Fired. Downsized. Laid off. Restructured. Not sure what else the kids are calling it these days, but it happens to everyone at some point in their career. It happened to me and I found seven steps that have made the transition easier and (almost) enjoyable.
1 Don’t take it personally
This is the toughest step. You will probably need to focus on acceptance on a daily basis at first. It may have been politics, performance, economics, or something else, but the reason you no longer have a job is irrelevant. You are now unemployed. Yes, you will grapple with anger, shame, fear, denial and sadness. This emotional cycle is crippling. Let it go. It isn’t good or bad. It just is. The sooner you remove the emotion, the sooner you will free yourself to take on the next challenge.
2 Be Prepared
Update your resume. Complete your LinkedIn profile. Get business cards. Sharpen your job pitch. Treat your search like a job. If your former employer took back your technology, get a new phone, laptop, iPad, blackberry or whatever works for you. Your new workspace will likely be the local coffee shop, so make sure you have what you need to function as a mobile office.
3 Call/write/contact everyone you know
If you are not a natural networker this is hard. Think of it as an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and coworkers. Go through your address book and reach out to everyone. Those first emails and phone calls are painful. Set a goal every day and stick to it. Write 5 emails. Make 5 phone calls. It is a numbers game and the more contacts you make the more opportunities you will uncover. Plus, you won’t find a job online. You will likely find it through your extended network. Your contacts are one of your biggest assets.
4 Don’t take it personally, Part 2
You will get blown off by a lot of people. Job search can be a daily beatdown of unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls and cancelled meetings. Yes, even your friends and colleagues will ignore you. Your timeline isn’t the world’s timeline. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep reaching out. Follow up. Ignore the bad and focus on the good. The best part of this process is discovering how amazing some people are. You will be touched by their kindness and make some great new friends along the way.
5 Get Up. Get Dressed. Get Out
Do not stay at home. Staying home is a giant time suck, plus you will wind up talking to yourself. Get up and out. Dress like you are going to work. Create a rhythm and a daily routine. Your time is yours, but use it wisely. This is your new job until you find a job.
6 Keep learning
Take classes. Sharpen your skills. Go to conferences. There are tons of great free webinars and online classes. Keep up on what’s happening in your business. Work your social media profiles. Job search is a full-time job and consider this on the job training. Try to get a little smarter every day.
7 Enjoy the Time
This is tough too, but critical to the process. The anxiety and uncertainty of unemployment hinders the ability to appreciate the gift of not working. Yes, it is a gift. You will find another job and you will work long days and get caught up in the challenges, stresses, demands and politics of that job. So enjoy this time to reevaluate, reinvent and recharge your life and career. Take time to enjoy every day. Go for walks. Hit some museums. Spend extra time with your family. Do the things you never had time for when you were working.
I hope these help anyone who is looking for work and I would love to hear your ideas on surviving job loss and unemployment.