As I meet my coaching clients, it is hard to see the anxiety and stress on the minds of so many of them because of the wave of layoffs that has been happening. Losing a job can be an extremely distressing experience as it impacts our ability to support our families. It is also emotionally difficult because our job is a source of meaning and relationships for us, and we often link our identity and self-worth with it. The emotional toll of job loss is compounded by the inherent uncertainty about our next career move.
It is very easy to fall into the trap of blaming yourself and doubting your value after being let go from your job, but it is crucial to realize that downsizing is a function of a number of factors, including the pipeline of revenue-generating projects, pressure on the bottom line, team structure, etc. It is a business decision and not a personal one.
Here are some suggestions to help you navigate the interim period while you find your next job if you are currently going through this phase.
Manage your emotions.
It is difficult to think clearly when your system is overflowing with strong emotions like anger, resentment, guilt, or shame. Before you can move forward, you must process these emotions. You can do this by talking with someone supportive, practicing mindfulness, doing some slow breathing, or engaging in physical exercise.
If you tend to push emotions away and use busyness to deal with hard times, giving yourself a chance to experience and accept your feelings in your new position may be helpful. When we do not acknowledge our emotions, they affect our behavior in ways unknown to us.
It is a challenge to convince a hiring manager that you are the right candidate when you are grieving your old job and fearing getting rejected again. Therefore, managing your emotional state is a crucial first step before you embark on the journey to find a new job. This will also help you focus on what is in your control. While you cannot control the outcome of an interview, you can use the lessons learned from your last job to prepare for the next one.
Understand your financial situation.
Knowing your financial situation allows you to estimate how long you have to search for a job. Even if it is difficult and makes you feel vulnerable, you should ideally complete this phase with the assistance of family members. Recognizing reality helps you manage it better.
Figure out what you want.
Use this time to rethink who you are and what you want. Ask yourself questions like–
– What did I learn about myself in my previous jobs?
– What are my strengths?
– What kind of environment do I need to succeed?
– What impact do I want to make next?
– Do I need to upskill myself before getting back into the job market?
– What do I want to learn in my new job?
– What kind of colleagues do I want to work with?
– Do I have a location preference?
This clarity will help you look for opportunities that align with your values and needs and where you are more likely to thrive.
Frame your layoff for your discussions.
Prepare your response to any direct query about your layoff. You want to come across as confident and at ease instead of as a victim or trapped in your tale. Remember, in the current environment, layoffs and redundancies are not uncommon. Being truthful demonstrates courage and integrity. You are more likely to come across as a strong candidate with valuable experiences if you demonstrate what you learned about yourself and what you would do differently in a similar situation.
Create a job search plan and schedule for yourself.
Finding a job is a job. Creating a schedule of how you will go about it will keep you on track. Decide when you will network, how many people you will talk to, and who you will ask for references. Determine when you will search for jobs and when you will practice answering potential interview questions. Following through with your schedule will help you feel in control, even if you do not start seeing the results of your efforts immediately. It will also save you from the roller coaster of spending inordinate hours wading through job sites on some days and sitting in despair doing nothing on others.
Take care of your well-being.
Like any other time in your life, you need to take care of yourself. Make sure you are eating well, exercising, and getting sufficient sleep. You need to manage your energy. So be kind to yourself and make time for fun. Take this opportunity to pick up that long-ignored hobby, catch up with friends, and do what gives you joy.
Last but not least, remember the time it takes you to find a new job is not entirely in your hands. Be patient with yourself, and do not lose hope.