You can bounce back after a job loss — here's how

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Jim Lao

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TvH Financial
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  • Getting laid off is a financial and emotional gut punch. 
  • And recovering from a job loss takes time, effort, and self-awareness.
  • Insider spoke with career coaches about how people could start their job searches on the right foot.


Recovering from a job loss takes time, effort, and self-awareness. You will bounce back. cagkansayin/Getty Images


Getting laid off is a financial and emotional gut punch. Not only is your livelihood and healthcare often dependent on your full-time employment, so too is your identity and self-worth. 

For some, it can feel like a personal failure, according to John Pohl, a career coach based in the Atlanta area. He said that while it's common to experience feelings of disappointment, betrayal, and shame after a job loss, "You have to remember: A layoff is something that's beyond your control."

Layoffs are "business decisions that have to do with changes in the economy or a shift in corporate strategy," he said. "They aren't necessarily about your job performance."

Recent mass layoffs at Amazon, Google, and Salesforce offer proof, amid recession fears.

Still, recovering from a job loss takes time, effort, and self-awareness. Insider spoke with three experts on how to get your mojo back after a layoff so that you re-enter the labor market with confidence.

Take a breather

In the immediate aftermath of a job loss, Pohl recommended taking a little time off. You need space to process what happened. If you can afford it — maybe you have a nest egg or you got some severance — a change of scenery will do wonders for your body and mental health. 

Surround yourself with people who love you and who have your back, said Michelle Matthews, a career strategist and coach based in Chicago. She advises talking about your layoff with friends, family, and professional peers. They'll help you work through your emotions. 

Reflect on what you accomplished in your last job and make a list of your achievements. The list will help shore up details on your resume, stimulate ideas on what you want to do next with your career, and put you in the right frame of mind for your job search, said Matthews.

"The better you feel, the better opportunities you can find."

Activate your network 

More and more people are turning to social media to share news of their layoffs. This has two effects, according to Gillian Williams, a partner and cofounder at Monday Talent, a recruitment agency in marketing and communications. One, it helps break down the stigma of being let go, and two, it quickly spreads the word that you're open to new opportunities. 

"More than ever, there's a sense of global camaraderie, like we've all been through this trauma of the pandemic," Williams said. "People are more inclined to help than ever before."

Williams said it's important to avoid bad-mouthing your former employer when you post. She suggests using a hopeful, honest tone and outlining which types of positions you're looking for as a call to action.

Make a plan

Next, you need to start inching your way toward hiring managers. Pohl advised developing a spreadsheet of 10 or so organizations that interest you. "Maybe you like their mission or their products," he said. "Put it down in writing and note any connections you might have to the companies."

Then, make your way down the spreadsheet by reaching out to the people you know and applying for openings. The beauty of this exercise is that it forces you to deepen your professional network while also giving you concrete, actionable tasks to complete. 

"You need the accountability of things you can check off your list," he said. 

Watch your stress level

Even in a still-strong labor market like this one where there are nearly two open jobs per every available worker, looking for a job is an anxiety-inducing experience. That's why it's important to make sure that throughout your search, you're getting plenty of rest, exercise, and fresh air. 

Be self compassionate, said Pohl. Quash your negative self-talk by reminding yourself of what you can and can't control. "Ask yourself: Can I control whether the recruiter calls me back? No. But do I have control over making sure my application is flawless? Yes." 

Try not to stress even if your search is taking a while, said Williams. Recruiters today are unphased by gaps in workers' résumés because of layoffs caused by the pandemic. In March 2020, a record 11.4 million people were laid off as a result of state lockdowns and restrictions.

Have faith in the process. "I've heard from a lot of people that their layoff was a blessing in disguise," Williams said. "There are so many amazing opportunities out there. So in a lot of ways, it can be a fresh start."


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Jim Lao profile photo

Jim Lao

Partner & President
TvH Financial
Contact Now