It might seem like the worst moment of your life, but if you’ve lost your job — you’re not alone. At some point in the life of most people, it happens at least once.
Maybe you see it coming, or it happened already and hit you out of the blue. If so, you need to process the facts, then move forward.
It’s not always easy to do; yet, the next steps you take are essential if you want to find a better job as soon as possible.
Use these seven tips to guide you along this path, and this “setback” will become a springboard for something better!
1. Don’t React; Respond
Have you ever said something “in the moment” that you regretted later?
That’s an emotional reaction, and it’s normal. But it’s also not necessarily a good thing.
When you lose your job, you shouldn’t lose your professionalism. Your instinctive reaction when the pressure is on in the heat of the moment says loads about your character. It also creates a reputation that will follow you when you need to ask for a recommendation for another job.
If you didn’t expect the layoff, it will be more challenging to keep a poker face, but do your best. Take some time to process the news first, so you don’t have a knee-jerk emotional reaction. (It’s okay to stay silent, too.)
Responding means you’ve had time to think and calm down. Your common sense has control again, and you can form a professional reply with pertinent questions.
2. Get the Details
When you can think straight, you’re allowed to ask questions. This may be your only shot to get answers.
Make sure you’ve planned what you need to know, such as:
- Why were you fired? Was it personal or a company downsizing?
- Will your manager write you a letter of recommendation?
- Is there severance pay?
- How long will your benefits remain active?
All these questions are not just relevant — they’re essential.
Knowing why you were fired and if you can trust your manager to be a positive reference impacts your next steps. And the severance pay and benefits determine how hot the fire under your job search needs to be.
3. Create a Structure
You may feel like moping for a few days. Don’t talk yourself into it; it’s not healthy.
Of course, if you can afford it, it’s always a good idea to take a couple of “vacation days” and remind yourself that life is good. Then get on a routine of job-hunting.
It won’t take the entire day to search the job boards and send in applications.
During the rest of a standard work time block, complete other job-related tasks, like:
- Update your resume and start applying for jobs
- Review and update your professional social media accounts
- Check your closet and drawers to make sure you have something to wear for interviews
- Skim your personal social media and get rid of anything that could be offensive to future employers
It’ll be tempting to use your time off to binge on your favorite TV shows. The more determined you are now to be productive, the less time you’ll be on a job hunt.
4. File for Unemployment
Even if you don’t plan on going on unemployment, it’s a good idea to file for it immediately. Unless you have a job already lined up, it may take a while to find one. It helps to have a little income coming in while you’re searching.
As long as your unemployment status wasn’t your fault and you meet your state’s work and wage requirements, you’ll qualify.
Typically, this means that you had to have worked the first four out of five “calendar quarters” before you filed the claim. (That’s at least one year on the job.)
Contact your state’s unemployment program. They’ll ask you for specifics, like the name and address of the employer and when you worked there.
It may take a few weeks, so the sooner you get the process started, the safer your finances will be.
5. Evaluate Your Budget
How long can you feasibly afford to go without employment?
Analyze your budget to find out.
First, start by totaling up your current on-hand assets.
What’s in your checking and savings? Are you getting any severance pay?
Now that you have that total, make a list of your essential monthly expenses. Include your mortgage or rent, utilities, and basic food costs.
Then, make another column with extra expenses like credit card bills. Anything that you can be late on without it impacting your life goes in the second column.
If you took out insurance on any of the bills, call the company and let them know you’re currently unemployed. They’ll defer the payments and interest.
Review both of your lists and figure out where you can cut back until you have an income again.
6. Check-In With Your Network
It’s okay to reach out to your network and ask them if they know of any openings.
While you’re letting them know the basics of why you’re on the hunt for a new job, don’t go into too many details. Be especially careful not to wallow in self-pity or talk badly about your previous employer.
Complaining about how horrible your ex-boss was will make you look less than stellar, too. It’s one thing to rant to your BFF, who won’t tell a soul or judge you. But a random acquaintance could know someone who knows someone, and word gets around.
Try to keep the conversation positive. It shows you in a better light, and you’ll be more likely to get recommendations.
7. Stay Connected to the World
The last thing you want to do is become the cliche of the person who gets fired and becomes a couch potato.
Do whatever it takes to stay connected to the outside world. Yes, you can stay at home as you complete your job searches. However, even when you don’t feel like it, say yes to social events and gatherings — unless they’re outside your budget.
Text or call friends and family when you’re feeling low. If you’re on the self-pity train, catch it early, before it leaves the station, and jump off!
You’ll have a new job soon, unless you disconnect from the world entirely.
When you lose your job, there’s a lot of emotional baggage that comes with it.
Fear, embarrassment, shame, and anger are all normal reactions. But with these tips, you won’t have time to wallow in them. Your search for a new, better job has begun!
Brittany is the Assistant Property Manager at Atrio and a Senior Marketing Ambassador with Marquette Management. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations from Illinois State University and just moved to the city from the northern burbs. She enjoys exploring local restaurants and shops and taking her dog, Lady, for walks by the lake. Brittany has worked at four different Marquette communities and is excited to meet her new neighbors in the IMD.