You Lost Your Job. Now What?

Talk with anyone in the recruiting space and they’ll tell you they have never seen the job market swing so dramatically in such a short time. In February, recruiters were faced with low unemployment and a limited supply of quality candidates, especially in strong markets (Denver for example). Our people were largely limited to cold calling a friend of a friend in hopes that they would be open to a new opportunity. This method of recruiting, direct sourcing, usually lends itself to higher quality placements, but it is a serious time investment.

Then the coronavirus hit and everything shut down. Searches were put on hold, revenue sagged, and whole industries evaporated overnight. By April the unemployment numbers started skyrocketing. By May my inbox was flooded with newly unemployed talent looking for an opportunity. Now that most businesses have burned through their PPP funds, we see another wave of talent flooding the market picking up steam. Serious talent. Not entry-level employees who likely would not have worked out anyway. It’s a new world. 

If you have recently lost your job and you’re wondering what to do next, here are a few tips to get you on the path towards gainful employment. 

  1. Set Realistic Expectations and Timelines: One of the first questions we get to with a new candidate is salary expectations. What do you hope to make? The hard truth is that unless we are coaxing you away from a lucrative career, you do not have the leverage you once had. You need to figure out what the compensation floor is for you and do what you can to get your ego out of the way. Start with a 20% decrease and adjust as needed. No one wants to shift their lifestyle, but unfortunately you don’t have a choice. The sooner you make adjustments the better. Only 18% of Americans have enough in savings to live off of for six months or more. The average job search takes 90 days. Aim too high and that number will double or triple.

  1. Treat the Search Like a Full-Time Job: Sure a week of no showers and Netflix binging is understandable, but snap out of it before you develop unhealthy habits or rhythms. You have a full-time job, it’s finding a full-time job. Map out your week like you would if you were employed. Set goals, outline projects, schedule meetings, and get after it. Take care of your body and your mental health. Make it a personal goal to step into your next opportunity in the best physical and mental shape you have ever been in. Regardless of your appetite for networking, it is no longer optional. You need to meet with as many people as possible so that when an opportunity presents itself your name is top of mind. 

  1. Stay Flexible: You may have decades of experience in a specific area, but you will increase the likelihood of landing a new gig sooner if you open up your search to comparable roles and industries. Ask people close to you who are familiar with your work to identify skills that could translate to other verticals and include those industries in your search. Now is not the time to haggle over job titles or specializations. Don’t buy the lie that the one thing you’ve always done won’t translate into a different space. More than ever employers are prioritizing character and culture fit. Most of us aren’t rocket scientists.

  1. Lean into the Difficulty of the Present Moment: You are probably experiencing some toxic cocktail of fear, shame, anxiety, lack of confidence, and doubt. That means you’re human. The first thing I want to remind you of is that this too shall pass. Whether unemployment is two months or two years at some point you will find an opportunity and make your way back on your feet. God willing you won’t ever have to walk through a similar situation again. But you are here, now, and you will want to look back on this season proud of how you navigated things despite the excruciating difficulty. It doesn’t feel like it now, but the challenges of the present moment are a gift to you. You have the opportunity to see what you are really made of, the fabric of your DNA boiled down to the raw material. Walk this path with discipline, integrity, and resolve so that ten years from now you will look back and hold your head high. 

I do not want to minimize the challenges you are facing or the pain you are experiencing. Losing a job is disorienting to say the least. Hang in there. Take care of yourself. And don’t forget that this too shall pass. I’m rooting for you.