Step into any new social situation—whether a dinner party, a coffee date or a DM—and one of the first questions you’re likely to be asked is, “So, what do you do for a living?”
For better or worse, much of our identity is tied to our careers. With so much of who we are defined by what we do, losing a job can take a heavy toll on our sense of self.
With massive job cuts across the tech sector, many people are currently grappling with that sense of loss. So far this year, more than 135,000 technology workers have been sacked. Twitter, Meta, Lyft, Chime, and GoFundMe are among many tech companies that have eliminated positions.
As economists concede the likelihood of a global recession in 2023, many workers are understandably concerned about their occupational outlooks. Dr. Edwin, who specializes in coaching women toward more fulfilling careers, says being let go could be the start of a new and more purposeful career path. ESSENCE spoke with the certified career counselor to assemble a step-by-step guide to help impacted workers rebound from job loss and position themselves for long-term success.
Step 1: Grieve the loss.
Finding yourself unexpectedly unemployed takes a toll on more than just your pocketbook. The emotional impact of losing a job can be significant.
“Many people try to move on and jump right into the job market,” Dr. Edwin said. “This can quickly lead to making unwise choices about your next career move.”
Instead, she advises clients to give themselves time to take inventory of lessons learned. “Pause. Give yourself time to adjust and grieve,” she said.
Journaling is an effective way to unpack those complicated feelings and process your grief.
Step 2: Do a financial audit.
Once you’ve allowed yourself space to feel your feelings, facing your financial fears is an essential next step.
“Making career decisions from a place of financial desperation can cloud your judgment and lead you to accept roles that negatively impact your life satisfaction and mental health in the long run,” Dr. Edwin said.
She encourages clients to take a financial inventory. “Audit your finances to determine how much you have in savings and how long your savings will last. Then, see if there are unnecessary expenses you can cut out,” she said.
“The goal is to get in a position where you can be financially comfortable for about 3 to 6 months, which is how long the average job search takes,” she said. “And don’t forget to check to see if you qualify for unemployment benefits.”
Step 3: Get clear about your next career move.
Dr. Edwin says job loss can be the push that sets you on a career path that is more closely aligned with who you are.
Instead of jumping into a new role, similar to the one you left behind, Dr. Edwin encourages clients to take some time and reflect on what they want. The following questions are great prompts:
Were you happy doing your job?
What would you change if you had the chance to (which you now do)?
What are your non-negotiable values in this season of your life?
What skills do you most enjoy using (not just what you’re good at)?
“Understanding who you are in this season of your life and what roles are most aligned with that, will increase your chances of experiencing fulfillment and increased life satisfaction,” she said.
Step 4: Update your career profile.
Once you have clarity about your next move, update your career profile to reflect that.
“You want to make sure you’re marketing yourself well,” Dr. Edwin said. “Be sure that your most recent role is updated on your resume and LinkedIn profile, so they adequately reflect where you want to go in your career, not just where you’ve been.”
Step 5: Activate your networks.
Dr. Edwin advises job seekers to find a career coach to help reduce the time and energy spent looking for the right new role.
“Don’t attempt to navigate the next phase of your career alone. If you were in the job you just lost for more than a year, you’re likely a bit rusty on job searching,” she said.
Networking is equally important. “Talk to friends and family, and even strangers. Let them know that you’re currently looking for a new position,” she said. LinkedIn is a great way to source new opportunities.
You never know who knows who and what connections can lead to your next opportunity.
Step 6: Create goals and timelines.
When you’re laid off, it can be easy to descend into a fog of discouragement and self-doubt. Between the shock and disappointment of being laid off and the frustration of job searching, you might feel unmotivated to secure a new role – even when you desire one.
Dr. Edwin says creating clear goals with timelines can help keep you motivated.
“Set deadlines for when you want to begin working with a coach, update your marketing materials, submit a set number of applications,” she said. “All of these actions are within your control. “You can’t control when you get interviews and when you secure your next job, but you can control the actions you take to speed up your results.”
Step 7: Affirm yourself.
Our jobs are what we do, not who we are, but it’s easy to convolute the two given the status society places on career and income. Losing a job is one form of rejection and in searching for another, you’re likely to encounter many more.
“Thoughts like, ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘Am I skilled enough?’ ‘Do I have what it takes to be successful?’ can keep you discouraged as you try to figure out your next career move,” she said.
Through all this, Dr. Edwin says, it’s important to keep affirming yourself. She encourages clients to create affirmations. “Affirmations will help you remember the objective truth about your skills and abilities and keep you motivated during this next phase of your career,” she said.