No matter why or how it comes about, job loss can be devastating. Even if you didn’t love the position that you were laid off or fired from, the life changes resulting from losing a job—which often include financial uncertainty and lack of purpose—can cause you to experience a wide range of emotions. You might sink into feelings of regret and remorse, hopelessness, and/or loss of confidence about your career.
Certified Career Coach Dawid Wiacek, Founder of Career Fixer LLC, explained to Job-Hunt that from working with his clients, he has seen firsthand that job loss can do a number on people’s sense of self-esteem and confidence—and that building up “job momentum” again can be tough.
“Job loss can be incredibly demoralizing, especially if you consider yourself to be a dedicated employee,” he said. “Even if you’ve been a slacker or were underperforming, losing a job can still present a lot of challenges, including the obvious, like not having a paycheck but also negative perceptions from family and friends who might think you’re being a ‘lazy bum.'”
While finding yourself without the professional position you’ve relied on can be disorienting and scary, the fact is that not everything about losing a job is bad. Once you’ve recovered from the initial shock of being, at least for the moment, unemployed, it’s possible to recover from job loss and emerge from it in an even better situation than before—if you know the right steps to take to get back on your feet again.
“Without exception, my clients who have lost jobs have gone to do wonderful things, whether it’s starting their own businesses, taking a (forced) sabbatical, volunteering, finding jobs that are more fulfilling, and/or being paid more than at the job they lost,” Wiacek noted.
The career coach recommended trying out the following three tactics to recover more quickly and gracefully from job loss.
Give Yourself a Brain Break
In the initial aftermath of losing your job and in the first weeks of being without your usual routine that follow, it’s easy to spiral into anxiety, depression, or self-deprecating (false) thoughts about your lack of talent.
Wiacek suggested unplugging from these concerns temporarily by doing something that’s personally fulfilling to you, rather than plunging immediately into trying to line up new work. “Don’t think about the job search for a few weeks, or at least a few days,” he said. “Take some time off to go camping, or visit a nearby city that has been on your list.”
A smart way to get your foot in new doors right away, without needing to go through all the steps of a formal job search, is to offer your services as a volunteer at an organization you might be interested in working for.
“Volunteering will make you feel less crappy, it will put the focus on the other person or group that you’re serving, and, at worst, it will be a good distraction,” Wiacek said. Just as importantly, he added that volunteering could lead to new opportunities since you’ll be able to network organically. “Your fellow volunteers, or the admins from the organization that you’re volunteering under, will see your good deed and will (usually) gladly connect you with their professional network,” he pointed out.
Develop New Interests, Skills, or Hobbies
The time freed up by losing a job may create a rare opportunity in your life to do something different.
Is there something you’ve thought of doing in the past but never got to explore because you were too busy working? Wiacek said that now is the time to explore alternate career pathways and pursue new training and skills—for example, by taking a class at your local community college in person or online.
“There are plenty of stories out there of people who used a job loss to reinvent their careers toward entrepreneurship, or at the very least a career switch.”
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