You’ve Lost Your Job – Expert Tips on What to Do Next

Suddenly becoming unemployed, whether you were fired or laid off, is one of the most challenging moments in any professional’s career.

You might feel shocked, embarrassed, angry or depressed, and you may feel completely confused about your next steps.

If you act too quickly and let your emotions drive you it could lead to a costly career mistake. But if you go the opposite route and lounge around for months, that could have negative repercussions as well.

Since Robert Half is dedicated to helping professionals find work,  I asked three Robert Half Finance & Accounting division directors, Kevin Green, Chattanooga, Tenn; Noel Tiell, Orlando Fla.; and Kimberly Shark, Alpharetta, Ga., for their advice.

1. What should someone do within the first week of losing a job?

Our experts agreed it’s important to update professional photo posted and be specific about which types of jobs you’re seeking.

Kimberly Shark suggested reaching out to former supervisors to let them know your situation. See if they can serve as a resource and ask them to keep an eye out for job prospects. She said it’s a good idea to talk to your most recent employer about how they plan to respond to requests for references.

Noel Tiell said the first order of business is the resume.

“Update your resume and have it armed to go out to appropriate parties,” he said.

Kevin Green said practice those interview skills, too.

“Learn how to articulate accomplishments not tasks,” he pointed out.

2.  What are some common mistakes you’ve seen candidates make?

Now is NOT the time to “go into hiding,” Green said.

“React with a sense of urgency,” said Shark. “Sometimes a long gap in employment can be detrimental.”

She said hit the ground running with an updated resume, a professional-sounding email address and proper interview attire.

Tiell said be proactive.

“Getting a job is a full-time job,” he said.

Green said it’s important to be truthful about the circumstances around your unemployment and to not let embarrassment get the best of you.

“It happens to lots of us in the course of our careers,” he said. “The only shame we feel is that which we allow ourselves to.”

3. What advice would you give to help a job candidate avoid getting discouraged? 

Tiell said avoid discouragement by being open to the types of jobs you’re willing to accept.

“Waiting for the perfect job that offers everything you may have had before is most likely not going to present itself,” he said.

Green said it’s helpful to find a mentor or coach who can be a sounding board during the job search.

Shark reminds candidates to network as much as possible, including with people in your neighborhood or church. And, she said, don’t forget to be active, exercise and stay involved in hobbies.

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