There are words with the power to conjure the Jaws theme music in workers everywhere – words like unemployment and redundancy. They sound unassuming on their own, but as soon as they enter your life, they change everything.
If this has happened to you, don’t panic. You’re not alone. Others have walked this path before you and now you can learn from them and hopefully this painful moment will become a little more manageable with our advice.
Handle your emotions
You have just received the news, and it’s obviously a terrible moment.
You might want to insult your boss, rage at the universe, cry or do that drastic thing you’ve always dreamt of doing, like throw your laptop out a window. But none of this will help you in the long-term and you’ll just feel worse for it.
Staying on good terms with your employers and co-workers could also come in handy later down the track. So make a clean exit and keep your head high. Don’t be afraid to ask why you’re being made unemployed – if it’s not due to downsizing or cost-cutting, knowing why this action has been taken can help you prepare for future roles.
There’s no point hanging around, reminiscing. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork finalising the end of your employment contract and that your pay is all in order. Find out if you’re entitled to any severance packages or bonuses as this will make the next few weeks a lot easier.
Once you’re sure that’s all sorted, start gathering your things and make a swift exit. You don’t need to say goodbye to every person you ever made small talk with in the kitchen, and the people you’re closest with will understand why you didn’t stick around.
Take some ‘me’ time
Your world’s all out of alignment and it’s only natural to feel a bit panicky, and this is probably a blow to your confidence too. So don’t rush home too immediately to start sending out CVs. You need to take a moment to concentrate on yourself.
This is a good opportunity to reflect on what you actually want. Were you actually happy with what you were doing? Were you thinking of making a move, maybe looking for something with a better salary? Being made unemployed can actually be a blessing in disguise. Another company might just be waiting in the wings, eager to scoop you up! So take a breath, think about what you want and focus on the positives.
No time to regret
No wallowing allowed. Agonising over what could have been or what should have been does not serve any purpose.
Keep in mind that it was more than likely a professional, and not a personal, decision and, in the current economic climate, it’s unfortunately become quite a normal part of life. This is a mental game, so make the shift now and stop thinking of it as something that was forced on you. You left, and now you’ve decided to move on. That’s definitely a good thing.
That said, if you suspect any foul play or feel like it was a wrongful termination, look into the legal ramifications. You need to make a clean break of this so be sure that everything is above board. Also start looking at claiming unemployment benefits, remember you are entitled to them and you still have bills to pay after all!
Prepare a budget to see if you have a little time to come to terms with your situation while still accounting for the job hunt on the horizon, and then allow yourself to have some downtime. Do nothing, spring clean your flat, watch all of Battlestar Galactica or finally read that novel you’ve been meaning to get to. Think of it like restarting your computer after you’ve opened too many tabs in your web browser.
You’re going to need to be positive and full of energy to start wowing your prospective new employers. You can use this time to start preparing a plan of action, you are in control of your life after all and now you can put that vision into action.
Start the search
They say one person’s loss is another person’s gain, now it’s up to you to find that person.
With the time you’ve had for reflecting, you should have some idea of what you actually want from your career now. Write a list of all the companies you’d love to work for, and check their careers pages. You never know!
Get on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and start networking. It’ll help keep you connected and motivated. Staying in touch with your chosen industry and meeting new people can lead to useful hints, valuable tips and much needed encouragement. And, of course, check out totaljobs.com.
Signing up for jobs by email can be a really useful tool to help you manage your applications as you’ll get new jobs you’re interested in delivered straight to your inbox.
Release the CVs
You know all about tailoring your job applications according to the roles you’re applying for, but how do you broach the topic of being let go?
If you were only in the previous role for a short amount of time, it might be better to leave it out of your job history. If you’re questioned about the missing time, talk about the things you’re passionate about and your future plans.
If leaving the job out will lead to a massive time gap that could raise eyebrows, plan ahead for interview time. Put a positive spin on your departure and shift the focus to what you hope for the future.
Remember, being bitter won’t endear you to a prospective employer. Handling your situation with dignity and class can speak volumes about the kind of valuable asset you’d be to any company.
You’re in familiar territory now. You know what you’re looking for, you have prepared a professional CV and you are writing quality cover letters that address the relevant criteria. Good old-fashioned job hunting. Make sure you have a routine, a plan of attack for every day, so you don’t fall into a rut. Don’t get discouraged! The right job is right around the corner.