What to do when you lose your job – An expert guide

By Robert Half on 8 September 2018

Losing your job through a redundancy is certainly not a pleasant experience. It can completely upturn your life, causing you stress and severely knock your confidence.

Knowing what to do when you lose your job can be difficult. Your initial reaction may be to panic. You may have a mortgage or rent to pay, children to feed, or a big holiday booked that still needs paying for.

This isn’t the time to leap into action though. Make sure you give yourself some time to clear your head and let the fear and anger subside. Take the opportunity to speak to your friends and family too, as they may be able to support you.

Whilst it might not feel like it now, being made redundant can become a positive experience. It can be a great opportunity for you to evaluate where you are in your career and potentially carve out a different path for yourself.

The challenge: What to do when you lose your job

Don’t know what to do when you lose your job? Firstly, make sure you understand your current position, evaluate your various options and then take positive action to get your career going again. Here are some steps you could follow to help move forward:

1. Read your redundancy letter – Take some time to read through your redundancy letter, to understand the situation completely, as well as your redundancy package. Remember that any holidays accrued and not taken should also be paid out to you.

2. Review any alternative employment – As part of your consultation period, your employer may discuss any alternative positions within the business. Go through these options carefully and decide whether there is a job you can see yourself doing. Take your time to think over the options though and don’t make a snap decision.

3. Check how long your consultation period is – Make sure you’re clear on when you need to inform your employer of whether you will be taking the redundancy package or applying for another job within the business.

4. Review your finances – Whatever your plan, you will need to make some changes to your finances, to accommodate your change in circumstances. Review your monthly outgoings to understand exactly what you owe and when bills are due. You could also see whether you can reduce any of your payments.

5. Evaluate your options – If you decide to decline any job offers to pursue other options, take some time to consider what you want to do next. Go back to basics and ask yourself what your strengths are, what you enjoy doing and what will make you happy in a job for the next 2, 5 or 10 years. Consider whether you want a full-time or part-time role. You could even consider a complete career change.

How to create a new career path

Now you know what to do when you lose your job, it’s important to think about your longer-term plans. Whilst many may jump straight back into the same role, in a different company, there is another option. If your career goals or values have changed, or you just want to try something new, then a complete career change might be the right path for you.

Whilst this can be an exciting next step, it’s a decision you need to take some time to think through thoroughly. Don’t just change careers to escape your current situation. Make sure you understand your motives behind the change and decide whether now is the right time.

If you do decide to make a career change, consider what you want to do and whether you have the necessary skills and experiences. You may need to consider taking a course to develop your knowledge and skills or get some work experience.

Getting to know people in your new industry can help you to get a foot in the door. Go to relevant networking events and build up your connections. Follow up with people via LinkedIn. You could join industry groups to find out more about your chosen career path, plus ask questions. You could speak to a recruitment advisor for some expert advice on the industry you plan to move into. They will also be able to talk you through some of the jobs that are available in your new field.

7 steps for finding a new job

Now you’ve moved past the initial shock of being made redundant, it’s time to start your job search journey. Here are seven steps you should follow:

1. Craft the perfect CV to show off your skills and experiences. Don’t forget to tailor it to fit each role you apply to.

2. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and is as complete as possible. Reach out to any contacts from your previous company too, to ask for endorsements and recommendations.

3. Create a cover letter to accompany your CV, to help convince an employer that you’re the right person for the job.

4. Start practising your job interview techniques now. Decide what you will wear, go over some common interview questions and plan some questions you can ask the interviewer.

5. Upload your CV to recruitment sites, where consultants will review your qualifications and experience, then match you to relevant, open positions.

6. Reach out to your connections, including previous colleagues, friends and family members. Let everyone know you’re job-hunting, as you never know who they may be able to put you in touch with.

7. For expert advice on finding the right job for you, speak to a specialist recruitment agency like Robert Half.

Being made redundant is an emotionally-charged experience, so make sure you allow yourself time to heal. Searching for new jobs when you’re still low, you’re unlikely to get the results you’re hoping for. Give yourself time to process things. Then pick yourself up and try to maintain a positive outlook. View it as an exciting new chapter, not a door closing.

When you don’t know what to do when you lose your job, remember that your career can be whatever you want it to be. The first step is figuring out what you want, then you can focus on making it become a reality.

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