Getting Started Job Search Tips

How to Bounce Back From a Lay-off

Written by Miranda Pennington

Are you still reeling from an abrupt end to your last job? Is your box of office flotsam glaring at your from across the room? It’s a stressful time, and after you’ve taken some time for deep-breathing and appropriate wallowing, you’ll need to prepare for what’s coming next. Here are some concrete steps to help you get back on your feet, courtesy of career consultant and certified life coach Phyllis Mufson.

One of the most stressful elements of unexpected unemployment is financial status. Take an unflinching look at your finances–do you have enough between savings, severance and unemployment to maintain your current expenses for three months? Six? A year? Make a detailed budget and figure out what expenses you can cut right away.

Depending upon your age and previous employment history, it may make sense to speak with a financial advisor, hire a recruiter, or seek out temporary employment agencies for an interim job. Particularly for older job seekers, choices about whether to opt-in to Social Security benefits or consider opportunities with larger chains that are offering part-time employment with benefits, should be carefully reviewed. Professional career coaches or advisors can help you assess your skills, identify unexpected opportunities, and craft a narrative that will help you stand out form the crowd.

Remind yourself daily that, as Mufson puts it, your job search is likely to be a marathon, not a sprint. Find fellow job-seekers to be your “running buddies”–check in with one another daily or weekly. Perhaps you can assemble for periodic group visits with like-minded peers or even former colleagues who are in the same boat. And don’t forget to blow off steam. Especially as summer approaches, there are likely to be free or low-cost leisure activities in your town or city. Set yourself a schedule for job-hunting activities and be sure you leave frequent breaks in it to go for a walk, get some exercise, see friends, and spend time on hobbies you had before the lay-off that probably threw you off your axis.

Being laid off can feel like a judgment on your worth as a person or your merits as an employee, but as the last decade has shown, it can happen to practically anyone in any industry–and the people who bounce back are the ones who realistically assess their finances, their skill-sets, and their network of peers. So rest up, and dive in–there’s no time like the present!

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.