Losing your job has got to be one of the most terrible things any of us can go through and when it happened to a friend of mine I wondered how she would cope.
I would characterise her as a hardworking, well organised, tenacious go-getter. And she did well, working at the head office of a national chain of supermarkets for almost ten years.
Joining the company straight from college, she had worked her way up. Showing a lot of hard work and determination. She never dreamed that she would fall prey to job cuts as a result of significant streamlining.
Losing her job happened not long after she had her two children. It would have been easy to crumble. Many people in that position would have. But not her.
She picked herself up, dusted herself down and managed to get a job for a global mobile phone company.
Staff Streamlining Process
She had happily worked there for 18 months. In that time, she rebuilt her confidence and got her work-life balance to a comfortable place when it struck again. The business world dealt her another crappy hand.
Another staff streamlining process saw her out the door. Last in first out!
This came as a massive blow. And understandably she started to feel bitter. Why me? What have I done wrong? What have I done to deserve this?
These questions, along with the answers she supplied herself had a detrimental effect on her confidence. She started to harbour negative thoughts. I’m no good at what I do. I’m unemployable.
Everyone around her could see that she was the victim of circumstance. And she was eminently employable but having experienced the rejection she found it hard to see that.
After a lot of soul-searching and several months, she changed direction. She decided that she would look for employment that would suit her family life better.
Light at the end of the tunnel
She found a job, working as maternity cover at the local council offices. This enabled her to work fewer hours, do some of the school runs and be around more for her children.
Life settled down and returned to a comforting sense of normality. The prospects of getting a permanent job with the council were looking good.
She was a capable, hardworking person who had experience beyond her job role and her bosses seemed to want her around.
Two new job roles were advertised, and she was strongly advised to apply for them. So she did.
She was hopeful. The dark cloud she had been under for so long was lifting. She started to believe in herself again. Had life’s cruelty finally overlooked her?
After the interview process, many days were spent waiting. Then she was told that the roles had been offered to other, permanent, members of staff within the council structure. She was overqualified for both positions.
Her resilience was shattered. She spiralled down. And this affected many aspects of her life. It almost ended her marriage.
It was painful to watch. And often I would ask myself, “How I would have coped?”
I can’t guarantee with that much family pressure that I would have done as well as she did.
Logically, we all know that we need to take the bull by the horns and get back out there. But that pit of depression is seductive and pulls us in.
The secrets to picking yourself up after losing your job
Here are ten ways to help you pick yourself up after losing your job. You might like the other pieces on resilience as well.
Make sure you are happy with your career choice
This is a great time to consider your career choice, using logic and not just emotion. Consider the growth in your sector and availability of jobs in your field in your specific area. And then, ask yourself if this is what you still want to do? If you do, outstanding!
However, for some people losing their job is an excellent time to evaluate their career choice or even to pursue a dream job in a field they have wanted to move into for some time. Do we sometimes stay put because it’s safe? This could be the time to make that change.
Treat finding a job as a job
In his book, Stephen Covey talks about being proactive as one of the habits of highly effective people. Being proactive. Take responsibility for your life. Who better to find you a job than you? Focus your time and energy on finding that new role – you are in control. What happens if you don’t? How likely is it that a job will just ‘fall into your lap’?
However, that doesn’t mean working on it every waking hour. Sometimes, taking a short break helps us to recharge. Only take a break if it is affordable and ensure you set a ‘return date’. It is easy to fall out of a routine but a structured approach will make the job search more fruitful and will keep morale up.
Write up a plan of what you will do each day or week and stick to it. Review the plan every few days so that you can remind yourself of what you have achieved. No matter how big or how small the achievement, it will boost confidence and keep you focused.
One of the most important things to do when searching for a new job is to stay positive. Any negative thoughts or attitude can put off a potential employer. As tough as it can be to stay positive, you must. Remind yourself of your strengths and get those around you to remind you of them, if you are feeling low.
Emotions can be contagious and surrounding yourself with positive people will lift you. Read an inspirational book or watch an inspirational film. Remember, staying positive is a skill in itself!
