Job loss can be one of the most traumatic and life changing events anyone has to go through, even for a veteran who’s already seen a lot. The loss of a job means not only the loss of a person’s source of income but the structure of their days. And after being used to the stability of the military it can be particularly hard for a veteran, especially if they already felt that adjusting to civilian life was not the easiest thing in the world. In this post I want to look at at the best ways to make it through the weeks and months after a job loss and remain healthy – both physically and mentally – and ready to take on the challenges of a new job:
Determine Where You Stand After a Job Loss
As soon as you learn that you have lost your job it is important to determine where you stand with the company you are leaving before you do so. If any of the following questions seem to apply to you you should ensure you get the answers to them right away:
Am I being any form of severance pay and if so when can I expect to receive it?
What will now happen to my 401K and pension fund accounts?
Can you clarify once again why I am being laid off?
Will the company be willing to provide a good reference for me in the future?
It can be very difficult to stick around and ask these questions when all you would really rather do is clear out your desk and leave but the answers you receive can impact your upcoming job search.
Allow Yourself Time to Recover
Everyone reacts differently to job loss but for many people the hours and days immediately following are a roller-coaster of emotions, ranging from anger to disbelief to depression. Although you will need to begin a serious job hunt fairly quickly after a job loss if at all possible allow yourself a day or so to regroup and begin to recover.
Use the time wisely though, rather than sitting at home watching television, which will only make you feel worse. Talk to your family and friends who will usually be a great source of comfort. Take the time to catch up with acquaintances you haven’t spoken to in a while (especially those who might be useful for professional networking) and get out of the house and spend time doing some kind of physical activity.
Determine What You Want to Do Next
Before you begin updating your resume and perusing the job ads the first step in your new job hunt should be to determine what you really want to do next in your career. If you have held the same job for sometime you will need to pinpoint exactly what all the skills and strengths are that you have to offer to your next employer, even those that you may not have used for a while.
You will also need to determine if you want to continue along the same career path or use the job loss as a chance to branch into something new. The following self assessment can help you do those things:
Make a list of your past employment, beginning with your most recent job first. Next, identify what you liked most about each of these past positions and what you liked least and note them down:
Past Employment What I liked Most What I liked least
Of those items you entered in the LIKED MOST column, put them in rank order beginning with the item you liked the most as #1, then #2, and so on.
Usually most people find that the things they have listed as liking the most about each job are the things that they are also best at and that these are their best qualities. If you find that the don’t likes are outnumbering the likes by a long way then a career change may be in order.
Next, make a list of what you believe to be the top ten skills you can offer to an employer, and don’t forget to include your military skills if they translate well, as they are just as important as civilian experience.
Once you have determined your list of top ten skills you should now think about all of your notable achievements and accomplishments from your previous employment and life experience. Taking each of them one by one ask yourself the following questions about each of them:
What special skills did I use?
What was it that I did to achieve the final results?
Once you are done pick a top three.
Once you have completed this exercise you will be left with a list of your best skills, what you really like to do and tangible examples of these skills in action you can add to your resume.
During the Job Search
As your job search progresses it will still be easy to fall back into the sad and angry state you were in right after you lost your job, especially if your search does not seem to be producing the right results yet. To avoid this and to keep your job search on track without having it overwhelm you and your life you should make a schedule for each weekday (take weekends off when job hunting so you still have time for all your favorite recreational pursuits) and stick to it as far as possible.
Every schedule will vary according to an individual’s other responsibilities but a good job hunting schedule should include:
Specific wake up and bed times.
Regular exercise and good nutritional plans
Specific hours for researching positions, networking, and job-search related meetings.
Daily excursions to a coffee shop or locations where you will be around other people.
Evening social activities with family and friends to avoid feeling too isolated
Creative time spent on projects, classes, or volunteer work.
To say there will not be days during your job search that you will consider to be very bad ones is unrealistic. Hopefully though by implementing some of these steps you will recover from your job loss and even perhaps come to see it as a blessing in disguise when you have a new job that is a better one than you had before!