What to Do After You’ve Been Laid Off
By Paula Santonocito
The obvious response to a layoff is to look for a new job. Before you start pounding the pavement, however, you need to make sure you’re properly focused.
Review Your Last Job
A layoff, while discouraging, provides an ideal time to assess your most recent work experience.
Ask yourself what you liked most about your last job, and what you liked least.
Focus on the professional aspects, such as industry, managerial responsibilities, daily tasks, additional training and educational opportunities, and advancement potential.
However, don’t forget to also take into account the personal aspects of the job. Did you work with great people? Was there a social component of the work experience that you valued, including after-hours get-togethers?
Make sure you consider other areas as well. For example, if flexibility is important to you and the job allowed you to work from home frequently or on occasion, note this. Similarly, if the commute matters and the job was (or wasn’t) close to home, this should be on your radar.
By looking at the job from all angles, you are doing two things: realistically evaluating the experience, instead of letting your emotions take over, and determining what matters most, which will help when searching for a new position.
Take a Big Picture View
Of course evaluating your most recent job is only one area on which you should focus. As overwhelming as it might seem, a layoff also offers an opportunity to take stock of your entire career.
It’s a perfect time to probe for answers to the questions, “What is your five-year plan” and “What is your 10-year plan.” If you can look even further into the future, more power to you.
It goes without saying that this kind of assessment of your career requires thought. But it also requires honesty.
Are you happy with the work you do? If you had the chance, would you do something else? What would that something else involve? How might you get from here to there? Is more education required? Do you need to relocate?
Imagine the best possible employment situation, and then figure out if it’s possible to make it happen-even it takes one, two, three or four career moves to get there.
Maybe the first step is to use your existing skills and experience in a totally different industry. Once in a new environment, you might then focus on acquiring additional training or education. Realistically assess what is involved, and how long it might take.
Also take into account the personal. What might you have to sacrifice in order to fulfill your ultimate career goal? Will the rewards be worth the sacrifices?
Why Step Back
Only you can assess your life and make the choices necessary to move forward on the same path, shift direction slightly or totally alter the course.
And a layoff is a great time to do this.
Sure, you may feel you should immediately start searching the job boards and sending out resumes. But, remember, if you do so without a clear idea of what you want, your job search will be less focused and consequently less successful.
You may land a job, but you’re more likely to end up in a place that’s not right for you.
On the other hand, a little contemplation can go a long way toward propelling your career in a direction you really want to go.
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