I was just laid off! Now What?


A reader writes:

I was just informed that my job will be eliminated. I’ve been working as an administrative professional for the last 15 years. I was able to get this job right out of high school so I’ve been fortunate to have had a job all of these years. But now I’m scared. I don’t have a resume, I have not been on an interview in years, and I don’t even know where to begin with searching for a new job. Can you help?



Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. – Charles R. Swindol


Losing a job is one of the most stressful events many of us face at one point in our careers. It can be tough both financially and emotionally. More than likely, you have to support yourself and family, so it is essential to muster up the self-confidence to throw yourself back into the job market. This is not an easy task! Especially when you are overwhelmed with thoughts of “Why me?,” “What could I have done differently?,” and “What if I can’t find another job?”

This is normal! But, don’t let these unproductive thoughts take over your brain. Remember, you have value and you are still a capable person. The only thing that’s changed is your employment status – for the time being. So instead of wallowing in what happened, think about the new opportunities ahead of you.

Here are a few ideas to get you started down the right path.

Give yourself a mental break.
If you are in panic mode those first couple of days – Stop and take a break. Do something creative or productive that will help you to take your mind off of your current situation. For example, do you like to exercise? Perhaps you enjoy cooking. How about tackling a home project you’ve been putting off? Being physical is a great stress reliever and putting your energy into something productive or creative may help to lift your spirits and ease anxiety.

Do a status check.
Do your job skills need updating? Do you have a resume? If so, is it updated? Do you have a cover letter? Where can you research job opportunities in your field? Are you familiar with job boards? How will you go about networking? Is self-employment, part-time work, or starting your own business a viable option?

As you can see, there is a lot that needs to go into your job search strategy. Taking the time to assess your current status and what you need will give you a good starting point.

Align your support network.
Talk to your significant other, family members, or a good friend that you trust about what happened with your employment situation. Share your feelings and be open to their perspective. Consider ways they can be engaged in your job search process whether it’s reviewing your resume, interviewing practice, or referring job leads. At a later point consider reaching out to your extended network once you feel more prepared with your action plan.


Your job now is to find your next opportunity.
Many clients that I work with are currently unemployed. What I tell each and every single one is that their job is to find a job. For many, this is extremely challenging and more difficult than getting up and going to a “regular job” every day. But keeping this type of focus is essential will allow you to stay on track to achieving your goal.

Establish and take actionable steps.
The foundation of your job search is establishing a plan of action that includes specific objectives, timeframes, and goals.

For example:

  • You will have your resume updated by X date

  • You will research and register for X number of job boards by X date

  • You will attend X number of networking events each month

  • You will establish X number of connections each week

Write it down and stick with it. It is also a great way to keep track of your activity and see your progress.

Maintain your daily schedule.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to maintain a routine as much as possible. If you typically get up at 5:30am and work out each day, then stick with that habit. Losing one aspect of your life does not mean that everything else falls to the wayside. Instead maintain a regular schedule while you search for your next career opportunity.

Resist the urge to talk badly about a former employer.
This may be tempting! And, you may be angry and upset about losing your job. However, speaking negatively about a previous employer is never a good idea. Maintaining your professionalism speaks volumes about your character. Furthermore, you never know when or under what circumstances your paths may cross again.

– Wishing you continued success

Submit your questions to askacareercoach@penntalent.com.

Recommended Readings:
What Color is Your Parachute? 2018 A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers
Knock ‘em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide
50 Ways to Get a Job: An Unconventional Guide to Finding Work on Your Terms

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