Career Advice

Laid Off? Remember: You are Talented!

Let me start first with saying that “you are talented!” If you just lost your job through one of the layoffs occurring around the world, you are not alone, even if it feels that way.  If this is the first time you’ve ever lost a job or been asked to leave a company, a whole range of emotions are swirling or are about to swirl within you. While there are some that others can help address there are ones that will be left only up to you to get over.  Regardless, it’s important to remember that just because your company downsized, you are no less talented than you were before.

Over the years, I have seen many different outplacement services and job searching skills training.  Most are pretty elementary and cover the fundamentals — which are important — but hardly enough.  I’d like to offer a few thoughts on helping those facing unemployment with a few tips to build a foundation to execute the fundamentals andbetter prepare you for when the market comes back.

  • Learn that your self-worth and your job are not the same. But, it sure feels that way doesn’t it? Wherever we go people ask, “What do you do?” and the answer is always your job title and company. If you’ve recently lost a job – or about to – this is no longer an easy question to answer. The blank needs to be filled in and the sooner you can answer this question confidently and with self-assurance, the sooner you’ll be on the way to feeling better about yourself and moving forward. Ideas for you on how to answer the question; “I used to be an ABC at company XYZ. Today, while looking for my next job, I also (fill in the blank with those things that are important and valuable to you like spending time doing something important with your family, volunteering, giving back, etc). Just creating this new language and definition of “you” will be a boost to your ego and self-worth.
  • Force yourself to be active. Do you remember that sick day when you thought ‘what a great day to read that book’ you always wanted to read, yet when you opened it you felt too cruddy to actually read? The same kind of malaise can creep in when you go from 40-60 hours a week or work to a dead stop. While we may initially think we’ll be full of energy and time to do all the things we ever wanted to do, we soon may find we just don’t feel like it. So, sometimes you’ll have to force yourself to be active. A great way to do this is to go find a charitable organization that needs your time and energy and get involved in a project that forces you out of the house and with other people for 10 hours a week or more. This is the perfect time to do good with the time you have. Charities, churches and schools are all hurting during this tough time and they could use your help and they will value you for what you bring to them.
  • Work on your story. What most of us never take the time to do is create the short, to the point story of who we are, how we got here, why we do what we do, what we care about, where we want to go, and what we dream of doing. Your story is yours. It is different and unique. When we are asked to describe ourselves, we often fumble around and we never seem to cover the unique in each of us that would be memorable to the person who has asked. Now is the time to sit and come to your own story. Start with what makes you unique and different and then build from there. Write it down and then practice telling your story over and over to those who care about you and others who you know are also looking for the next thing. In return, let them practice their story on you and give them your honest feedback. The old adage is true, “those who teach learn twice”. If you can come to a less than five-minute full story of you then you can be confident in knowing that “everyone likes a story”. The better the storyteller you are about yourself, the better others will listen and the better you will feel prepared for any question that comes up.

Yes, you need to be doing the fundamentals that you know about already. Some of these tips Glassdoor outlined recently. But, you also need to be out there connecting and networking, but if you just don’t feel up to it yet, or you feel lost within yourself, work on the three important things above to move yourself forward.  Trust me, you will find your groove again.  It will take time just as all hard things in life do, but before long you will feel more confident to hit the ground running and find the “you” that makes you who you are.  You are not alone and I hope you remember — –no matter what — you are talented!