Getting laid off or fired is, unquestionably, one of the most upsetting things that can happen. Here’s what you should do about it.
Got Fired? Don’t Panic.
In the immediate aftermath, the most important thing is to keep calm. You don’t want to react in ways which could damage your future prospects. So, for example, DON’T:
- Post anything negative about your previous employer online. This looks unprofessional and future employers won’t want to see that. Worst case, you end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit on top of having no job. Best case – well, there is no best case. It’s natural that you’ll want to vent, but do so privately to your friends, not in public.
- Start thinking of ways to sue them, or get back at them. Although you may have a case for unfair dismissal, it’s rare to win, no matter how aggrieved you feel. Don’t waste your time and money locked in a futile legal battle with a former employer. Move on and start thinking about your next job.
- Start firing off your resume to everyone you can think of. Your job search will go much better if you take the time to do it right. You may only have one opportunity to approach most people, so don’t waste it with a premature application.
- Cancel all those regular payments. Economies will probably have to be made, but do the math before you start taking action.
The good news? There are plenty of engineering jobs out there. Take a deep breath, give yourself a day or so to process the situation, then approach it logically.
Figure Out Your Finances
If you’ve got savings set aside, or you got a payoff when you left, figure out how long you can manage before things really bite.
However, you’re more than likely going to have to make some cutbacks. Work out how much you need for essentials – that’s real essentials like food, mortgage, bills, and gas, not Netflix or gym memberships. You’ll need to allow for the resources you need to get a new job, so Internet access, phone and transportation should be considered essentials.
Find out what benefits and assistance you’re entitled to and apply for them right away. This can be a slow and frustrating process, so get it under way as soon as you can.
Then, make a budget and stick to it. It may be rough, but it’s best to know exactly where you stand financially. If you have a family, make sure they all know what’s expected of them. If you’re having to cut the kids’ allowances, cancel a vacation, or simply skip dessert when you go out, then show them why you’re having to do this instead of simply saying no.
Assess Your Prospects
Before you start applying for jobs, take a long, hard look at yourself. Don’t be unnecessarily negative — although that can be hard when you’re feeling rejected. Write down your skills and experience, everything that could be of benefit to an employer.
Balance that with an honest assessment of your weaknesses. You shouldn’t be criticizing yourself: instead, simply write down the skills you need to work on, and anything you really don’t enjoy doing.
Finally, decide what you want to do. Don’t just think about what you want to do next – think about your long-term goals as well. Range from the practical and obvious options to the fanciful – treat this as an opportunity to completely change your career. Go wild!
Make Job Search Your Job
Approach your job search like you would with any other project. Study the problem, make a plan, and tackle it like a proper engineer.
- Make a daily timetable. Keeping a regular routine will make it much easier to focus on what you have to do. Get up, shower, get dressed, and get job hunting. Allot time for checking online job boards, making calls, or dealing with emails. Treat it like an actual job, and make every day count.
- Set aside time for self-improvement. Give yourself opportunities to address the weaknesses you identified above. If you need to get up to date on latest safety practices, or you’re not familiar with current maintenance procedures, read up on them. Take time every day to read journals, industry news, or academic papers. Take a training course, and bring your skills up to date.
- Make lists of target companies. Who are the industry leaders in your field? Who’s doing the most interesting work? Who’s up and coming? Who’s hiring locally? How far would you go for the perfect job? (Would you travel overseas, for example?) Make lots of lists, and find out how to apply to each of those companies.
- Set yourself schedules, milestones, and deadlines. It’s easy to get despondent when you’re looking for a job, and it’s even easier to let things slide. Give yourself goals to aim at every week. You can then look back and see what you’ve achieved, even if you feel things aren’t going well. You may not have landed a job yet, but you sent out this many resumes, you’ve had this many calls, and you’ve read the latest trade publications in your field. That’s not a bad week.
Get Off Your Butt
Your job isn’t going to come to you. You need to go out and find it.
- Look on the online job boards. May we suggest Engineer Jobs?
- Go out and meet people. Yes, people can be scary, but personal contacts are often far more powerful than simply applying through regular channels. Go to meetup groups and mixers, attend networking events and job fairs, and look up former colleagues.
- Knock on doors. Not literally – though this can work. Call your target companies, and ask to speak to someone in HR. (If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know exactly who to ask for.) Make an appointment and go see them in person. That will make far more of an impression than emailing your resume. Take a road trip, and try to line up a bunch of appointments. It can sound very positive if you open with, “Hi, I’m looking to move to Oregon in the next few months, and I’ve heard you’re a great company to work for. I’ll be in town next week looking at houses, so could I come in and speak with someone about any opportunities you may have?” And if they say no, then ask if they can recommend anyone else. You’ll be surprised how many people will do their best to help when you’re being that positive.
Finally… Enjoy Life!
Seriously? Yes, seriously!
Face it, you’re going to have a bunch of free time, so make the most of it. Even if you’re spending five or six hours every single day looking for work, you still have more free time than you did while you were working. And if you’ve been that busy, you’ve earned a break. So be smart, be positive, and use this time for relaxation.
This is the perfect time to catch up on your reading, enjoy your hobbies, or play that stack of video games you bought but never had time for. (Yes, we just recommended playing video games!) Take walks, go on day trips, or simply enjoy spending time with the family. Perhaps take on a big project, or cross off a bucket list item. Build a tree house, restore that muscle car, or take a road trip to Niagara. Maybe you could volunteer for a community project.
This isn’t just self-indulgence. It’ll impress an employer if you can say, “Since I lost my job, I’ve done this, this, and this,” and then have some good stories to tell. That will show them that you’ve got drive and you haven’t just been lazy. Plus, your relaxed, positive attitude will come across in the interview, and make you a much more appealing hire.
Featured Image Credit: Kate Hiscock