If you are one of over eight million Americans currently unemployed, you may feel as though you've lost some sense of control over your life. Perhaps you feel like you've lost the structure your job provided? Perhaps the habits and rules that shaped your life before don't seem to fit your new situation?
Take heart, there are definitely actions you can take to get back into the swing of things. Here are eight strategies to help you to bounce back from your job loss and start on a new path for success:
- Do nothing. During the first three days after you have lost your job, you should concentrate only on understanding and accepting what happened to you so that you can begin to devote your energy to finding a new job. What you do and how you react during this three-day period will determine the ease or difficulty with which you find new employment in the weeks and months ahead.
- Resist the temptation to call business associates or contact search firms. Within the first 72-hour period from the time you are notified of your termination, you're not ready to talk rationally about new opportunities yet. Getting a new job is a systematic process, and if you do things out of sequence, you could end up hurting your chances in the future. You haven't had a chance to sort out a clear new direction and a focus for your search, and you may scare off people now, who could be helpful to you once you are ready.
- Deal with your emotions. If you hang on to your emotions, they'll almost certainly trip you up later in the job search process. Imagine for a second that you haven't dealt with the anger you're feeling toward your former boss, for example, and you're on an interview a month from now and the potential employer asks you about your former boss. You just might let your bottled-up anger show, and make the interviewer wonder if you would use that same language to describe him/her sometime in the future.
- Don't imagine you can hide your feelings. Among the top 10 stressful life events are: death of a loved one, personal injury or illness, divorce, marriage, and job loss. Losing a job is a powerful shock, and it shows; so you have to acknowledge and process your feelings and move on.
- Don't think your emotions will go away if you ignore them. Refusing to deal with feelings of self-pity, anger or failure may make a potential employer conclude that you are not flexible or adaptable. Continuing to feel ashamed about having lost your job may prevent you from appearing self-assured and self-confident when searching for new employment opportunities.
- The longer you wait, the harder it gets, so act now. Talk to someone. Tell a friend, your partner or your spouse how you feel and what you're thinking. You need a friendly, supportive, noncompetitive shoulder to lean on.
- Realize that while you cannot control how you feel, you can control how you react. The art of job loss involves taking control of a seemingly negative situation and turning it into a positive or at least neutral one. You can begin to do this by identifying all your options and asking yourself: What is the best thing I can do for me right now? (The answer should be: start moving forward.)
- Get back in the game. Once you've dealt with your emotions properly, you are ready to orient yourself away from the past and toward the future the opportunity to get ahead. Begin to outline the plan for your job search, which you can do by asking yourself the following three questions:
- What can I do?
- What will I do?
- What do I want to do?
Sherry Cadorette is President, North America for DBM.