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Moving on After Job Loss

Millions of people lose their jobs every month. If you are the one who has just lost your job, knowing you aren't alone isn't much consolation. The good news is that millions of people also land new jobs every month, and you will join that group, too!
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Portrait of young businessman holding cardboard in office
Portrait of young businessman holding cardboard in office

Millions of people lose their jobs every month. If you are the one who has just lost your job, knowing you aren't alone isn't much consolation. The good news is that millions of people also land new jobs every month, and you will join that group, too!

Land Your New Job in 3 Simple Steps

Whether you loved or hated that job, now your focus is to move on to the next stage in your career.

1. Deal with any anger you may be feeling.

Being angry is a very large roadblock to future employment -- recruiters won't refer you, and potential employers will avoid you.

No one wants to hire a "nutcase" who might "go postal" in the new job!

You may be completely justified in being angry at the incompetent former boss or calculating co-worker(s), but remaining angry with them can sabotage your future success. That anger will be apparent in your language, facial expression, and tone (both written and live).

The anger may negatively impact your job search in many ways:

  • Scaring people away in your social media interactions.
  • Offending the people in your network.
  • Limiting your view of potential opportunities.
  • Keeping you from focusing effectively on your hunt for a new job.

All of this will prevent you from "moving on" to the next step in your career.
So, don't let the anger take you down:

  • Recognize and acknowledge to yourself or to a counselor that you are angry.
  • Dump the anger and frustration out in a way that won't hurt you or anyone else, like writing it down in a notebook you keep to yourself (or destroy later) or in a document on your computer that gets deleted (NEVER sent to ANYONE!).
  • Determine to move on with your life and career without letting that bad experience permanently damage your future.
  • Count your blessings (from family, friends, health, and home to ice cream in the freezer and the electricity that makes the freezer work, etc.) on at least a daily basis -- hourly, if needed.
  • Consider that you might possibly be wrong about why you lost your job, if you are blaming one person or situation. Unless you have perfect information about everything involved, you are guessing about the reason you lost your job.

The worst part of the anger is the long-term impact it can have if you don't get rid of it. You can end up burning bridges that may prove permanently damaging to your career -- like when a potential employer does a reference check.

2. Take a deep breath, and consider your best options for your next job.

Not having a clear target for that next job is the second major roadblock for a successful job search. Jumping on to every job board and applying for every job seems to be an automatic response, but that response is usually an exercise in futility.

Step back from the situation for a few hours or a day to look at the "big picture" in your career.

You will save yourself much future frustration and wasted time by spending some time looking at your career from a different perspective than day-to-day survival.

Consider the following for all of your former jobs and employers:

  • What were you proud of doing in those jobs?

Put your accomplishments and notes of pride in a list. If you did nothing you can be proud of, seriously consider changing the direction of your career.

  • Did you enjoy the work you were doing and want to continue in that field?
  • Again, make a list of what you enjoyed doing.

  • Did the organization feel like a good place to work?
  • Make a list of the things you liked and would want in your next employer. Also note what you want to avoid.
  • What would you rather be doing next and where would you prefer to do it (organization and location)?
  • Start your job search with a solid target or two in mind. You will be more successful when you know what you want to do next, and the best way to get from "here" (your previous job) to "there" (where you want to go next).

    For excellent step-by-step guidance through this process, purchase or borrow a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard N. Bolles. It is updated every year, so look for the year on the cover. If your library has only one book on careers, this is the one. For a very good reason!

    3. Dig in.

    Go back to the lists you made above, and use them to bring your online visibility up-to-date -- because that's where a future employer will probably find you.

    Update your LinkedIn Profile (essential for a job in business today). Using your work from # 2 above:

    • Add those accomplishments to your LinkedIn Profile in the Summary that support your future goals.
    • Add those accomplishments in the descriptions of your various jobs in the LinkedIn "Work Experience" section.
    • Make your LinkedIn Profile's "Professional Headline" (the words that follow your name everywhere on LinkedIn) forward looking, detailed, and specific about your future job.
    • Find something, hopefully more than one thing, about all of your former employers to brag about in your "Work Experience" section. Perhaps they were the largest (or second largest) whatever in their niche or location. Or, they created a product or service that is held in high regard by customers, have been in business for 25 years, or 3 employees supported 20,000 customers, etc.

    Update your resume with a positive focus on your accomplishments and your future. Don't let your resume become a boring epitaph. Focus your resume on your future goals -- document how those goals are appropriate for you based on your accomplishments, knowledge, skills, and experience.

    Moving On...

    Digging yourself out of anger and depression is not easy, but millions of people do it, and so can you.

    A solitary job search is less effective, especially today with all of the new technology emerging and impacting the process. Join a job club or job search support group. Get help with your job search -- networking, resumes, profiles, etc. -- and notice that you are not the only smart, capable person who is struggling with your job search.

    "More heads are better than one" is an old saying and a cliche because it's so true.

    More About Recovering from Job Loss

    Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus for more job search tips!

    Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for and This piece first appeared on