“We are reorganizing and unfortunately, we have to let you go.”
“We truly appreciate everything you have done for our company, but it is time for us to go a different direction.”
No matter how it is presented to you, you hear: you’re fired. Shortly thereafter, a sinking feeling happens in your gut—much worse than dropping an ice cream cone on a blistering summer day or forgetting to write that mortgage check for the month.
Finances and family flock to the forefront of your vision, and then self-doubt creeps into your frame of thought. It clutters the frame with words like “failure” and “irresponsible,” clouding your ability to see the bigger picture: you are still you and you are still valuable.
Oftentimes, we allow ourselves to consider the negative before we begin tallying the positives. For instance, the word “unemployed” usually takes on a negative connotation, like lazy or undedicated. According to Merriam-Webster.com, the top definition of unemployed (adj.) is “not being used.” Quite literally, your talents are not being used. That is all. You are still responsible. You have still enjoyed success. Your hard work was not all for naught.
If you find yourself unemployed, you must set your focus on yourself: What can I do? What should I do? Here are my top five answers to those questions—
1. Forgive Yourself & the Company for Your Job Loss
The most important thing you can do is to forgive yourself. This is undoubtedly one of the hardest tasks because your mind is already saying, “I should have…” and “I wish I…” Learn from this experience and then leave it behind you. It is important to view this time as an option to create a new opportunity. Additionally, you must forgive your company. Yes—the ones who just let you go. This forgiveness is within and will give you peace as you set your sites onto greener pastures because numerous businesses out there are seeking a professional like you.
2. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Whether you were employed for 20 years or two years, job loss can feel like a sudden, traumatic experience. It is of the utmost importance that you surround yourself with positivity, beginning with the people in your inner most circle of friends or family. These people will be your rock…your source of sanity and strength in between your job search. Be there for them just as much as you need them to be there for you.
3. Dedicate Yourself to Practicing a Growth Mindset
Job searching for eight hours a day is unhealthy. Build a daily schedule that includes time for you to focus on yourself. Stanford University’s Dr. Carol Dweck wrote an incredible book titled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It enlightens readers about two mindsets, the fixed mindset (the inability to see the future past current barriers) and the growth mindset (the ability to create a future despite barriers or a clear path), and then educates readers about how to practice the growth mindset throughout their business, home and educational lives. This book is a game-changer. You can purchase it here. (Dweck, 24 & 25.)
4. Stay Focused on the “Now”
One of the biggest mistakes I notice as a Recruiter and Human Resources Generalist turned Job Search Facilitator and Employability Skills Instructor is that the vast majority of professionals or post-graduates do not invest in their continued self-education and volunteer opportunities outside of the workplace. Self-education, such as completing a Microsoft Excel course through GroupOn or Lynda.com, and volunteering once a month (or more while you have time!) for a cause that matters to you not only creates a feeling of accomplishment, but also creates professional interest in you—what diverse knowledge you could bring to the next business.
5. Use Your Resources
Make a list of your current employment resources. This list can range from Facebook and LinkedIn to local professional groups and networking events. Humility is key in this process. Network with recruiters, reach out to LinkedIn Learning content creators and research your desired industry. If you have yet to join LinkedIn, now is the time to join the 500 million users worldwide—and it’s free. There are also resources available to you through your state which can be found on the United States Department of Labor website.
Always remember: Do not allow your job loss to consume you or dictate your future. Opportunity is not about waiting for the right time, it is about creating it on your own time. You are not alone in this journey.