Many of us have been here. Standing outside your office doors with a box of stuff in your hands. The reason might be a little different, you might have just been laid off, or fired, or maybe you just had enough and quit in a blaze of glory, but nevertheless, you find yourself jobless. You get home, maybe pull out a pint of ice cream or pour yourself a drink and then… your survival instincts kick in. You begin to panic, asking yourself repeatedly, “What am I going to do?”. You rush to your computer, quickly update your resume and hop onto the job boards, applying for any and every available job there is to make yourself feel better and more in control. How do I know?  I’ve been there! I know how scary that feeling is and how the panicked rush of doing something makes you feel, but trust me when I say that there is a much better way to handle this huge life event.

Stop whatever you are doing and take a moment!

Losing your job is traumatic and you are going to experience a range of a thousand emotions. Before you let those emotions rule your actions, push the pause button. The best advice that I ever received was shortly after I left a job that I loved for many years. My friend told me to embrace the whole range of my feelings, to grieve, cry, feel excited, whatever it might be, but to recognize them, deal with them, and then move on and focus on the future. Bottling them up is not going to be healthy and will impact your next move. Owning how you feel and dealing with them is going to allow whatever you do next to not be influenced by those negative emotions.  

If you continue to find yourself struggling, feeling alone, and not moving forward, try finding a group or talking to a professional to help you get those negative emotions in check. There is no shame in asking for a little help. Sometimes we all get stuck and just need that extra hand to move on.

Evaluate your current situation (a.k.a. get your finances in check and create a budget)!

Truth be told, I am the WORST at managing finances. I am the type of person that rather bury my head in the sand than face the reality of what is in my bank account. (Thank goodness for my accountant who will watch this for me!) But the reality is, knowing exactly where you are at, is going to give you some control and power back.

Scared or not, it is critical that you stop and look at your finances and determine if you need to make some adjustments. Look at things like if you have a nest egg, a severance package, or if you need to start earning money ASAP. Look over your monthly expenses and determine what you need to do to move forward.

If you need to start working ASAP, consider finding work that will still allow you to focus on finding the RIGHT job, rather than another soul sucking experience that provides a paycheck. This can include gig work such as driving for UBER or Lyft, taking on contract or temp work with a local agency, or gathering up some things that you can sell. In the end, taking on some short-term work can not only help pay the rent, but it can give you the time to focus on what’s next.

Think about what you want your next career move to be

Even though this time off work might not have been wanted, it is a great opportunity to figure out what is next and how to get that RIGHT job with the RIGHT company. Take time to evaluate what you loved about your last position and want you didn’t. Think about what you want to get out of your next role. Do you want to stay in a similar line of work or do you want to explore another career option?

Not sure what to do next? Has your confidence been shaken? Reach out to a career coach. They can help you evaluate your transferable skills, brainstorm career options, and help you market your skills and experience in a way that gets noticed. The key thing here is to plan that next move strategically, so you don’t end up in a similar situation again.

Invest in yourself

I know this seems counterintuitive since you might not have regular income coming in, but sometimes that old cliché is right, “It takes money to make money”. Focus on what you can do to improve yourself during this time.

Brush up on your skills or learn new ones by visiting your local community college or going online to Udemy or Skillshare. Not only can enrolling in a class can make you more marketable, boost your self-esteem, and keep you busy, but employers admire candidates that take care of themselves and continue to learn and grow even in the most difficult situations.

Let’s be real, losing your job sucks. There is no way around it. My hope for you is though, that after the initial shock wears off, you can see this as an opportunity for something better. Making a simple shift in your mindset from fear to optimism will help renew your outlook and allow you to embark on your job search excited and looking forward to the future.