If you’ve just lost your job – or are facing that prospect – it’s not unusual for panic to set in. If that happens, you may be in need of some immediate support to help you figure out a game plan. That’s what this extract from Module 1 of my Vital Vocation Online Coaching Programme is all about.
First Aid For Emergency Situations
If you’ve just lost your job unexpectedly, chances are that you’re feeling pretty low. Your first instinct may be to think “why me?”, especially if there are others in your workplace who weren’t similarly affected. Although you may realise that many people look back on unplanned redundancies as useful turning points in life that led them on to bigger and better things, that’s cold comfort if you’re facing the loss of a regular pay cheque and still have commitments to keep.
Consider this section “first aid for fear”, or your “emergency job-loss action plan”. Take a deep breath, sit down with a pen and your Vital Vocation Journal, and start making some notes. In seven steps, you can be back in control. Your immediate new job is to find a new job – go at it with a firm commitment to yourself, as though you were your own boss!
7 Step Emergency Job-Loss Action Plan
1) Don’t panic.
Easy to say, I know, but you’re about to sort out what to do, step-by-step. Take your time over this, and you’ll feel much better at the end of it.
2) Consider your immediate priorities.
For most people, this will relate to their finances. Unless you have a nest-egg which enables you to survive comfortably without work for a few weeks, the chances are you’ll need to maximise your income and minimise your outgoings. Write each of these as a heading in your journal, and start writing ideas under each.
Under maximise your income you might write: “sell stuff on eBay”, “apply for relevant benefits”, “cash-in investments”; under minimise your outgoings you might write: “take a mortgage holiday”; “move into shared accommodation”; “search for budget deals on the Internet”.
For each of the sub-actions you’ve written, make a note of what one thing you need to do next in order to move that action forward, and a date by which you’ll do it. For example, if you want to apply for benefits, but aren’t sure what you’re entitled to (and you’re a UK resident), you may write “phone local Citizens Advice Bureau for information – Monday at 9am”.
If you live in America, you might want to investigate options such as Welfare Programmes and eligibility for Nutrition Assistance. Take your time over this step and try to include as many “next actions” – with deadlines - as possible. You’ll feel much better for knowing you’re doing something practical about your situation.
3) Take a self-inventory
Part of this programme is about making an inventory of your gifts, talents and skills in more detail and much more deeply, but as an immediate action, make a note in your journal of all the immediate skills you have and all the qualities you know you possess which could be attractive to future employers.
Try to stretch your imagination here. Don’t just write down skills you’ve used previously in work. Write down skills you know you have but which you haven’t yet had a chance to use in work. For example – can you drive? You may not have driven as part of your job, but nonetheless, if you’ve passed your driving test, that’s a skill you definitely have, and that can definitely be used in the workplace.
Also write down what general things you might consider doing now that you’re not tied to your previous job. Examples might include: doing temp work; applying for part-time jobs; volunteering until I find work; going freelance; going into business with other ex-colleagues.
4) Update your Curriculum Vitae
Sending unsolicited CVs to prospective employers isn’t a very effective way of finding work – unless you tailor your CV to the employer, and target employers based on a good fit for your skills. Make sure you at least have a template CV available, however, so you can tweak it when you need it.
Take time to think deeply about what to add to it, based on any recent learning or work experience. Make sure that, for each tailored CV, you include in the first few lines the information that’s most relevant to the employer you’re sending it to. Many CVs are only glanced at before they’re discarded – you’ll greatly increase your chances of making an impact if you think carefully about what to put at the very beginning.
5) Old Contacts: Don’t burn bridges
You may well be feeling very angry that you’ve lost your job. If you feel you’ve been genuinely badly treated by your employer, and that you have a case against them, then by all means seek out some good quality legal advice (you can get it free at the Citizens Advice Bureau service in the UK).
However, if you know you’ve been treated legally, don’t let your initial anger get in the way of keeping some useful contacts warm. If you can, send a note to your previous employer – perhaps to your own manager, or to the personnel department – saying how much you enjoyed working there and how much you learned from the experience. Try to do this as soon as possible after you leave. Be sure to include your up-to-date contact details, and an up-to-date CV. You never know when these old contacts will come in handy again…
6) New Contacts: Build some new bridges
A huge number of job opportunities are encountered through the process of networking. It’s vitally important when you’re out of work to not let yourself become isolated. Make sure you keep up with as many of your old professional contacts as possible, and also make an effort to cultivate some new ones. We’ll cover how to do this effectively in a later module.
Make sure you tell people you’re out of work and are actively looking. That includes friends, family, ex-colleagues, and even casual acquaintances. You’ll be surprised at how many of them will subsequently keep you in mind, and will direct you to job opportunities they become aware of.
It’s useful to prepare what you’ll say to someone who asks “what are you doing now?”. You don’t want to mumble and bluster; you want to be able to say something clear and memorable like “I’m an advertising executive currently between jobs and looking for a new challenge”. Don’t sound apologetic – sound enthusiastic.
7) Take Action!
Armed with your updated CV, your refreshed self-knowledge, your growing network of contacts, and (hopefully) a calmer demeanour, you can now start the process of seeking work.
In your journal, make a note of the methods which you feel able to immediately concentrate on. Check out my “Best & Worst Ways To Find A New Job” videos, but bear in mind that if you need to find work quickly for financial reasons, it’s fine to go for a “good enough job” rather than your “ideal career” – to start with, at least!
A combination of up to four job-search methods is ideal. Examples include: signing up at temping agencies; signing up at employment agencies; signing up at statutory job services; joining pre-existing job-clubs; setting up your own job-club (more on this in a later module); looking on the Internet and signing up for relevant online job pages; sending your tailored CV to relevant prospective employers; placing an order for the local jobs newspaper; exploring options for retraining.
Whether you’ve just lost your job or not, here’s something to bear in mind as you move forward into the next few modules: The Vital Vocation Online Coaching Programme is all about giving yourself options – it may feel like the job market is closing doors in your face; but you’re about to open up many new doors, windows, and escape hatches!
Perhaps the hardest thing to maintain when faced with a difficult or disheartening work situation is hope. Well, there’s nothing but hope – and you’re about to find out why.
In Your Next Module…
Now you’re ready to move on to Module 2, where we’ll be taking a closer look at you and what makes you the unique individual you are – because that’s the individual around whom a whole Vital Vocation is about to be built…