In the classic movie American Beauty, Lester explains to his daughter that he didn’t “lose” his job. He explains that if this were true, he could have found it again. If this were the case for all of us who’ve experienced losing a job, we wouldn’t be a SquarePeg and would have little need to read ahead.

Sadly, it isn’t the case and as such, we ask ourselves, “What do I do now?”

When faced with this stark reality, it becomes apparent to us that what we didn’t do after experiencing a job loss was as impactful as what we did. Below are some suggested don’ts and must-dos for you to consider.

 
 

Make a Plan

When we feel out of control in our lives, we seek order as familiarity. We once knew a woman who, when she felt stressed, ran out and bought a new day planner so that she could re-input her schedule, contacts and task lists. This made her feel like she had a personal order to the chaos that raised her stress and anxiety.

Today that would be akin to buying a new cell phone each time stress arises, which is not highly recommended. Instead, plan for week one, which will serve as your template for the weeks ahead of you. Having a plan will preserve the order of your day, schedule and efforts toward searching for work. Without a plan, your search will take longer.

Take a Step Backward

Taking a step backward is perhaps one of the most important things you can do when starting your job search. Don’t just start aimlessly acting out of panic and fear. Now is the time to consider your highest and best use. What does that mean? It’s a land economics term that applies to our career formula.

A person’s highest and best use is the confluence of their skill sets and their passions with a vehicle by which to utilize them. Simply put: identify what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about in life and what industries, verticals, companies, fields, and sectors might offer a position to marry those. This is often something people neglect to consider, instead jumping right into the hunt immediately upon being laid off.

Don’t Consider This Time as a Vacation

It’s definitely not vacation time. Whether you received a handsome severance or an empty bankers box, the reality is that no income is coming your way tomorrow, but your bills are. At most, take a week to regroup before you come out swinging.

Take Stock of Your Emotional State

Hopefully not, but it may be the case that being unemployed may cause you to suffer some form of depression. If so, please consider seeking professional help. Lack of motivation, inescapable sadness and feelings of hopelessness may be signs that you’re going there. Please don’t ignore them or hide them from loved ones. You’ll need all the support you can get.

The SquarePeg Community was created for this express purpose. We felt alone, misunderstood and without support from fellow Boomers suffering what we were. Few seemed to “get us” and what we were going through. These feelings are not unusual, but if they persist, seek the help of a professional. Surround yourself with positive people who understand what you’re feeling. Not everyone will.

Commit to Your Job Search

Finding real work is a full-time job. There is nothing easy or formulaic about it. It’s hard work and requires focus and commitment. Outline your assets and resources that will help you with the search, how much time you’ll spend daily and what measurable progress you should expect.

How many hours should you spend daily and how many days a week? There is no right answer. Treat your search as you would any workweek and accomplish the tasks ahead of you. Work smart and hard, giving yourself applause for anything you do that moves you closer to “passing go.”

Share Your Story with Everyone

That’s right, share with everyone. We heard of a friend who received a plum job opportunity from a person who he had fired at a previous company!

The point is that we never know where the next great opportunity will come from. Be fearless about sharing your humanity and let others give to you what they can to help your cause. Some will surprise you with their indifference, while others will seek to repay your past kindnesses. None of this will occur if you don’t share with others readily and candidly.

Network Everywhere

We learned that networking occurs at a local ball field, a holiday party, a car wash and the grocery store. Most everyone we know has a job, works for a company, knows someone who owns a company or perhaps even runs one. Share your story, be unafraid to ask for help and let others offer. It may be as uncomfortable for you as it was for us, but it’s powerful.

Refresh Your Resume

This relic known as your resume last saw the light of day when the first Bush was President. Although in the age of social media a resume may seem passé, try applying online or in person without one. Not a great writer or uncomfortable advertising for your personal brand? SquarePeg offers a resume refresh tool for a fraction of what market pricing is today. Check it out in the Tools section of our site.

Become a LinkedIn Member

The price of LinkedIn is right. Basic membership is free. It is the single most often used tool by recruiters and employers to search, vet and contact potential job candidates. The key is in having a powerful and unique profile. Much like Google search, LinkedIn uses an algorithm that searches keywords within your profile and matches them with similar keywords in a job opportunity posting.

Take the time to carefully craft your profile. Should you have concerns about doing this right, SquarePeg offers a LinkedIn profile critique tool, again for way less than market price. Learn about how this can help you in the Tools section of our site.

Research Your Network

You know more people than you think. Maximize your contact with them by “going to school on each.” It used to be about who you know. Now, thanks to social media, it’s what you know about who you know.

Everyone is an asset if you approach him or her effectively. Don’t filter out anyone until first approaching them; think of each as another hunter for your game. You simply never know who’ll come through for you.

Remember to stay motivated, fight fear, share with others who “get it” and to use your assets and resources. Maybe you won’t find the job you’ve lost: You may just find a better one.

What did you do to reinvent yourself after losing a job in your 60s? What did you do when you found yourself unemployed? What tools and advice have you found most helpful? Please share in the comments.

Jeff HenningJeff Henning is a business leader and educator in Southern California. He is the father of 10 daughters. His expertise is in creating meaningful change within a business to drive results focused upon people, profits and planet. Jeff is the co-founder of No Square Peg, an organization that recognizes the tremendous challenge Baby Boomers face while attempting to reinvent themselves in the new career landscape.

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