Moving On After a Job Loss

Posted by Patra Frame

moving on after job lossLosing a job is always tough. Whether you loved it or hated it, whether your employment ended suddenly or with planning and support, it hurts. So how do you move forward effectively?

Take some time to grieve.

Give yourself a short break to get past the worst effects. Most of us engage is some version of “woulda, coulda, shoulda” thoughts. Some think of revenge or lawsuits. Most get angry at odd moments and terrified at others. This is all pretty normal.

Now is the time to lean a bit on family and friends. Yet a recent study shows nearly half of American men do not even tell family members when they lose a job! Tell people close to you. Ask them to let you vent and fuss first but tell them you will let them know when you want advice. It is aggravating when a friend starts telling you what to do next, when what you really want to do is just let off steam and talk about all the jerks you worked with. And you need to get all those emotions out in the open before you can effectively move forward!

If, after a week or two, you do find yourself having difficulty starting a real job search – not just looking at the web for hours, consider working with a coach or a mental health provider.

Sure, most of us cannot afford to wait very long before we actively move into job search. But you do want to get past the anger and the most emotionally difficult bits first. You still will have those bad moments – but you will be ready and able to focus.

Start with an Assessment

So often in these cases, people just look for the same job or the one-up role. Be smart.

  • Think about what you love about what you do.
  • How can you do more of that?  Where?
  • What was missing from the last job that you want to do?
  • Are the requirements of your field changing – and how does that impact your job search?
  • Have you been thinking it was time for a change?
  • What changes most interest you? How can you make them?

Start with a blank page and write out your ideal job as if you were writing a job description.

  • What is the work you seek?
  • What is the scope of the job?
  • What are the ‘must include’ must have aspects of the role you seek?  Then add:
  • What values and culture do you want the next organization to offer?
  • How do you want to work and where?

Consider asking other close friends or mentors for ideas on the roles they see you in. Share what you have been thinking about and ask for feedback too. These actions help you broaden your scope and clarify your interests.

Develop a non-defensive short statement about why you are unemployed. Say it was a contract end and the organization had no other such work, or that your role was cut or that you were let go after a new boss came in. Keep it simple and no more than two sentences. Practice it till you sound fine saying it. Have a little detail as back-up, if asked, but do not put down your past employer or specific boss. That makes the next company wonder if you are a problem.

Once you have a solid idea of what roles you want to seek now, it is time to do some research.

  • Look at jobs on ClearedJobs.Net to see which most interest you.
  • Check out these companies and any other companies which interest you.
  • Look at Glassdoor and Vault for company information.
  • Ask people you know what they know about these target companies and whether they can introduce you to anyone who works there to learn more.
  • Look at the target companies’ websites, their social media presence, and find ways to connect.

As you do this work on internal and external assessments, make sure you are taking care of yourself physically. Be in contact with people who energize you. Go out for coffee or a snack with people you know to discuss your search and ask for their support.

Move into Active Marketing

Once you know what you really want to do next and you have some target companies, begin to prepare your marketing materials.

  • Update your social media profiles.
  • Write a resume or two.
  • Get some two-sided business cards that show both your contact info and your desired role with some achievements that support it.
  • Learn how to use all job search tools effectively.
  • Our blog has valuable information on all aspects of job search – just search it for help. We also have a channel on YouTube if you prefer videos.

Begin your formal marketing by connecting or re-connecting with past peers, bosses, co-workers, professional friends, and those you know from personal activities.

  • Choose the best venue for each person – whether that is a phone call, a text, an email, via social media, in person, or whatever.
  • Ask each for specific support and help so you get them involved and interested.
  • Ask questions about the job market in your field, pay levels, requirements, and current trends.  Ask past bosses if they are willing to be a reference.
  • Keep in touch and provide some ideas or support to them too. This must be a two-way street to be useful.
  • Far too many people only do this contacting of old friends during job search. If that is you, be sure to ask how they are and apologize before you ask for help.

Give out your networking resume to each contact after your first discussions, not when you contact them.

Go to professional events. Volunteer with your local chapter of any professional association you belong to or with events in your area. Get out there and learn and make new connections. Demonstrate your value.

Set up some method now that works for you to track all the people and information you are gathering as well as jobs applied for, interviews and such. This will make your search much easier.

Develop a career decision matrix.

  • This is a chart where you list the major factors you want in your next job.
  • These may include: specific work roles, new technologies, physical location, minimum pay level, your values, benefits, travel or not,  and any items important to you.
  • Rank them and list them down one column.
  • When you are considering opportunities this serves as a checklist. Once you have offers, it allows you to compare them to your needs and wants effectively.

Seek out connections at your target employers. You can do this by

  • Asking people you know if they know anyone who works there that they would be willing to introduce you to.
  • Looking for attendees at professional events from your target companies and talking with them.
  • Add to that by looking on LinkedIn or other social media for connections in your field in the company.
  • Contact these people and ask for a few moments of their time to talk/correspond with you about their job and the company.
  • Build the relationships so that you can send them your resume and ask for their support in getting it to the right people. Employee referrals are the first resource for many companies in hiring!
  • Also connect with the company recruiters in your field on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. This helps you become a ‘real person’ to the employer.

Set yourself up with job agents on those job boards which focus on your field. Attend the right job fairs for your work. ClearedJobs.Net offers both job fairs and a job board for those seeking jobs which require a security clearance. is for anyone seeking non-cleared cyber security related jobs.

Review your efforts regularly to see what is working and what needs to be adjusted for success.

Don’t tell yourself this is a bad time to be looking for work. There are always employers who need to hire now. The idea that summer or holidays or the end of the year are bad times to find work has never been true.  Too often it is a convenient fiction for lack of motivation or discouragement. Recognize that and move forward.

Celebrate your successes too. Take the time to realize your progress, to enjoy your interviews, and give yourself some credit.

I could tell you about each time I got let go or fired – yes, there were several – and every once in awhile one of them still nags at me late at night. But each time I was actually glad to be out of there and I found a new opportunity that was great. You will do the same.

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.


This entry was posted on Sunday, December 02, 2018 4:08 pm

6 thoughts on “Moving On After a Job Loss”

  1. You need to reacess what you stated. I was laid off after 25 years. Had 7 companies wanted to hire me but the CAF ignored every request to reinstate my clearance within 2 years after my layoff. So I had to try to get into the private sector now age became a factor. so it had to become an independent contractor for the private sector.

    1. I’m sorry. This was not meant as a way to address a long period of unemployment and the very difficult issue of reinstating security clearances. Kudos to you for making a tough situation work out as am sure it was difficult to achieve.

  2. Well I spent most my life with job loss, or should i say’ contracts ending, or leaving a contract which wasn’t for me. My experience and advise is to know when your about done on either side of the house , is to start searching immediately, and, or during the interum of your contract. I had lots of jobs Iloved doing , but I always contnued to seek for other venues.. So before you look for that other job” know weather yu want to contract or be an hourly piad worker with long term career tenures. No matter what one, or direction you take, enjoy the time off” But if you absouloutely can’t afford financially to take any real time off, you better always have a back up plan.

  3. Thank you Patra!

    This information is absolutely beneficial to many but remains a very hush topic of conversation. I appreciate your moxie for writing on this subject matter that many are embarrassed to embrace!

    Frank Patton

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