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By: Helios on April 11th, 2014

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Best Ways to Handle a Job Loss

mh900056128It happens.  It has happened to many people.  It happened to me.  During the height of the recent recession, my role was eliminated and I found myself departing from the company where I had spent 13 years.

Without question, this is one of the most stressful situations a person can endure.  But, believe or not, life does go on.  I realize however, that in the first few days, weeks or months of this type of event, it does not feel that way.

I went through a process similar to a grieving process—denial, anger, guilt and finally acceptance.  Everyone handles this type of situation differently.  But the most important part of how you deal with your job loss is that you eventually move on and find a way to enjoy life (both personally and professionally) again.

So, what do you do when this happens to you?

1. Take good care of yourself.  Make sure you are eating right, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, getting physical activity and that you spend quality time with friends and family who are supportive of you.

2. If you have the luxury of any severance pay—it goes fast.  Be cautious about spending this or taking an extended amount of time off.

3. As soon as you are ready, get yourself back out there.

4. Take time to update your resume.  You will want to tailor your resume almost each time you apply to a job—no longer can you create a single resume that will work for all roles to which you apply.

5. Update your social media profiles—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Let your network know that you are seeking a new role and state what type of role you are seeking.   Be sure to highlight your skills and experience as well as accomplishments on your social media profiles.

6. Prepare an “elevator pitch” where in 30 to 45 seconds you summarize your talent and the value you bring to an organization.

7. Start networking with as many people as you can.  Let them know you are actively searching for a new role.  Seek opportunities to attend meetings with professional colleagues. Many organizations will offer reduced or even free admission for those in transition.  Project SAVE is an example of an organization in Northern Virginia that allows individuals who are in transition to deliver an elevator pitch, hand out their resume and network with employers (and these meetings are free for all).

8. Consider making a choice that you may not have considered under other circumstances.  For me, that meant launching my own HR and Recruiting consulting practice.  For you, maybe it is going back to school to complete your degree or obtain a professional certification.

9. READ READ READ.  Read as many articles, blogs and books that you can about your career field.  Make sure you stay up to date on the latest trends and changes in your field.

10. Finally, make sure that you give yourself a break in your job search.  Looking for a job can be a discouraging process with many disappointments.   Build in opportunities to have FUN (you can do this even on a tight budget).  We have so many places to visit that are free—parks, museums, etc.  Go to a discount movie—preferably a comedy.  It is good to laugh again.

Most people in their lifetimes will experience a job loss.  There is no shame in this happening to you.  And things do eventually get better.  It just takes time.