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Losing a job can be truly devastating and challenging to overcome. The fact that someone didn’t see your value as an employee and a person can leave you with a lot of questions and uncertainty about what to do next. The problem is that there can be many reasons why you could lose a job, ranging from poor work performance to downsizing due to company problems or unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19.
Regardless of why it happened, you need to bounce back, and with a little guidance, you can do just that. To get you back on your feet, let’s look at how you can deal with the initial job loss, what you should do in the meantime, and a game plan for getting that next big job.
It stings to lose a job. There is no way around that. It is okay to have feelings of anger and fear, but you don’t want to stay there, or you may never move on. This is a good time to lean on your family and friends, confide in them, and tell them how you are feeling and try to get some comfort. If your feelings continue to escalate or fail to dissipate, then you may need to speak to a professional therapist, as understanding your emotions is the only way to evolve towards the next steps.
Now, take some time to consider why you have lost your job. If the company lets you go without a proper reason, then you may have legal recourse. For instance, if you were fired for using your benefits, such as parental leave, but the employee handbook says you have the right to do so, then you could sue for wrongful termination. However, you need to look through that handbook and research your state to see if you have a case. If you are considered an “at-will” employee, then you can be terminated without reason.
Regardless of how you lost your job, you should try to move on without causing a scene or talking badly about your employer. During the exit interview, you can ask questions, but you shouldn’t start berating them or insulting the company. Once you are home, refrain from bashing them on social media. Not only will you burn that bridge and destroy the chance of getting a referral, but it will also make you look unprofessional, and that attitude could turn off future potential employers.
Once you find closure, you need to set into action and create a plan for life without income and benefits. Start by reviewing your finances and creating an updated budget that shows all of your expenses and what money you still have coming in to pay them. This is the time to cut down on the extras like your coffee runs and that cable package that you never watch.
While you are waiting for your next big opportunity, you can earn some money and stay current on your debts with a side hustle. Many people decide to work for a driving service like Uber or a food delivery company. However, there are many different part-time jobs based on your expertise. If you are good at writing, you could be a freelance writer, or if you have teaching experience, you can do online tutoring.
During this time, it is important to not fall into bad habits of staying up all night and spending all day on the couch. Instead, you need to focus on your health. Maintain a diet free of fast food and replace it with protein, fruit, and whole grains. Doing so will not only keep you in good shape, but a proper diet can give you the necessary energy and reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack when you are already stressed out as it is. Also, get at least seven hours of sleep at night, so you are alert and predictive as you start your job search.
Now it is officially time to move onto the next job that will define your career. You may not know where to start, so begin with people you know. Turn to your friends and social networks like LinkedIn and post that you are currently looking for work. List your references, past experience, and any certificates or licenses that you currently possess. If you think that further education is holding you back, then this might be a good time to return to school and work on your degree.
If you rushed into your last job, this is the opportunity to get it right and find an opportunity that will not only help you grow professionally but will also provide the benefits you require. Make sure that you ask good questions while job searching to ensure that they offer adequate health insurance and that they allow you to work from home if you feel unsafe traveling during the pandemic. A good company should also offer an adequate work-life balance, so if you need time off to take care of your kids or go to the doctor, you can do so without much push back.
When applying, you want to send new employers an updated resume that includes your last job. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be specific about what you did in your past work. So, instead of writing generalities like you improved sales, state that you “implemented a new retention strategy to increase sales by 15%.” It also wouldn’t hurt to work on your interview skills during this time by looking up commonly asked questions and practicing your responses.
Yes, losing your job can certainly bring you down, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road. Don’t let it destroy you. Instead, create a plan and push forward, and you will find that next great opportunity.
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