Immediately after you’ve been let go, you may find yourself experiencing a range of emotions: panic upon saying goodbye to a regular paycheck, exhilaration as you embrace life without a set routine, rage when you reflect on all the long hours you devoted to your former position—the list goes on. Rather than get caught up in each of these, recognize that they’re all normal.
For the purposes of this article, let’s not use the term “fired” or any of its synonyms. Consider yourself currently “in transition”, “between jobs”, or “actively seeking employment”, to represent your advancement. The following is a painful but crucial to-do list anyone who’s been laid off should follow, based on my experience:
1. Acknowledge your emotions.
You will go through a phase of jumbled emotions. Acknowledge your feelings completely, know they are valid and let them go. You need time to heal and that’s okay. You’re not expected to jump into searching for a new job immediately. Take care of yourself first.
2. Create a budget.
Be responsible about your finances right now. Calculate what you’ve got, your expenses, where you can cut back, and create a budget. Until you’re back on the horse, you will have to regulate your spending.
3. Accept reality and grow from it.
Evaluate your loss and your potential gain. Use this as a learning opportunity. Take a look back and figure out what your weaknesses were, where you could improve and what you could’ve done differently. Assess how you’ve changed since your last job. Maybe you are more qualified to go after a better position or you want different things now. Look at this as a new beginning, in which you are better equipped to go after your goals.
4. Find a mentor.
Reach out to someone who has the kind of success or knowledge you want. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you. This person could be a valuable resource. A good mentor can guide you in the right direction and give you experienced feedback. It’s smart to have a mentor and keep one even when you’re employed.
5. Make a career plan.
Define your long-term goals and short-term goals and work out the steps to getting there. This will make your career plan. If suitable, add time frames for each step. Your mentor can help work this out, and give feedback.
Your career plan should be flexible, not written in stone. Don’t be afraid of trying something that isn’t in the plan. Use it more like a tool to keep yourself focused and organized. A career plan is supposed to be a guideline, not a rule book.
6. Research the job market.
Gauge the current position of the job market. Whether you’re altering your field or not, the job market is ever-changing, and you will need to be updated. Read about the current situation of the industry. Research into the ‘who’ and ‘what’ they’re looking for and the keywords and skills that are important in the positions you are interested in.
7. Develop your skills.
Some abilities you already have could do with refreshing or you might benefit from learning something new. Start some of the online courses you always told yourself you were going to take.
8. Update your resume – and do it right.
See what you can change, reword, and present better in your CV. If you’re interested in multiple positions, consider having multiple CVs. A tailored CV that displays the skills that a certain position requires could give you the upper hand that makes employers take notice when your resume falls on their desk.
9. Network, network, network.
Start putting yourself out there. Reach out to people, talk to friends, go to events that give you a chance to connect with people in the industry and make contacts. Your mentor could also be a good help in this matter by pointing you towards the right events to go to or people to talk to.
The term ‘networking’ is scary to some. But in this age of technology at your fingertips, there are ways to network that even the introvert can get into. Make yourself known. According to a study, over 80% of jobs are found through networking.
10. Keep a positive outlook.
It makes a difference whether you’re approaching this with a defeatist attitude or going into it smiling. You’ve done the work, you’re prepared, you’ve nothing to fear. Go out there and live your best life! Network, connect, learn, explore and hustle until you’re an expert in your field. Who knows, soon you might start mentoring someone yourself.