Let’s face it. Losing your job is a harrowing experience, regardless of the circumstances.
You may not have imagined this could happen to you – you were a top performer, had a great reputation or were continuously promoted… and BOOM!
You may be feeling a mix of denial and confusion. That’s normal. The emotional roller coaster has probably just begun.
But don’t despair. In time, you will see this may have been the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
Losing your job was probably not your choice. But everything you do from this point forward, is. Here are 10 tips if you have recently lost your job:
1) Give yourself time to heal and digest what has happened.
The first few days after a termination are often marked by a roller coaster of emotions. Take the time you need to work through your anger, sadness, denial, or anything else you are feeling at this stage. Try not to be alone. Talking about your job loss can help remove negative thoughts and feelings and get you moving forward, faster.
2) Stay on positive terms with your employer – and away from negative social media!
Often, people will panic and do stupid things they later regret like emailing all their business contacts or blasting social media with negative comments about their former employer. While this is an emotionally-charged time, voicing your frustration about a previous employer is not in your best interests. In fact, making negative comments publicly could result in a reduction of the settlement offered by your employer.
If the urge hits, take a deep breath, lift your hands off the keyboard and remember that disparaging a former employer may reflect more poorly on you than them. Plus, you never know when you might end up working with them again, or require a reference.
3) Deal with the big picture and manage the important things first.
Line up the professionals that you need. This may include an employment lawyer, financial counselor, psychologist or other therapist. Assess your finances and adjust your budget to make time to find your next opportunity. Most importantly, don’t make any major decisions right away.
4) Do something to take your power back.
Often when one has been fired, there is an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. You may have given and given and only felt you only got a pink slip in return. Do something to “take back your power”. For example, if your employer has provided you with an outplacement package, don’t just settle. Advise them that you wish to select the firm that you want as your “A Team”.
GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO YOURSELF. It could be that drive to the mountains, a manicure, a hike on a sunny day, reading a great novel or a trip to visit your best friend in another city. Do something you may have denied yourself for a long time.
5) Resist the urge to blast your resume to every job under the sun.
A common reaction to losing a job is to run to something familiar. Unfortunately, that almost always guarantees you’ll end up with more of what you had, which may not be the best decision. In fact, if given a choice, many people would probably prefer to do something different next time!
If this describes you..
- Refrain from sending out job applications until you have calmed down and done some self-discovery work to determine what you really want to do – and why.
- If you are angry or desperate, this may come across in your job applications. Plus, no employer wants someone who is desperate or has a chip on their shoulder about their former boss.
- Don’t be a career chameleon and apply to everything. Instead, be mindful of what you are doing, and think carefully about who might value your skills in your next role.
- Consider the advice my friend and colleague, Jane Depraitere, gives in her blog entitled, 4 Things to Remember When You Are Faced With Transition.
6) Don’t dwell on it. Get a lawyer, if need be, and then move on.
Try not to dwell on “why did they do this to me?” Unless you believe there is cause for wrongful dismissal, dwelling on the reasons for your termination can drive you crazy and keep you so rooted in the past that you can’t look - or move - forward. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, seek good legal advice, THEN MOVE ON!
7) Be mindful of your duty to mitigate
One of the responsibilities you have as an employee is to mitigate losses by obtaining alternative employment. If you have received a severance and:
- NOT received a transition package - ask for one. The reason employers hire outplacement firms to help you land your next opportunity as soon as possible.
- HAVE received a transition package - tell your employer you’d like to choose the provider. After all, it’s your duty to mitigate, so why shouldn’t you get services you think are best suited to help you perform it?
8) Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed.
Don’t beat yourself up! In the majority of cases, terminations are not a result of performance issues. More often, they are due to issues like restructuring, change in corporate direction, new leadership, political conflicts or poor chemistry with the boss. Most of these things are not within your control. And if you did have a conflict with your boss, why would you still want to be there anyway?
9) Manage the “money block”.
If you are stressed about money, immediately do a material inventory of your life and ask yourself, “what can you live without?”. Overcoming this mental block is essential for planning with a clear conscience. And if you qualify for unemployment benefits, manage them wisely.
10) Take time for some self-discovery to determine “what’s next?”.
Most people spend more time picking out their next vehicle than they do their next career! Being terminated is a huge opportunity to do rediscover your passions, abilities, values, beliefs and purpose. This could be the most important work you do in your life, therefore…
- Assess your options. You may realize you weren’t really happy in your former job, and taking another job in the same field isn’t going to solve the problem – now or in the future!
- You may realize you want to completely switch careers or do some quality research to proactively select the boss or environment that enables you to really soar and fulfill your potential.
- Look for transferable skills to another industry.
- Take some assessments.
- Get a great career consultant.
- Get out and network with people who have careers that interest you.
Who knows – you may end up turning this difficult time into an opportunity to land MUCH higher in your career. It may be too early to call your termination a “gift” but it may have just been the break you needed to get you on a much better career path.
That, I think, is a pretty great gift.
If you have any questions about this sometimes daunting process of outplacement, transition and/or transformation, feel free to leave a comment, send us a message from the CONTACT US page, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jackie Rafter, President
Editor's note: Check out our Workshops that are designed to help Calgarians get back to work!