There’s no other way to put it: losing your job is difficult on a number of different levels. It can rattle your confidence and induce anxiety and depression. It messes with your routine; your days are no longer built around your typical work hours, and instead of basking in all that glorious “free time,” you wind up squandering it because you don’t know what to do with yourself.

The Muse has a great step-by-step article on what to do each day following the day you lost your job. The author, Nathan Tanner, details that finding someone to talk to, as well as doing some personal reflection are among the first things someone should do when they lose their job. He also mentions that you may want to take steps to file for unemployment (Career One Stop has a tool that allows you to filter by state to see how to file for unemployment). Tanner leaves off on Day 3, advising people to update their resume because, inevitably, you’ll need to find a way of sustaining yourself in the near future.

In this article, we’ll pick up where Tanner leaves off, with the positive steps you can take to get yourself back in the workforce as soon as possible and as soon as you’re ready. Before embarking on this journey, however, we can’t stress enough how important it is to take a few days off to reflect on the situation, figure out how you feel about it, and confide in a close friend who will be emotionally supportive of you and offer advice if you need it. Once you feel calm and collected and ready to start something new, there are several things you can do to get your career on track again.

The most important thing to do when you lose your job—after taking care of your wellbeing—is to figure out how best to manage and take advantage of this free time you now have. Now that you aren’t buried in work from your previous job, you’ve got some time on your hands. Think of how many times over the last years you’ve thought to yourself, “If I only had the time I would [make new business cards / update my resume / go to this skill-related event to develop my skills.” Well, now is the time to do all those things that you never had or made time for when you were employed.

1) Update your resume

You can start by setting aside a few hours over the course of two or three days to get your resume in shape. Take the time to edit previous work experiences and job descriptions to make sure they really reflect who you are and where you come from professionally. We’ve written in the past about injecting more personality into your resume and phrases that will kill your resume. Now is the time to go through your resume with a fine tooth comb and make it perfect.

2) Get your networking game on

Once you’ve got your resume looking its best, it’s time to start putting yourself out there and meeting new people in the professional world. Make some glossy new business cards and try to find some nearby networking events in your field. Networking can really take place in just about any social situation. You never know who you’ll meet or be introduced to. Alternatively, you almost certainly will be able to find a networking event near you in your field. These days it’s easier than ever to connect with people professionally, once you start looking for events geared specifically towards networking, you’ll realize just how many people share the same desire to reach out to fellow colleagues in their field. This article by Bradley Will details “10 Websites to Find the Best Local Business Networking Events” and this one on JobMob details some helpful tools for finding networking events near you.

3) Write to people on LinkedIn

If you’re not the type to send emails and messages out of the blue, contacting people you don’t know and who you’re not connected to on LinkedIn may seem like a daunting, if not far-fetched, task. However, you may be surprised to find how many people are willing to talk to you. To start out you can check out some tips on “How to Write LinkedIn Messages that Actually Get Read.” You can reach out to people you admire or those who work at organizations you may be interested in working for. Another great place to start is with your alumni network. Find people who share your alma mater and who are in your field. Reach out to them and see if you can meet them informationally. Remember that people do not get to where they are professionally without the help of those who surround them. Even if you’ve never met the person, they may be more than willing to help you out by informing you of open positions or putting in a good word when you apply, for the simple reason that they’re paying it forward. Perhaps their lucky break came when they were in a similar situation and someone helped them out. The bottom line is that you never know what will happen when you connect with someone. The worst that could happen is they’ll ignore your message or will tell you they can’t help you. But they just might be willing to share information, positions, or advice. You won’t know unless you try.

4) Apply for jobs

Once you’ve got your resume updated and you begin networking and making connections, opportunities will begin to arise. Think deeply about what aspects of your job you would like to change or improve for your next career move. Losing your previous job doesn’t have to be all bad. It can also be an opportunity to redirect your career toward a professional path on which you’ll be more satisfied and successful. Do your research and open those doors for yourself. Check out our tips for How to Get a Job in 2017 and How to find your Dream Job.


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