Few things in life are more stressful than losing one’s job. Even under the best of circumstances (a planned hiatus, or a layoff with plenty of notice and a generous severance, for example), a job loss can cause numerous struggles for workers. And the longer someone is unemployed, the worse things can feel; it is difficult not to get discouraged after months or years of effort with no results. So for those who are dealing with unexpected unemployment, here are three simple strategies for managing the obstacles and rejoining the workforce as quickly as possible:
Almost 40% of Americans are just one missed paycheck away from poverty. For those millions of people, even a brief stint of unemployment can be financially devastating. One of the best ways to limit the fallout of a job loss is to plan ahead insofar as possible. Set up savings to include enough to cover the economic necessities: mortgage and car payments, food, and other basics. There is no way to be certain of how long it will take to find the perfect new job, so a little extra preparation can go a long way toward ensuring a candidate is financially secure throughout the process -- and that’s one less stressor they will have on their plate!
Network, Network, Network
Remember the old saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know?” There is a lot of truth to this. Of course, what a candidate knows is important -- and having a resume that clearly and concisely reflects their ability to do their job well is a necessary part of a job search. But about two-thirds of executive-level jobs are filled by word-of-mouth referrals and introductions, so one of the best things a job seeker can do is keep their personal and professional contacts up to date. Make a list of existing contacts and call them -- then ask for contacts they know, and call those people. Regular phone calls to potential contacts are a must during any job search.
Joining industry-specific organizations and professional networks is also a great way to meet new people. Always offer to help new and existing contacts in any way possible; remember that a networking partnership is a two-way street. Most people are more than willing to help someone when they know a need exists, so job seekers should communicate clearly about their professional needs and goals. And remember to ask when it would be appropriate to follow up with that contact; common check-in points happen around 30, 60, or 90 days from the initial conversation. Just remember: many candidates will find their next job through someone they currently almost know.
Perhaps more insidious than the obvious financial strain caused by bouts of unemployment, there can also be a significant mental and emotional impact on those who have lost their jobs: some may feel like failures, feel as though their sense of worth has been stripped away, or even begin to question their purpose in life. It’s critical not to let these negative emotions overwhelm the job search process. As with anything else, a difficult job search is all about one’s attitude. Remember that while hard work is important, one’s purpose in life is not defined by their job -- it’s defined by the people in their life who love them, and whom they love. Find the blessings in disguise by spending extra time with loved ones, or committing time to hobbies that get neglected due to a heavy workload. Emotional highs and lows can be very hard not only on the person experiencing the job loss, but also on the people in their lives who want to support them, so working hard to stay even-keeled and keep things in perspective is especially important during such a challenging season of life.
A job search can be overwhelming, especially when it’s unplanned, but there are ways to ensure that the process is manageable -- and even a positive experience! Keep in mind that for the vast majority of people, their careers are their most important financial assets, and a job search (planned or otherwise) is a great opportunity to take an active approach to managing one’s career and making sure that they land in the best possible working environment for their long-term career goals.