Top Priorities When Job Loss Enters the Picture

Top Priorities When Job Loss Enters the Picture

Priorities can get so completely messed up when job loss enters the picture. All too often, the fact that a person is now unemployed takes over everything. Don’t get me wrong — a job loss needs to be treated seriously, but the degree to which folks let it dictate their lives can be unhealthy.

I know just how challenging it can be to get through each day when there is a job loss in the household because I have lived through it and I have witnessed loved ones endure in the struggle.

Even when you feel the world crashing down around your shoulders, your top priorities should remain focused on PEOPLE.

That may feel like the last thing you want to do. You’re embarrassed about being out of work, having to explain the situation again (and again…) can feel demoralizing. All you want to do is pull the covers over your head and hope that you can wake up from this nightmare! But cutting people out of your life during this time is especially detrimental for you.

How should your priorities look at this time?

1. Yourself

Yes, YOU are the first person you should consider, and your needs are the top priority at this time.

I know what you may be thinking: “No kidding, Melissa! What I need is a new job!”

While gaining employment is important, you should take the time to put your physical and emotional needs first. Things like:

  • Eating the proper portions of a well-balanced diet.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Exercising.
  • Processing your emotions regarding your job loss.
  • Getting out of that “Woe is me!” funk. Yes, job loss sucks, but it does not have to define you as a person!
  • Evaluating lessons that may come from your most recent experiences.

Take care of these needs first, and put a system in place to ensure that you continue to meet these needs throughout your job search. All of the above activities will serve you much better than sitting at your computer 12+ hours a day, feverishly updating your résumé and social media profiles and firing off applications to as many opening that seem even remotely related to your background (aka Spray and Pray).

2. Your core circle of support

Whether that is family members, a significant other, or really good friends, you should be reaching out to them because you need them more than ever right now!

These folks are the ones who you know will have your back through it all and can help ensure that you are exercising good self-care with the items from first point. Maybe they will cook a good meal for you, or go for a run/walk with you, or talk with you to help you through this time in life that feels like a roller coaster. Allowing someone in your life who you can trust to help you stay on track with your self-care will benefit your job search (and your health!) in the short- and long-term picture.

Another benefit to keeping connected to them is the access they can provide to their network. Because these are people you have strong relationships with already, asking them if they know anyone who works in your industry isn’t sleazy at all! You know you would bend over backward to help them if the roles were reversed, and they do, too.

Rarely is the give-and-take of these relationships a 50-50 split. It’s OK that you need more resources now — you can happily return the favor when your friend/loved one is in need.

3. Your larger network

This group of people is comprised of colleagues from past employers, former classmates, folks you see socially on a somewhat regular basis or more (at a volunteer gig, at your house of worship, at your child’s extracurricular activities, etc.) Even if the person you know doesn’t work in your industry, s/he may have someone in their network who does.

Don’t be afraid to fill them in about your situation and let them know what your current needs are. In general, people do want to connect with others and want to help, so your efforts won’t be in vain. Just make sure that you are specific enough about your situation so they can be a true resource to you.

One note: You want to be sure that the people you include in this circle are ones you do have some interaction/rapport with. To ask a favor of someone you haven’t talked with in 20 years or to be suddenly BFF with a person who you have basically ignored up to this point smacks of self-serving behavior.

If you find that the number of people at this level is rather low, start cultivating it by being a resource for others. Once you become a blip on their screens, things can start to develop organically between you and these folks.

What about the other parts of my job hunt, like writing my résumé and LinkedIn profile?

Without a doubt, well-crafted career marketing documents that powerfully convey the accomplishments in your career are critical. They are your foundation.

But what good is a strong foundation if you’ve built it on a sinkhole? You need firm ground to build your foundation. PEOPLE are the firm ground of your career.

Image courtesy of John S. Quarterman

Melissa Cooley, career coach and certified résumé writer of The Job Quest, LLC unearths her clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here for more information on ways to partner with Melissa for your career success!

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