I’ve lost my job three times during my 19-year career. I was fired twice. The first one I really deserved, the second one I didn’t. The third time I was laid off when the entire company went out of business.
I’d love to tell you that you won’t lose a job. You’ll work for 40 happy years and eventually get a gold watch at a retirement party where the cake isn’t too dry. That would be nice, but it’s not going to happen. Those days are over, and change comes at us faster than it ever has before.
So what do you do when you lose your job? These four things:
1. Don’t think you’re the only one.
When you’re single, it feels like everyone you know is in a perfect, long-term relationship. As you scroll through Instagram, all you see are friends smiling and riding double bikes with their partners while you binge watch “Stranger Things” alone. You feel like you’re the only one who is single. That’s not true and you’re not the only one who has lost a job. We all have. We all will. Don’t believe the lie that it’s just you. In some professions, there’s even a guarantee that it won’t end well. Think about college football coaches. They have a 99% chance of being run out of town after a few losing seasons. Very, very few of them get statues on campus. You’re not the only one who has been laid off or fired. I promise.
2. Remember, your friends want to help.
When you lose a job, it’s tempting to refuse help. Call it pride or shame; the results are the same regardless of your emotional motivation. Your job search takes a lot longer if you don’t lean on your network of relationships. You’ll feel like you’re burdening your friends. You’ll assume they are too busy or can’t be bothered. But here’s the truth: they want to help. Friends are custom-designed for this very situation. They want to encourage you. They want to help edit your resume. They want to forward you a job you’d be perfect for. Friends shine in moments like this, but only if you’ll let them. Don’t be afraid to let others in when you lose your job.
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3. Reach outside your inner circle.
It’s critical that you tell friends about your search, but there’s something surprising you need to know. It’s usually not close friends who will help you find your new job. Why? Because your close friends live in the same city as you, travel in the same circles and hear about the same opportunities you do. Your loose relationships, the casual friend online, the barely-not-a-stranger on LinkedIn are seeing different job openings. Don’t just share your job search with family and close friends; get outside your circle to really increase your odds of finding a job.
4. Find the next job, not the best job.
When someone tells me they’ve been unemployed for a year, I know exactly what is happening. The person is looking for the perfect job. That’s certainly a temptation, especially if you didn’t your their previous job. The reality is that unless you’re independently wealthy, you have a limited amount of resources you can burn through during unemployment. I want you to find a great job, I want something amazing to fall into your lap. But, I encourage you to look for the next job, not the best job. Don’t be ashamed to get a “pay the bills” job. It might not be glamourous. It might not be the greatest company in the world. But who said it was your last job? It’s not. It’s your next job, and having a next job makes it a lot easier to search for the best job.
I hope you don’t lose your job. I wish you a long, fulfilling career in an office where coworkers don’t heat up fish in the breakroom. I wish all of these things and many more, but if you do lose your job, I hope you won’t lose hope.
It’s not just you.
Your friends want to help.
The outer circle can help you more than you know.
And above all, it’s OK to look for the next job, not the best job.
Jon Acuff is the author of five books, including his latest, “Do Over; Make Today the First Day of Your New Career.” Follow him on Twitter @JonAcuff.