November 16, 2020

Starting A Job Search When You’re Suddenly Unemployed

by Amy Stuntz

Ideally, a job search is something you start on your own terms when you are ready for a new challenge or career change. Harsh reality tells us that isn’t always the case. Downsizing, layoffs and even the “F” word (fired) can happen unexpectedly. Whether you had a heads up or a nagging gut feeling that something bad was about to happen, being unemployed can be shocking and scary.

The most important advice we can give is to not let what happened at your old job negatively affect your new job search. Don’t make a new employer pay for the sins of your old company. It takes extra finesse to start a job search after losing your job. Here are ways to wipe the slate clean and find a great new position.

Get Negative Feelings Out of Your System Before an Interview

You may be tempted to jump online and start applying to every and any job opening you see the second you get home from receiving the news. This is a mistake. Give yourself some time to reflect about what just happened.

Additionally, talk through your feelings with trusted friends and family members. Never let an interview be the place where you share dark secrets, trash your boss or come across jaded and bitter.  

Don't Just Replace. Upgrade!

Maybe this whole situation is a blessing in disguise. A positive outlook on difficult experience is an attractive quality to a new employer. Companies love feeling like a new hire is running towards them not away from something.  

  • If you were let go because your personality clashed with your former employer’s company culture, take some time researching company environments and the soft skills an employer looks for.
  • If your company RIF’d your position due to financial issues, poor management or an acquisition, seek out organizations with stable ownership, positive employee reviews and Best Practices recognitions.

For more tips about an effective job search, check out this blog.

Leverage Your Network for Job Leads

You know people….and they know more people.  I know, this is incredibly profound, right?! Companies love to hire people who were referred to them. Make sure your personal and professional networks lead you to referrals:

  1. Job leads – think about former bosses and colleagues. Maybe their current company is hiring or they have clients they could introduce you to?
  2. References – you are going to need good references. You want someone who can attest to your work ethic and character.

Prepare Your Story

Practicing for an interview should be a no-brainer, but prepping for tough questions about why your last position ended is a MUST. Keep your answers short and stay positive. If you were fired from your last role, here is an outline to tell your story:

  • Take responsibility for what happened
  • Showcase what you learned by going through this experience
  • Be gracious for your past opportunity
  • Express how you can be an asset to their organization

Stay Positive

No doubt being in this situation is stressful and taxing. Remember to take care of yourself. Stay busy and surround yourself with positive people. Keep in mind, taking too much time off can cause another obstacle to overcome – a long gap in employment. To fill the void, if needed:

  • Consider volunteering
  • Accept a part-time or contract position
  • Sign up for continuing education to stay engaged in market changes


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