Blog article with tips on what to do when you've just lost your job

One minute you’ve got a job, the next minute, you are being escorted out the door. Having been there myself, there’s no doubt that when it happens to you it will be one of the most traumatic moments in your professional life. So, what to do?

Outplacement (now called by the gentler name of Career Transition) came out of the US at the beginning of the first wave of restructuring in the late 20th Century. 

It works.

So, hopefully, your employer has provided you with a decent length program with a strong Career Transition provider.

But what if they haven’t?  What if you are on your own? Or what if you’re not actually sure that your Outplacement provider is doing the right thing?

Knowledge is Power

The good news is that information about how to successfully find your next role is out there.  Whether you Google each job search element one at a time or whether you head straight to leading career websites, you have access to the latest information at your fingertips. 

(Just a slight word of warning, though. Some advice from US-based career experts needs to be tweaked for our Australian culture.  For example, most US experts will advise you to send a thank you note to an employer after attending a job interview.  This doesn’t tend to go down well here in Oz, where most people would think that you were “crawling”.)

How Long It Takes

The length of time it takes you to find a new position depends on many factors:

  • Your Attitude. 
    People can “read” your attitude from as far away as the proverbial mile.  If you are still negative about your retrenchment, it is usually obvious in all your face-to-face interactions with prospective employers and means that they will probably avoid hiring you.  A positive attitude, on the other hand, shows up in your face, voice and general body language.
  • The Dabbling Factor
    Accepting that your current “job” is to get a job and working a 40-hour week is very important.  Not only will it take much longer and eat into your termination pay if you work spasmodically, but it can have disastrous effects on your morale and your ability to negotiate a good package when you are offered a position.
  • Getting Your Face in Front of People. 
    Networking is the single most effective way to get a job, whereas responding to advertised positions is one of the weakest.  It is important that you get out from behind the computer and get to see the decision makers.
  • Your Selling Skills.
    The unfortunate truth is that a position usually goes to the person who presents the best in an interview rather than the best person for the job.  Find a tough but supportive coach to hone your skills.
  • Condition of Your Job Sector. 
    If your particular skills are in demand, your job search will take less time; if your chosen industry is depressed, it will take longer.
  • Age. 
    Although it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, older people generally take more time.  A key factor, though, is the level of energy you show.
  • How Wide You Roam. 
    If you limit your search to a narrow geographical area, it is likely that your search will take longer.

Essential tips to navigate your career transition

 What then are the essentials to master this difficult period of your working life?

 Tip #1: Identify your ideal world

I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes moving from one job to another, even though I think that I’m a relatively smart person.  Yet, I’ve held my last role for more than 15 or so years – an absolute record for me.

The difference between my current very high levels of career satisfaction and my previous job-hopping is that I finally did my career homework, back when I lost my job.

To achieve success, it is important to find a job which best matches your skills, values, beliefs and goals. So, review your career path to date, explore possible future directions and map out your strengths, interests and key values.

Tip #2: Seek expert financial advice

It is possible that you will find a new position while you are still receiving your termination pay but you need to consider the possibility that your job search will take longer.

A job change may affect your ability to support yourself or your family.  Not having enough money to pay bills adds stress.  If you don’t deal with this stress, the pressure builds and builds until something just has to give! 

Developing and keeping a budget will ease your transition. Once you have a clear idea of how long you can afford to be out of work, it is easier to ensure that your career goals and job preferences can be funded properly.

Tip #3: Manage links with your previous employer

One of the most important issues is to clarify the official story as to when and why you are leaving.  You will also need to work out an agreement with your ex-boss as to how he or she will handle any eventual reference enquiries about you.

Tip #4: Check out the market

When some people hear the word “research,” they have visions of a mad scientist surrounded by test tubes, microscopes, and Bunsen burners.  Others might think of endless trips to the library.  The type of research needed in the job search is not what you might think.

Remember that your skills, abilities, past jobs and experience matter less than one key attribute: your ability to show the employer that you can do the work profitably. This takes lots of research, planning and focus.  Devoting time to pursue each organisation like it’s the only organisation makes you stand out when you interview.

Research is of course essential for success in a job interview, but its importance goes beyond that: strong research is about how to find the right organisation for you. 

Research, choose carefully, pursue doggedly and take a job for the right reasons.

Tip #5: Develop your marketing skills and strategy

The next stage is to develop your marketing/selling skills – producing a “wow” résumé, learning how to do proper Job Search Networking, and sharpening your interview skills. You are then able to complete your campaign plan and decide the best mix of Job Search strategies for you.

Tip #6: Get out into the market place

Finally, you are ready to go out and put your marketing strategy into action: making important contacts, promoting yourself in either networking or interview situations, and finally, negotiating remuneration with your new employer

Tip #7: Settle in to your new position

Once you have landed your job, it’s time for a quick review of the process and the development of an on-going marketing strategy.  As we all know, there is no longer any guarantee of job security for any of us, so it’s important to adopt strategies that strengthen your long-term employability.

This is now a “Life” skill

Given today’s environment of shortened average job tenures, it is important to prepare for future career change.  It is now a “life” skill for you to develop:

  • a full understanding of your saleable strengths
  • a workable knowledge of your potential market
  • the ability to sell yourself to the decision-makers in your potential market

In other words, you must know specifically what it is you have to sell, to whom you should sell it, and how to sell it when you get to the decision-maker who can buy it.


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