You Lost Your Job, Now What?

Is there anything more stressful in life than losing your job unexpectedly? Probably, but suddenly suffering such a huge blow while simultaneously being straddled with an overwhelming sense of financial uncertainty is enough to cause crippling levels of anxiety—not to mention, it has the potential to drive you into a depression.

You Lost Your Job

But, that’s only if you let it get the best of you. Luckily, there are many steps you can take today to help ensure you land on your feet after you’ve been let go. On a more positive note, the fact that you’re reading this right now is a pretty good sign you’re already on the right track. You’re motivated to move forward. So, without further delay, here’s what should you do after losing your job.

Take a second for yourself

First things first—while time is of the essence, taking a day or two to allow yourself to work through your feelings and come to terms with your current circumstances is not necessarily a bad idea. After all, it will be much easier to stay focused on the road ahead if you aren’t continually being distracted by unresolved feelings of sadness, confusion, and/or anger. If you need more than a couple of days, that’s fine too—just be sure to set a strict time limit so you don’t get stuck in a constant state of feeling sorry for yourself.

File for unemployment benefits

Before you do anything else, you should find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits, and file for them immediately if you do. Even if you have enough money set aside in savings to see you through this time, you should still take advantage of this assistance in order to prevent any further financial setbacks. Once you have the security of knowing you’ll be receiving at least some amount of income each week, you can give your undivided attention to finding a new job.

Let people know

After losing your job, you might feel embarrassed about letting people know you’re currently unemployed and looking for work—but, you shouldn’t. In fact, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised with the responses you receive from those you reach out to. Consider this—everyone you know has most likely been in your shoes before, or cares about someone else who has. Most people will jump at the opportunity to help you or will at least try to put you in touch with someone who can. Even if this type of networking doesn’t produce any promising leads, it is still a great way to get the ball rolling.

Get your resumé ready

Refreshing and refining your resumé is essential to do before beginning your job search, and having an updated version ready to go will help ensure you won’t miss out on any great opportunities that might come your way. Plus, getting to see an overall picture of your past employment can help you determine where you’d like to see yourself in the future, or reevaluate your current career path altogether.

Start your search

Like it or not, searching for a new job is now your only job—and you should treat it like one. Get up every morning and act as if you are going to work. Whether you’re spending your days searching out exciting opportunities, applying for new positions, or preparing for interviews, you need to stay busy, and remain focused on securing employment.

Be persistent and patient

Finally, the process of trying to find a new job after being laid off can be frustrating and leave you feeling overwhelmed—it can seem like you’ll never get your life back to normal. In moments of weakness, you may be tempted to give up—but don’t. Being persistent in your search, and patient when things aren’t panning out as quickly as you’d like, will pay off in the end.

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market