Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

Just Laid Off? Your 3-Step Action Plan

If you’ve recently been laid off, your first instinct may be to panic and scurry for the next opportunity. But fear not. While layoffs are hard, don’t forget that you now have the chance at a new beginning.

Keeping this mentality of pursuing a new beginning can, in fact, inspire you to inject new energy into your hunt and help you secure the job you really want. Here’s a few pointers that’ll kick start your job search—the right way:

1. Possess Positivity

Particularly in challenging economic times, employers want to hire people who will be a positive, helpful presence. And given what you just went through—just think about how much you would stand apart from other candidates if you were to stay positive despite the economy-induced layoffs.

Job interviews—and informational interviews, and networking events—are your chance to shine and to demonstrate your enthusiasm for a position or opportunity. So don’t dwell on your situation or criticize a previous employer at any point in your new job hunt. Even if you’re totally bitter, don’t let those emotions creep out in front of an interviewer or anyone else who could help you get a job. Instead, focus on what you’ve learned from the experience and how excited you are for what the future holds.

2. Seriously Self-Assess

Moving on from a job (whether it’s your choice or not) is a good time to think through who you are and where you’re headed. First, take some time to outline your strengths and weaknesses. And don’t “interview answer” yourself, à la, “My weakness is that I work too much!” Be honest—it will help refine your search to know what you can offer a job or new company. Are you completely into social media, or do you secretly hate Twitter? Do you know Excel inside and out, or are numbers written on Post-it notes the limit of your data-crunching experience?

Also think about what you would like your next job to offer you in terms of work environment, job duties, and salary and benefits. Look beyond your paycheck and consider benefits such as tuition reimbursement, 401(k) matching, and disability or life insurance. I’m currently working with The Hartford on the My Tomorrow campaign, which helps you take control and plan for your future. The campaign website is a great resource for your career search, benefits information, and other real world advice that helps you think through what you want for your future.

3. Build a Really Big List

A really big list of what? you might ask. The way I see it, a Really Big List is a collection of every idea you have that’s related to your job search. That means when a company pops up and you think, “I’d love to work there!”, write it on The List. People you’ve been meaning to talk to? Blogs to subscribe to? Anything else? Put it on The List.

Start your Really Big List in a notebook, an Excel doc, or in a note on your phone, and keep it with you at all times. Referencing your list will give you steps to jumpstart your job search: employers to research, people to invite for informational interviews, events to attend, and more. Jotting down ideas as they come to you will start your search without you even realizing it—and it’ll keep you motivated any time you’re feeling down.

For more on building out and using your Really Big List, check out my book, Getting from College to Career.

A job loss can be a big letdown—no matter what situation you may have been in. But no matter where you were and where you want to go, don’t let a job loss keep you down. Just make sure you look forward, focus on the future, and take steps to get on track to land your next job.

Photo of woman thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.