Author: Dr. Shawntia Key
Losing a job can bring about a wave of emotions. Embarrassment, uncertainty, and fear are just a few emotions that could have anyone spiraling and their self-confidence plummeting. Emotionally navigating through the "now what" could seem unimaginable, but it is not impossible. This article provides FIVE TIPS for recovering from losing your job and rebuilding your professional confidence!
TIP # 1 - Give yourself a chance to mourn
When I was at the peak of my professional career, I found myself suddenly out of a job. I analyzed every moment leading to my departure, stressed over every upcoming bill, and panicked at the thought of not getting a new job. How was I going to move forward? Why did this situation happen to me?
It wasn't until the fifth day of mourning that I accepted my feelings as a normal yet painful step in my recovery process. Losing a job is like ending a relationship. It is hurtful, confusing, and forces you to take a hard look at yourself. And just like a relationship, you will need time to mourn your loss, process your emotions, and find the strength to be motivated again.
Soon enough, you will become more knowledgeable about the next opportunity that comes your way. So don't beat yourself up so much for spiraling - it's a crucial first step.
TIP #2 - Tie up loose ends
Tying up loose ends isn't the easiest after losing a job, especially when unexpected. Loose ends can range from packing up your workstation, returning office equipment, or merely saying goodbye, all of which can be an emotional ordeal. Communicating through the Human Resources (HR) department is the safest way to ensure you are transitioning out correctly but provides you with a layer of protection.
Human Resources allow you to express concerns and ask transitional questions without the discomfort of speaking to your supervisor. Take time to write out any questions, concerns, and "loose ends" that need completing. Schedule a time with HR to go over every area. The goal of tying up loose ends is to ensure you are entirely ending this professional chapter with no reason to follow up. But always remember, it is HR's job to ensure the company is safe from any legal issues - so always keep that nugget in the back of your mind. If you have any problems, questions, or concerns, consider seeking free consultation with a lawyer before approaching HR.
# 3 - Reflect and apply
Admit it - you've had at least one experience imagining your dream job. Was it fully remote? Did you admire a particular management style? This free moment is the time to apply for everything you ever wanted. Losing your job doesn't mean you have to settle for anything that comes your way. Reflect on your professional goals and take advantage of the endless possibilities. But don't ignore your typical "go-to" positions. According to Chakrabarti (2017), there is an 8.3% chance of getting a job interview from a single job application. My grandfather always said that applying for jobs was a numbers game - the more you apply, the higher your chances for an interview
Tip # 4 - Don't beat yourself up for taking a break
I tend to lose all motivation when I feel too overwhelmed. There was a point when I didn't apply for jobs for an entire week, and I spent an additional three days hating myself for not applying. Do not underestimate the emotional roller-coaster of losing your job. It's not the end of the world if you miss a few days, and mental fatigue can come in many forms. The most important lesson is to listen to your body, rest, and start again when you are truly ready.
Tip # 5 - Market yourself
When I lost my job, I'd been in the field for over ten years. At that point, many of my professional experiences had blended, and although I could articulate what I did, I was not using enough "keywords" to garner much interest.
I started researching positions similar to my previous ones and gathered keywords from the job posts to describe my experiences better. I used those terms on my resume and began to practice articulating my experiences more comfortably. Once I determined the main themes of my professional portfolio, I brainstormed the different avenues I could use to market myself. I developed a professional website, digital resume, and re-engaged on social media and LinkedIn. In the end, my goal was to market myself, network with as many people as possible to develop new relationships, become self-employed, and become a resource for others in need.
Being an advocate for yourself while staying positive during unemployment is not easy. It takes a lot of discipline. But one thing is for sure, anything you develop can never be taken away from you.
Dr. Shawntia Key provides free 15-minute consulting for international and higher education professionals. Schedule an appointment or learn more at URepAbroad.com/services
Campbell, P. (2015). 4 things to do when your brain is tired. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/imperfect-spirituality/201507/4-things-do-when-your-brain-is-tired
Chakrabarti, K. (2017). How long does it take to get a job in America today? Retrieved from talent.works/2017/09/22/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-job-60-days-if-youre-in-hr-or-ales/