Identify Your Strengths
Create a list of all your strengths. And ask for help from those around you if you are struggling to find all your good points.
Once identified, you can apply for openings which let your full skill set to be utilised.
Most of us are stronger in areas we enjoy so applying for jobs in the right industry is likely to see us progress further and there is so much to be said for enjoying what you do. As the saying goes ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’!
Once you have been given a job description for any roles you are interested in, tailor your skills to the specification and tell the interviewer how these will bring more to the position.
As you now have time, it is also an excellent time to add to your skill set. While you are searching for that perfect job, enrol on a course or even sign up for some voluntary work that can build on your current strengths and your confidence. You never know who you might end up talking to. Oh, for this reason always keep business cards handy!
Build Rapport With Potential Employers
Start by putting something on your application that stands out. Show you have a sense of humour and you may have things in common with employers. Social media is a useful tool in finding out about someone’s hobbies, likes or dislikes, and you can use this to your advantage.
However, always remember that if you can use social media to find out about a potential employer, then they can use it to find out about you. Do you want them to see what others can see?
Continue To Network
Keep in contact with friends, family and colleagues. There is much more chance of hearing of a role through a connection than ‘if you fall off the grid’. Keep in contact with previous clients or customers, if your last job allows as this could also lead to an opening.
Don’t let people forget you. Network in unlikely places too. For example, your hairdresser will see people from all walks of life. Tell them your story and see if they know anyone who might help. Remember, it’s not always what you know but who you know, that can be useful.
Do Something For Someone Else
Whether you help an elderly neighbour to get their cat out of a tree or you go and volunteer at a local homeless shelter, doing something good for someone produces feel-good chemicals in our brain. The person you help will appreciate you, and it will give you a break from thinking about your problem. A win-win situation.
Oh, and you never know who you could meet!
Look after yourself
After losing a job, the easy thing to do would be to sit on the sofa and watch daytime TV all day. Feeling sorry for yourself is more natural than dusting yourself down and taking control. But does this help? NO!
Use This Time To ‘Sharpen The Saw’
If you weren’t doing this already, this is the perfect time to preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have – YOU!
Some think this means to take a holiday, feel refreshed and then come back to do the same thing the same way. But wouldn’t that just be putting the saw down, giving it a rest and coming back to the blunt blade you left in the first place?
To sharpen it you need to refresh yourself so that you can handle the challenges around you, the best you can: exercise, read, learn something new, spend time outdoors, meditate.
We may claim that we don’t have time for all of this but when is a better time to start adding some of these things to your life? You don’t need to pay out for the gym or even invest in a fitness tracker to wear on your wrist.
Walk to the shop for a newspaper, take the dog for a walk, take a stroll on the beach or do some gardening. Some studies have shown that exercise can help build resilience, leaving us with a stronger immunity to stress.
Read To Sharpen The Saw
Reading just a few chapters of a book a day can either help you to learn something new, reinforce good ideas or just be plain escapism. All will help to revive the brain and help with the ‘sharpening process’. Learning something new will also add another string to your bow or at least be a talking point in your search for work.
Spending time outdoors is an excellent time to spend time with family or even to meet an old contact or colleague and go for a game of squash or maybe a run. Surrounding yourself with positive people is essential.
These things make us better able to tackle the more physically and emotionally stressful points in our life, and there are usually plenty of them. Revive yourself and get rid of any negative emotions. You will be ready for anything!
What makes YOU different?
My unlucky but resilient friend went on to begin a training course to become a midwife. She took a short break in the middle to move to the north of the country with her family. Her marriage survived, and the family are happy in their new life.
She used a considerable amount of energy and belief to shrug off the negativity that would have engulfed many of us. Not only that but she finally decided to pursue a career that lay a million miles away from what she was familiar with, from her comfort zone.
She never chose the option of sinking into the depths of self-pity though she did flirt with it. By accepting the situation and taking action, she ensured she could hold on to all that was dear to her. Perfect!
No one likes to lose their job but what sets you apart is how you deal with the news. You can spend your time thinking what could have been or decide ‘I will pick myself up’ and take action.
Resilience is one of the greatest skills we can develop.