One thing this first week of “umemployment” has taught me is to keep your chin up and keep “your humans” close whenever you need support. I thought that it might help others in this predicament to learn from my experience having to go back to a job for a week after having my position eliminated. So here are ten things, and I’m sure there are more but that’s the magic number for today.
1. Don’t be shy: There are times when it’s prudent to listen to your shy self. When you’ve recently lost your job, that’s not it. You might be contacting people you haven’t heard from in months or years. You have the best “in” of all. Everyone wants to help you or is at least sympathetic to your plight when you’re freshly booted from a job. It’s time to hit that LinkedIn page that has a picture of you on vacation in 2008. You never know who might be able to lead you to that next opportunity, and this is from a guy who got his last job from someone in a fantasy football league with me.
2. Gather intel: Everything from your previous job that you think might be useful in finding a new job, do it. I was in the middle of taking an SQL course at work and got that information transferred over, because you’re never too old to learn new tricks. Your main currency is what you did, the projects, the last-minute deadlines, and the procedures you might have set up. Also, try to get as many fellow employees’ “civilian” email addresses for future contact purposes.
3. Get that health squared away: I had a dental procedure scheduled the week after my departure and had to cancel due to my insurance being erased. By the time I called the company about my FSA (flexible spending account) money, they told me that technically, I could have used all of my 2015 money. I had three days left and could only get a bunch of prescriptions and new glasses, when better planning might have helped me take care of more needs. Also, see as many doctors as possible before you lose your health plan.
4. Know your finances: For some of us, we’d rather chew concrete than look at a monthly budget. If you got a severance that’s going to help you get by for a month, the time to start seriously looking for a job isn’t a month from now, but at least you know you won’t be in a dire situation immediately.
5. There’s a reason we call him/her “significant other”: You’re going to need to lean on your partner/spouse, and if you don’t have one of those, it’s time to reach out to the network. While you think of immediate needs, you’re going to be a bit emotionally raw for a time. I can’t say losing a job is like losing a long-term relationship, or a pet dying, or a close family member dying, but it’s pretty darn close.
6. Time for a new routine: Remember how you used to get up at 7, spent an hour staring at Facebook/Twitter while eating breakfast before taking the shower and heading to work? That routine is gone. I’m not saying that you have to set an alarm, but having a daily routine will help in getting to that “new normal”.
7. Be flexible: The new schedule means you should be “up for anything”, and not in a silly commercial jingle way. Even if a job opportunity isn’t exactly what you were doing before, give it a shot. I’ve had four full-time jobs since college, and none of them have been exactly like the other. Instead of going 100% into the full-time job search, you may have to consider some freelance gigs for a while.
8. You time: If you’ve put off going to the gym because you’re “working too much”, guess what you’re not doing anymore. Think about that hobby you have that might be a doorway to a new career, or something to occupy your mind, because 24/7 panic is so not cool. Even if it’s not a networking opportunity, meet that friend that you haven’t seen for a while for lunch.
9. Hitting the ol reset button: When I was getting my you-know-what handed to me in that old college football Playstation game, I wasn’t above hitting the reset button. You may not have been the person to hit the button in this case, but it’s happened. If you loved your previous job, try to find something else like it. If you were meh to less than meh about it, you have an opportunity to find something better. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find something better. In the process, perhaps you’ll get to be a better version of yourself.
10. “Most” job search expenses are tax-deductible: That does not include beer consumed on those nights when you’re perusing indeed.com.