I Lost My Job. Help! What Should I Do Next?

Losing your job can feel like a huge setback. You might feel embarrassed about your job loss, scared about what’s next, or worried about upcoming bills. It’s normal to feel mixed emotions about losing your job. The important thing to remember is that sometimes “setbacks” are really redirections in a better area. If you’re currently worried about how you lost your job, this article will help guide you through your next steps, so you end up somewhere better (and happier).

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I lost my job. What should I do next?

1. Assess your severance package

When you lose your job, the first thing you should do is assess your severance package. For instance, if you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you might speak with an employment lawyer before signing the severance package. However, if you’ve been part of a company layoff, you might decide to look over your severance package. You can even push to negotiate a better severance package with your employer if you wanted to. Getting a better deal might not be possible but it doesn’t hurt to try. If you’re given severance pay, that means you lost your job through no fault of your own. So, you weren’t fired, you were simply laid off. This can still be kind of difficult to go through, but potential employers will look at your termination more favorably if it was only a layoff rather than a firing. If you were fired, you should be upfront about what happened if asked or you can decide to remove the job from your resume.

2. Organize your finances

If given a severance package, you’ll want to space out your earnings to last you a few months. You should take some time to complete some budgeting to ensure you don’t run out of money and that you have enough to meet your family’s basic needs. Being strict with your finances will be necessary, so you can put yourself in a good financial position in case the job search goes longer than expected. You can use a free budget spreadsheet online or create your own to know exactly what you’ll be spending money on and how much. If you didn’t get a severance package, you might need to dip into savings to be able to manage your finances. If you don’t have savings, you’ll need to find temporary or part-time work to build up your runway while looking for the right job. If in a relationship, you might have your partner chip in more financially to help better manage the cost of maintaining your home and expenses.

3. Apply for employment insurance

Most people will need to apply for employment insurance after a layoff. Doing so quickly after your termination will allow you to collect a paycheck while embarking on your job search. You won’t be paid the full amount of your salary but you will earn some money to help you keep things afloat while searching for your next big opportunity. Keep in mind that if you have a side hustle earning you income or you decide to do some freelance work instead you shouldn’t collect employment insurance as you might need to pay that income back. You would only collect it if you lost your job and have no other sources of income coming in. Speaking with an employment insurance office about how much you can earn from passive income while earning employment insurance will help prevent you from having issues down the road. If you’re not planning to pick up other opportunities, employment insurance will be helpful as a runway as you search. The office could also help you find relevant listings or give job tips to help you as you look for your next role.

4. Update your resume

When you’ve lost your job, it’s time to update your resume. You’ll add your last role to your resume, highlighting some of your biggest accomplishments. You might tailor your resume for a specific job you apply to. If so, you could use Huntr’s AI, which will give you a score on how closely related your resume is to a job posting and give you suggestions on how to better tailor your resume for a specific job. Your resume can be tweaked and optimized as you go through the interview process. If you notice you aren’t getting a ton of interviews from your resume, you can change the layout, add some different qualifications, and better tailor your resume. If you get stuck talking about a specific experience during interviews, you might remove a bullet point about it from your resume.

5. Update your LinkedIn

Losing your job requires you to put yourself out there. A good place to do that is LinkedIn. You can update your LinkedIn to show all your work experience. Writing a post about your layoff could get some engagement from friends and colleagues, which could help get more recruiters eyeballs to notice your profile if they’re actively searching for roles. This works well when a company announces a mass layoff, and companies want to poach employees from that company. However, if you feel like your layoff might not get the engagement you want, you optimize your profile so that when applying to jobs on LinkedIn, your profile seems attractive to people hiring for that role. You might add an Open to Work badge to your profile picture as it tells recruiters that you’re actively searching for a new position.

6. Start looking for a role right away

When going through job loss, you shouldn’t procrastinate on looking for roles. Most people will tell you to take a break after a layoff to emotionally heal. This is terrible advice. If you actually look at what happens is that you create a further gap between your last role and your current role. As much as you might feel like you need a break, having a gap on a resume does get judged by recruiters. Even if you believe they shouldn’t have a gap bias. They usually do. So, the same week you lose your job, you should start job hunting right away. At least get the ball rolling so you can attract early success. You might land your new role within a month or two, so that you never have a gap, which makes you more likely to get hired. If you wait a few months or wait until your severance runs out, you’ll end up looking for a longer time. Some people who wait too long after a job loss to start searching for work end up completely running out of their money. That’s a situation that isn’t worth the risk. If part of you feels like you need a break, ask for a two week break before starting once you have an offer in hand.

