I was at my previous job for just under 2 years. It was great; my hours were perfect (7 am – 3 pm, I love being an early bird). My office, which had a fully loaded kitchen, was very close to home, AND was also very close to my parents house. I’ve even managed to snag my best friend a job with me within the first week of working there.
I couldn’t complain.
Then one fateful Saturday morning I received a call from work.
Why are they calling me? They never call me on the weekend.
I answer the phone, and hear the dreaded 8 words.
I’m sorry, I have to lay you off.
This hit me pretty hard. I didn’t know what to say. My response was just shock and a simple
“Ok, I understand.”
But then the real shock sets in. I’ve never been laid off before. I have bills to pay. Why did this happen to me and not anyone else at my office?
So, I did what anybody else would have done.
I called my mom crying.
After that, I was still alone in my apartment not knowing where to go from here. So I poured myself a drink to calm down.
The drink didn’t help. It took a very long time for me to even begin to feel like I was getting anywhere with this process. It was long before I could think straight since I was going through the many awful steps of grieving the loss of my job.
So if this sounds like you, or you could use some guidance after becoming unemployed, read on.
6 crucial steps to remember when you were just laid off
1. Be Kind to Yourself
This first one is abso-freaken-lutely the most important step.
It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. When you suddenly become unemployed, your mind goes a million miles a minute with awful thoughts. Why couldn’t I keep my job? Why me? What do I do now? How do I take care of all my bills? My rent? How will I eat? Why can’t I find another job as quickly as I want?
I know, it’s so hard to not feel sorry for yourself in this situation.
Try to remind yourself, you’re not the only one that has gone through this. You aren’t alone, and in one year, you’ll look back on this and say “Hey, I’m actually very glad I went through this tough time. My life is much better today because of it.” I know that’s an extremely distant thought right now, but try.
This happens to the best of us, and it’s ok.
2. Take Time to Re-Brand Yourself
I thought I had my next 5 years planned out. I wanted to keep working full time while I was on a wait list for a program at our local community college. The job I had was flexible with hours, so I’d still be able to work part-time while in the program for another 4 years. But we all know how that turned up.
I know it’s a tough time, but you’re forced into a new fork in the road. You’re now forced to figure out your new future. Do you go the same route you always have? Have you ever wanted to try something new, but didn’t have the courage to start? Now’s definitely your chance.
This was a lot of debating for me. Do I just find side jobs to get by? Do I take this chance to go back to school immediately for a different program? Should I go back into a career in health care administration? We never know when we’ll be faced with this, but it felt very freeing (and overwhelming) that I had so many options for my future.
3. Work on your Resume and Cover Letter & Apply Apply Apply!
This one may be hard if you’ve been out of the job search game for a while.
But the time is now. The sooner you get your applications out, the sooner you’ll get interviews, and the sooner you’ll land a job. Unfortunately, a lot of patience and waiting is involved with trying to grab a new job. Treat this time like you would if you were working; you’d normally be spending 8 hours of your day doing paperwork, serving customers, or whatever it is you do – why not make these 8 hours a day your job to find a job.
So, dust off your most recent resume and use it as a template. Since we are going to take this time to re-brand ourselves, start your resume from scratch but reference your prior resume for your general education and work history. This will also give yourself a fresh feeling! Remember, a resume is where you need to sell yourself and stand out a little. It’s going to be hard, but think of every single wonderful thing someone has said about you, put it into professional words, and then on a brand spankin’ new resume.
If you’re having trouble creating your resume, reach out to a friend, or local career coaches. They have so much valuable information and tools for you to succeed.
I saw to reference your general education and work history, because I want you to come up with new ways to describe and brand yourself. Refer back to Step 2 – Re-Brand Yourself.
Once you’ve completed your resume and cover letters, apply. Apply everywhere. And always follow up after you apply (given the varying waiting times per situation).
Applying for jobs can be extremely daunting, exhausting, and disheartening when you don’t receive any calls back. Or even worse, when you start receiving rejection calls & emails.
It’s okay. There will always be a job for you, you just need to find it.
Just sometimes it may be hard to find.
This is where networking comes in;
- Talk to your friends and ask them if they know anyone hiring, or have heard of any businesses hiring. (Think: six degrees of separation)
- Think about the types of job you prefer, and the companies that have those positions. Check their websites to see if they have any positions posted. If there isn’t anything posted, go directly to the company office with your resume and cover letter in tow, ask to speak to the manager in charge of hiring, and treat this meeting like an on the spot interview.
- Post on Facebook. Literally type in the box where it asks “What’s on your mind?”, type “Hi guys! I’m in search of a job, does anybody have any leads? Please share!” or something along those lines, and click post. BAM – you’ve just reached out to your friends, and your friends’ friends, all in one shot. (I’ve seen a few instances where a tceenager posted on a neighborhood page “High school student looking for a job, please help!” and immediately he received countless replies of job prospects.
- Use a job bank/search. There are so so many right at your fingertips;
You’ve suddenly lost your job, your main course of income.
You’ve set away a rainy day fund.
However, it’s still unknown when you’ll get that new job, it’s unknown when your next pay cheque will be. Could be tomorrow, could be next week, could be months, or even a year.
The future is pretty unknown.
So let’s be smart about this.
Start looking for coupons, sales, and deals for all the necessities you’ll need to purchase. A popular site I like to browse often is Red Flag Deals. They have all your local flyers, list online and in-store deals, and my favorite part is the forums! You’ll learn so much from others deals on top of deals, it’s fantastic.
Take the time to think about how much money you actually have, and how far can you make that stretch. Success takes sacrifice. You’re not going to have to live like this forever, but for now, sacrifices will be made.
Only buy your necessities, and limit eating out.
I know it’s on sale, but do you need that new pair of jeans? Do you really need to eat out for dinner? Again, more sacrifice. Buy your groceries, and make fantastic meals at home!
- An order of fettuccine alfredo at a restaurant might cost you about $13.00 + $4.00 drink + $4.00 tip, that’s $20.00 for ONE meal.
- A package of fettuccine is $2.00, alfredo sauce $2.00, $0.25 for a can of coke (a case of 24 is $6, which works out to $0.25 per can), and that’s it!
- With the second scenario, there is no tip involved! This entire meal cost you roughly $4.25! And not to mention, that is for more than one serving! You’ll have left overs for a few days, or you can afford to have a friend or two over for an easy dinner.
But a big thing to remember when grocery shopping on a budget, make. a. list. and stick to it. I don’t care how tedious it is. It’s essential. It’s a known fact that people tend to buy more at the grocery store when they are hungry. Stick to your list to ensure you don’t buy any extras.
6. Be Selfish
I know you’re probably thinking “What the heck Elaine, that’s not good advice!”
Oh, but it is.
Please do not forget, as much as you may or may not notice, you have taken both a physical and emotional beating during this process. This is where we circle back to Step 1 – Be Kind to Yourself
I know you’re busy browsing job boards, making a million cover letters, (hopefully) going for interviews, while being as frugal as you can – this doesn’t leave much room for play. And all work and no play make Homer something something.
You can still have fun while on this tight budget. Here’s a short list of a few things I did in this process:
- Go for walks
- Called old friends to meet for coffee. I was literally available all the time.
- Do something creative! Use this outlet to help with any stress or anxiety. For myself, I started painting. If that’s not your style, pick up some books from the library/friend, start writing, make music. The possibilities are endless!
There are so many things, but my main point is to please please do not forget to take time for yourself. You should still be your number one. Period.