Losing your job can be a really difficult thing to experience – and it’s something many people have faced lately as companies downsize, restructure or close their doors due to COVID-19.
If you’re facing job loss, you could be feeling overwhelmed and daunted at the thought of finding work again. But there are productive and positive steps you can take to help you get things back on track.
Kerina Alter, career counsellor and job ready coach of Altered Career, shares some of these here.
First, it’s important to take care of your own wellbeing. “Don’t panic or feel guilty for not ‘being busy’,” Alter says. “Reframe your thinking from ‘I’m out of work’ to ‘I’m between jobs’.”
It can be a good idea to devote some time to things outside of job searching – especially at first. “Book appointments you’ve been putting off, such as the dentist, and do something daily for your wellbeing. Spend extra time with friends or doing things you love,” Alter says.
If you’re finding the news overwhelming, it’s worth being selective in what you read. Negative media about the economy isn’t always helpful or true of your industry.
And if you’re finding things tough emotionally, know there’s support available to help you. The Head to Health website has useful resources that relate to COVID-19 and more.
SEEK’s Resident Psychologist Sabina Read says situations like this can bring up strong and difficult emotions, but ways to cope with job loss include focusing on what you can control and sharing your thoughts with those around you.
Assess your finances
Now’s a good time to review your financial situation and get on top of any admin you’ve been putting off. “Prepare a budget for your daily expenses and savings, and speak to financial experts for advice,” Alter says. “Check if your super’s insurance coverage changes between jobs,” she adds.
If you need to, get in touch with your bank to discuss any payment plans or options for loans. The Moneysmart website has advice and information to help you make financial decisions that could come up during COVID-19.
If you want to focus on generating some short-term income in between jobs, a side business could be the answer. Could you sell items on eBay? Could you offer a skill or service such as gardening, driving or labouring?
Sharpen your job search tools
Your resume, cover letter and SEEK Profile are all essential tools in helping you to land a new role, so it’s a good idea to get them up to date and ready to go. Check out this resume template and cover letter template to get you started.
As you start to search and find jobs you want to apply for, adjust your application for each job to highlight how your experience aligns. Use the keywords and phrases in the job ad.
“Over time you’ll learn what employers are looking for, so should update your SEEK Profile and resume regularly to reflect this,” Alter says.
“Avoid doing a scatter gun approach with your resume,” she adds. “Be selective to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.”
Put out feelers for opportunities
Conducting your own job search is one thing, but you can also set things up so that opportunities are able to come to you.
Set up alerts on SEEK by saving your searches. Let people know that you’re looking for work, and get involved in industry associations that can advise you on job opportunities. Look for opportunities to network or connect with people in your industry, or join a virtual event or webinar related to the work you’re interested in. You could also consider speaking to career coaches and recruiters.
“Use SEEK to identify companies advertising in your local area and contact them to say you’re available,” Alter says.
“When applying for a role, call directly to discuss it,” she adds. “A hiring manager is more likely to pay attention to your application if they’ve spoken with you.”
Get in touch with your previous employers
Ideally, you’ll be able to get a reference – and potentially career transition support – from the employer you’re leaving. But it’s also worth contacting your past employers or managers for references. Tell them what you’re seeking, and ask what roles they’d recommend you for and what your areas of improvement are.
Alter says getting documents to do with your previous roles – like performance reviews or a job description – can help to remind you of your achievements so you can better prepare your resume.
Be open to other options
“Be flexible in what you’re looking for. Often companies like to 'try before they buy' and will hire people in a contracting or temporary capacity before committing,” Alter says.
Temping or contracting might be a good way to increase your skills or exposure very quickly or can just fill a gap between jobs.
There’s no doubt job loss can be a tough thing to experience. But by taking care of your wellbeing and making some of these positive steps toward new opportunities, you’ll be on the way to feeling back on track.