After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
You go back to your desk and look around the room only to find your colleagues averting their eyes, much the same way you had done during the countless other times you have seen this very scenario play out with other people over the years.
But this isn’t about other people. It is about you. Suddenly all of your accomplishments, your dedication and sacrifices over the past number of years are gone. You are out of a job, and you don’t know where to turn or what to do first.
Unfortunately the economy has led to quite a large number of layoffs over the past five years. Many of the people who survived the initial cuts felt a little safer as the economy seemed to expand and companies took on new employees. Losing a job now, at a time of renewed confidence, can be especially hard for people who thought the crisis had passed.
In general, our culture places a great deal of significance on our employment. Often at social events, after hearing your name, people next inquire as to “what you do.” Our careers and our employment are very heavily tied to our identities. As a result, job loss can make you feel like you have lost who you are.
The first step is not to panic. This certainly is bad news, and there is no question that it can be depressing, but falling into despair doesn’t help in any way. Action wards off, or at least minimizes depression and now is the time to be proactive and take an aggressive approach toward finding your next career opportunity. Studies have found that a significant number of employees are dissatisfied with their current job and/or with their current employer. This loss may be just the impetus you need to find a much more satisfying employment situation.
It may be advisable not to do anything that same day, as people who are emotionally comprised are prone to making bad decisions, but start working on things within a very short period of time. Many corporations offer free outplacement services to their staff – take advantage of these resources. People may be angry with their former employer, but outplacement resources are valuable, and if you do not take advantage of what the company has to offer, you may find it necessary to pay for those same services later on.
Do not burn any bridges. You may be angry, but speaking negatively about your company and your colleagues will work against you. Companies are actually less likely to hire new employees who denigrate their previous employers. In today’s world you have to be especially careful not to post anything negative anywhere on social media. All of social media is the public domain, and you have to assume anything you post can be shared with your former employers.
Until you find new employment, your full time job will be looking for a new job. Set aside designated blocks of time to devote to your search every day and keep to that schedule. Dress as if you are going to work; wearing pajamas will work against you psychologically.
That being said, none of us works 24/7. It is important to give yourself time off in your job search as well. Schedule time for leisure activities and reward yourself for small achievements along the way.
Design a plan. The goal is to conduct a productive search, and just as you would plan your time and strategy at work, it is helpful to outline your action plan for finding a job.
Here are some key elements of that strategy. At Touro, we always advise our students to keep their resumes up to date, even when happily and gainfully employed. The resume is the primary job search tool, and having a professional, winning resume is foundational to any successful job search. If you don’t have an up-to-date resume that is certainly the best place to start.