7. Invest in growing some new skills

When you’ve lost your job, you might use this time to add some new skills or certifications to your resume. You could join a bootcamp to learn a new skill fast. Or you could invest in a training program to upskill your current skill set. Adding new and relevant skills to your resume will make you appear more attractive as a candidate. It shows that you’re invested in learning and developing yourself, even if you’ve been in a role for years. You can also attend conferences, workshops, or watch videos online to educate yourself and build out your skill set further. You could choose complementary skills. For example, if you’re a data scientist who uses Python to scrape data, you might decide to learn SQL to expand your knowledge base. Or if you’re a content marketer who writes blog posts, you might learn how to create videos online to become a more well-rounded content creator. Expanding your knowledge or gaining credentials in your craft gives you more opportunities you can apply to and more roles you can be considered in.

8. Pick up some freelance gigs or start a side hustle

If you decide to go against the employment insurance route or didn’t get a severance package, you might choose to dabble in some freelance opportunities or side hustles to earn some money and keep your skills active while looking for your next role. Or maybe, you decide this is your path forward. Either way, you can apply to freelance opportunities via job board sites in your craft, you can promote yourself on LinkedIn, or you can do a sales approach of reaching out to businesses to potentially get hired as a client by them. You’ll need to create a rate sheet, website, and slide deck to onboard new clients if freelancing. Whether it’s a freelance business or a side hustle, understand the volatility of earning money passively. You might make a lot of money some months and lose all your clients the next. Money management is possible, but needs to be considered when running a business after losing your job. Having a job is more predictable, but as you know nothing is certain. But don’t over glorify a side hustle because it requires a lot of work and does still have risk involved in the early stages. Either option of going to look for another job or starting an online business can be done after losing a job, but set realistic expectations and come up with a financial plan that takes in an emergency savings account to protect yourself from future setbacks or challenges.

9. Attend some networking events

Losing a job can push you to put yourself out there more and to meet new people. Attending some networking events in your field can be a great way to find a new job. You can interact with people who are working in the same discipline and who may be part of large organizations that are actively hiring. You can ask them for recommendations or employee referrals for when you apply for roles at those companies. You can find events via Facebook events or Google search by searching for your job title and events. Meetup events, workshops, and standard networking events are all great ways to meet new people who work in your field. You’ll want to think of ways you can support or help people when networking so that it feels like a mutually beneficial relationship, especially if you’re asking for help with the job search from a stranger. Instead of asking directly about job opportunities at their company, you might tell them you’re looking for a role and about their job search processes to give you ideas on how you can improve your job hunt.

10. Rehearse for interviews

When you’ve lost your job, you should try rehearsing for interviews even before you’ve lined one up. Consider spending hours rehearsing answers to questions about yourself, culture, and your craft. The more you practice, the less nervous you’ll be. You’ll also seem like a better communicator because you’ve taken the time to rehearse your answers and ideas will flow more naturally to you. It’ll also be less likely that a question will throw you off because you’ll have answered so many during practice that an example will be easier to draw up. As you do more interviews, you’ll be able to better rehearse for more of them while feeling more confident about yourself in them.

11. Hire a mindset coach

If throughout the interview process you find the job search isn’t going well, you might want to hire a coach for a one-time session. You can use a coach to help you boost your confidence and better prepare for interviews despite rejections. But they can also help you establish a routine. Often, when people are unemployed for months, they stop waking up before 9 and their day becomes an unorganized mess. Having structure will keep you mentally sharp and it’ll make the transition back into the 9 to 5 much easier. You can also use a career coach to help you organize your job search better or to give you some pointers. If you only pay for a one-time discussion it shouldn’t dip too much into your savings. But it can be a great way to get yourself on track.

Next steps for job loss

If you’ve lost your job, you can use a tool like Huntr to organize your job search and store all your application documents and job details in one place. You can also use Huntr to build your resume, tailor your resume with the help of AI, auto-fill job applications, and more. Sign up for Huntr today!