Q. After 25 years with my first employer, I will be looking for a second career. I was one of the few lucky enough to be with the same company since college. I feel foolish because I was caught in the middle of a consolidation. Do you have recommendations for the first three things I should do before I actually begin my search?
A. Twenty five years with one employer is a very successful run and I hope you can look at your track record that way and move past feeling foolish quickly. The loss of a job impacts people in many ways and taking the time to review your situation and develop a job search plan is the best direction.
Some advice you might get that wouldn’t be on my list is to take time off to take a vacation, improve your handicap or finish the big house project you have been wanting to get to. I also don’t advise calling everyone you know just to “let them Know.” Almost everything becomes part of your job search as you move ahead and here are a few high priority items.
1. Anticipate how long a job search might take. Every job seeker I deal with tells me it took much longer to find a job than they ever thought it would. The reason to take this step is not to add to the fear or depression, but to ask the hard questions and plan. What is your financial situation? What will it look like if severance and unemployment run out? Is there a way to trim your budget now? Is there a way to add income? The old adage of one month of job search time per $10,000 of salary is as accurate as any other methods discussed.
2. Stay healthy. Stressful situations, like job loss, take their toll on people both mentally and physically. If you exercise, keep at it. If not, see your doctor and start walking. Identify healthy ways to relieve stress and maintain positive energy. Identify and retain support systems, whether individuals or a group. Bring positive people closer, move negative people further away. This activity is often called “getting your head on straight,” and keeping it there can be a challenge during a job search.
3. Look at the big picture. It may feel like a hard time to step back and look at the big picture, but try and review the positives in your life. The challenges will show themselves immediately and your blessings may be harder to see. Write it all down. You will need to pick these notes up again as you go through the process. Expand the list to include your strengths on the job and pinpoint when your job made you happiest.
Hopefully these steps will give you a realistic and optimistic view of the work ahead of you. These steps will provide a realistic view and ground you as you move into full job search mode.