You’ve Lost Your Job—Now What?

Caitlin Wiles
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The worst has happened: you’ve lost your job. You’re upset, confused, scared, angry, and everything in-between. Maybe you saw it coming, or perhaps it snuck up on you. Whether you’ve been working there for five years or five months, losing your job can be heartbreaking. But the ground did not crack open and swallow you up. Fire did not rain upon the Earth. The sun did not shatter in the sky. Losing your job is awful, but it’s not the end of the world.

Here are the first five steps you should take after losing your job to make your recovery as smooth as possible:

1. Process what happened.
No matter what the situation was, a job loss is still a loss. Take a day or two to focus on you and what you need to feel better. Eat some ice cream. Go for a run. Binge-watch all the TV you missed while you were working. And, perhaps most importantly, tell your friends and family what happened. It can be incredibly awkward, yes. But it would be more awkward to have to correct them later. Telling your friends and family allows them to be there for you when you need it most.

2.  Plan your next moves.
Now is the time to get your thinking hat on. You need to sit down and come up with a budget and plan moving forward. If you have enough savings, budget how long they will last you, where you can cut back, and so on. Depending on your situation, you may need to file for federal unemployment benefits or other government assistance programs. Finally, make a step-by-step plan for getting back into the job market. You’re here, reading this article, so you must be thinking about what comes next—good job!

3. Reflect on your old job.
Before you can put yourself back into the world of job applications, you will want to think about what you’ve learned from the job you just lost. No matter the cause of your unemployment, you can still learn from the experience. Think about your performance—how would you like to do things differently? Also, think about the job itself—what did you like about it? What do you wish you could have changed? Reflecting will help you tailor your new job search. 

4. Brush up your resume.
Chances are, you haven’t looked at your resume in a hot minute. Now is the time to pull it out and blow the dust off of it. See if there is any room for improvement. At the very least, you need to add your old job to it. It’s also likely you’ve gained new skills or qualifications you might want to add. Always double-check your contact information, as well; there’s nothing worse than submitting your resume only to realize you’ve changed your phone number and don’t have access to that e-mail anymore.

5. Put yourself out there again—start applying for a new job.
The time has come to take the plunge. Despite everything you’ve been through over the past couple of days/weeks/months, you are now ready to apply for a new job. Make sure to tailor your job search to what you need, considering any new preferences you gained after your last position. Be diligent! Check in on your applications often. Finally, be confident. You are amazing. You’ve got this.


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Jon B - thank you - couldn't have said it better. If you treat the job search as a Job itself, amazing things can happen! @Dawn S - all you can do is keep on keeping on. Keep sending out your resume. Keep following up. Question - when you look at the same type of job posted by different companies - are you seeing that they are asking for the same thing? Are their any specific courses that you could take that would show that you are up-to-date on your skills? For instance - if you were seeking a position as an admin asst - you might take course in Microsoft Word or Excel or both. I know it's hard to move on. Been there and done that several times. Just keep searching and applying. That perfect job will come!

  • Dawn S
    Dawn S

    @Nancy, yes I have been I went to at least 10 agencies and applied directly. I’ve gotten hundreds of scam jobs. I’ve only gotten temp work. Being 48 I have major experience but it seems all anyone wants is a degree. And those people I’m up against don’t even know a tenth of what I do. I just keep going back to how much I loved my job. Nothing else seems to compare. It’s happened twice before but I was able to move on easy. Maybe cause I’m older or I just thought I had a awesome job that I enjoyed so much.

  • Jon B.
    Jon B.

    Timing is everything in the job search world. You must stay at it every day. If you aren't applying for 6 - 12 jobs a day, you aren't working at it enough. I resigned from a great position back in June of last year. New management was brought on board and we were not on the same page. I immediately started my search and finally, I landed a new role with some great opportunities ahead. By the way, I am 65 years old but I didn't let that stop me. All good advice from Nancy. If you are looking, the right opportunity will come your way. Remember, timing is everything in the job search world!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Dawn S. thanks for your comment. So sorry about your job. Since you have been laid off, have you been applying for new jobs? Are you getting any interviews? Did you follow the steps laid out in this article? All you can do is pick yourself up and move on. I have been in your shoes more times than I like to think about. I would try to imagine that a good friend had passed away. I would grieve for awhile but then life moves on. So brush off your resume and get it updated and start putting yourself out there. Network any chance you get. Let family and friends know that you are in the job market. Get on your social media accounts and job search. Spend the time each day doing searches and submitting your resume. Things will turn around.

  • Dawn S
    Dawn S

    It’s been 7 months, how do you get past it?

  • Robert M.
    Robert M.

    Yea was just laid off on the 27th , all good advice.

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    Do what I do. Keep plugging away. I've filled out so many applications and updated my resume lots of time. It's a lot of work and takes some time before you get that interview. It's harder when you get older(I'm 60 and am having a hard time finding something), but I still keep at it. There are assessment test on Indeed that you can take that may help you find something.


    Thank you very much for your nice advice and suggestions.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Kevin P. thanks for your comment. People so do fear having to write a new resume and I believe it's because we have never learned to brag about ourselves. A simple resume starts with your contact info at the top followed by a Career Summary, Skills and then you Professional Experience - starting with the most recent position and working backwards and then follow that with your education and any other pertinent information you feel the hiring manager needs. Most resumes are only a page long - two at the most. There are tons of articles on the Internet that can help to guide you along. We also offer a resume service should you be interested. Information for that is on your account. Hope this helps!

  • Kevin P.
    Kevin P.

    No idea how to make a decent resume

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