense of security, and most importantly, your working identity. It is important to give yourself permission and the time to grieve and feel any other emotions that may come up for you. By honoring your emotions, you’re actually allowing yourself to come to terms with, accept and ultimately move past the loss. I have found that only then are you in the right frame of mind to think about looking for a new job. If you don’t allow yourself time to grieve, chances are you’ll feel stuck and angry, which may cause you to procrastinate about moving forward.
#2: Talk to others
Losing a job can be lonely and isolating. To help move through this challenging time, it is best to reach out to others for support. You may find that your strongest supporters are the people who have gone through a job loss or who are now going through a search; they understand and have compassion for what you’re going through. They may also be able to give you helpful job search tips and facilitate important introductions. I also highly recommend talking to a career professional, such as a career coach who can offer you guidance and direction on your job search and be a cheerleader for you while you are in the process.
#3: Take inventory
Before jumping into a search, make a list of your strengths, skills, successes, accomplishments, unique work experiences, and certifications. This will help you get clear on who you are, what you’re good at, and what’s important to you – all of which is necessary information to have as you think about what you want in your next position. I utilize a tool with my clients called StrengthsFinder 2.0. This 30-minute online strengths assessment identifies a person’s top five strengths, which helps with building confidence and self-esteem for the search. Taking inventory will also help you update your resume and LinkedIn profile, two must-haves when looking for a new role.
Yes, undertaking a job search can often be daunting but the right tools and support can take some of the stress out of the process. If you have lost your job and are having a tough time with your search, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how I may be able to help.