In work, as in life, the only certainty we have is change. If your company downsizes and you find yourself without a job, there are a few steps to consider as you plan for your next opportunity.
- Request assistance. Ask your boss or the HR department for a letter stating you were "laid off," rather than fired. Inquire if there will be a benefits package. Ask for specifics, such as career coaching, severance pay, and vacation/sick leave reimbursement. Discuss continued insurance coverage and file for unemployment benefits.
- Obtain a recommendation. Assuming your job loss was unrelated to your performance, approach your boss about a letter validating your skills. If your relationship with your supervisor was strong, ask for their endorsement on your LinkedIn page as well.
- Remain a true professional. Make sure to say goodbye and express your gratitude to those you have worked with you during your tenure at the company. Thank your supervisor for their direction and guidance throughout the years. Do not allow your anger to take over. Badmouthing your former employer to coworkers will not win you any points with new prospects. It is always best to complete your final day on good terms.
- Take some time off. Losing a job, even when it is not directly your fault, is traumatic and can temporarily blind side you. Do what it takes to release your stress. Make room for a reasonable amount of time to feel upset as you process your feelings. Role play with others to practice what you will say during your next interview. You do not want to break down in front of your potential future employer.
- Reach out to your networks. Once you are ready to job search in earnest, update your professional and social media profiles. Let all of your connections know you are looking for work and offer specifics as to what you are interested in. Call industry colleagues that you have good relationships with to let them know you are on the market. The wider you cast your net, the better your odds of landing some promising leads.
- Utilize your contacts. Make a list of people who you can reach out to for referrals or job suggestions. Engaging in conversation on social media and connecting with people on LinkedIn is one way to network for a new position, but do not underestimate the value of friends and family. Most people belong to at least one professional organization and know of jobs that may not be posted publicly. Knowing someone on the inside is a great way to get your resume into the right hands. Recognize every opportunity as a potential lead. I was recently at my neighborhood dog park and started a conversation with a very nice young woman. She turned out to be a perfect fit for a friend who was hiring for a marketing position.
- Evaluate your finances. Your steady paycheck is on hiatus, so review your monthly expenditures and seek out ways to minimize your expenses. Factor in your savings and any unemployment benefits to which you are entitled, then create a budget that will get you through the lean times ahead. Hopefully the span between jobs will be brief, but the longer you can get by without going into debt, the better off you will be. Stay open to part-time work to help ease any financial strain as you continue to job search.
- Invest in yourself. Losing a job is one of the most stressful situations people face, so be kind to yourself however you can. While looking for work is your new occupation, make time to exercise, eat well, and find activities that rejuvenate you. Get enough sleep, but do not spend all day in your pajamas. Create a new daily routine. Get up, shower, exercise, eat a good breakfast, and start your job search as if you are on the clock. Rest assured that you are taking all the right steps to build a bright future.
You may also find Job Interview Etiquette Tips on Diane's blog helpful. Connect with her here on The Huffington Post, follow her on Pinterest and Instagram, and "like" The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook.