Have You Lost Your Job?
By Jim Gibson
Jim Gibson is a recruiter with Gibson Consultants of Wilmington, NC.
I remember the first time I lost my job. It was terrifying. I was the sole breadwinner, with three small children and a mortgage.
If you’ve recently lost your job, I know how you feel and I hope the tips below will help.
In the days following my job loss, my emotions followed the usual course: surprise, hurt, anger, acceptance, and finally determination. That is, determination to find another job, a good one, one that would allow me to feel good about myself again. Although I had convinced myself that I was mentally tough, my ego was bruised – badly.
The days seemed like weeks and the weeks like months, but ultimately I got a better job, and it didn’t really take that long.
Then I became a recruiter and saw many others enjoy the same good fortune after enduring the pain and anxiety of a job loss. Not all, but many.
This includes 2008 – 2010, when a global economic collapse had many fearing another Great Depression.
People at all levels and in all industries were losing jobs. Companies were folding, retirement accounts were being depleted, and housing values were falling, for many their largest source of equity.
Financially healthy companies were laying off tens of thousands in anticipation of a recession. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! Of course, the media were piling on, fanning the flames of fear and misery.
It was maddening, and a hard time to be optimistic.
Yet, it ended. People found jobs and many were thrilled about where they ended up.
There are differences between then and now, but there are also similarities. We feel the weight of uncertainty, but we also believe this too shall pass. I do, and I believe many will end up in better positions.
It’s hard to account for why some people land on their feet more quickly than others, but you can improve your odds by keeping the following in mind.
- Self-agency. This is listed first because it’s the most important. You must believe that you have the power to improve the current situation.
- Clear your head. A mental transition from having a job to looking for a job takes a little time. It’s critical to decompress, find enjoyable distractions, spend time with loved ones, and get negative feelings under control before beginning a job search.
- Goal of two. Have a goal of choosing between two good job offers. This eases the pain if a prospective job opportunity disappears. It also can shorten the search by suppressing the temptation to go easy while the “sure thing” plays out … or doesn’t.
- View it as a job. A job search is a job. It’s good to clear the head, but when the search starts, it is your full-time job.
- Start with your brand. A career is usually the result of opportunities presented and accepted, not intentional paths. Being unemployed is a chance to change that by thinking carefully about what you enjoy and are good at, and what you don’t enjoy and don’t do well.
- Perhaps a couple of options. You may know what your next job will look like, or you may have the flexibility to do either of a couple of things (e.g., operations or a client-facing role, remaining in a hospital or joining a health plan.) More than one option requires different versions of your resume, cover letter, etc.
- Don’t rely on recruiters. Approaching recruiters is an inefficient approach. Most work on a limited number of open positions, so it’s hit-or-miss.
- Two-pronged approach. After identifying your ideal role(s), work your network and contact employers.
- Your network. This shows the value of your LinkedIn network. It’s also a great time to make new connections. Remember to spoon-feed connections with specifics about desired roles, organizations, etc.
- Employers. Build a comprehensive list of potential employers and hiring managers. Corporate websites and LinkedIn are good starting points, as are trade group sites (HIMSS, AHIP, etc.) If targeting vendors, the exhibitor page of the annual convention site is a gold mine.
- Don’t apply to job listings. Some will disagree, but I find this to be a colossal waste of time. People do get jobs this way, but it’s a low percentage activity. It’s so easy for people to apply that the number of applicants can be staggering. Even the perfect candidate’s application may get buried and never seen.
- A numbers game. This is a numbers game. Think 150-200 targets, not 20-25.
- Get organized. Developing a system for staying organized is essential. It allows for a methodical approach to managing a high volume of contacts.
- Physical activity. A job search is intense. Incorporating a regular regimen of physical activity will help periodically clear the mind in order to stay strong and on top of your game.
- Only one job is needed. This is a good thing to remember, especially as opportunities progress slowly and sometimes disappear.
- Expect to be ghosted. Anyone who has looked for a job knows that the most agonizing part is waiting while the other party remains silent and inaccessible. Expecting this, while pursuing other opportunities, eases the strain a bit.
- Don’t take it personally. Sometimes conversations stop abruptly or jobs mysteriously disappear without an explanation. It’s often because of events beyond your control. Don’t beat yourself up over this.
- Some days it will just plain stink These days need to be kept to a minimum, but they will happen. Shutting down the computer and taking the afternoon off is sometimes the smartest move.
- This is your career, but it’s not you. As difficult as it may be at times, you must try to keep your self-esteem intact. Looking around at your loved ones and surroundings can reinforce a sense of gratitude and perspective.
Finally, even though difficult in more ways than one, this can be a fulfilling challenge. After all, you’re selling the most irresistible product around – you!